“Chef’s Best is an event which has evolved over decades,” says Craig Shniderman, the executive director of Food & Friends, which organizes the annual fundraising dinner and auction. “It was one of our first events. The first one was down at the waterfront at one of the seafood restaurants that’s no longer there. We had between 175 and 200 people. Now, we have dependably more than 1,000 each year.”
Serving as Food & Friends’ keystone event, Chef’s Best Dinner and Auction brings together more than 40 chefs and mixologists from various restaurants in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia to prepare some of their most popular dishes and cocktails for a dining room of donors, who pay $350 per person for a ticket to the high-end affair.
Among those chefs are Marjorie Meek-Bradley of Smoked and Stacked, who is chef chair this year, as well as Erik Bruner-Yang, of Maketto & Paper Horse, Tony Chittum of Iron Gae, Amy Brandwein of Centrolina, Victor Garcia of Commissary, and Thomas Palmer of Hank’s Pasta Bar.
“We always look to get a great variety of chefs from D.C., Maryland, and Virginia, so we have a good representation of the geography, of the community and restaurants of every shape and size, and a broad range of cuisines,” says Shniderman. “We think we have a particularly good group of chefs this year. We have restaurants that are popular in the LGBT community, popular in the suburbs.”
Proceeds from the event directly benefit Food & Friends, which provides more than 1 million medically-specialized meals, groceries, and nutrition counseling to people in the greater D.C. area who are living with cancer, HIV/AIDS, and other life-challenging illnesses. Shniderman hopes to raise about $900,000 from the event this year.
The event will also honor longtime Food & Friends supporter Fleur Bresler and the Bresler family, of Bresler & Reiner commercial real estate firm, for their continued support over the years, both in the form of donations and hours of volunteerism.
“Our family knows firsthand of the impact of Food & Friends. My son Bill was both a volunteer and client,” Fleur Bresler said in a statement. “My children, grandchildren and I are proud to volunteer and support the work that has been so important to us. There are and will continue to be very sick people in our community. There is always more work to do.”
Shniderman also says there will be a surprise announcement made at the dinner, but is mum on the details of what that will entail.
“I can’t tell you what it is,” he teases. “But it’s going to have a great impact on the future of Food & Friends, a wonderful gift that we’re going to be announcing.”
The 28th Annual Chef’s Best Dinner and Auction is on Monday, June 19, at the Marriott Marquis, 901 Massachusetts Ave. NW. The President’s Reception for sponsors begins at 5:30 p.m., with doors opening to the general public at 6:30 p.m. A live auction will kick off at 8:30 p.m. To purchase tickets, or for more information, visit foodandfriends.org/ChefsBest.