Joan Nathan Talks Sips & Suppers
Joan Nathan, cookbook author and Martha’s Table board member, is also co-founder of Sips & Suppers, a weekend celebration of food and an annual fundraiser for Martha’s Table and DC Central Kitchen. In anticipation of the 8th Annual event in January, Martha’s Table CEO Patty Stonesifer spoke with Joan to learn more.
How does a famous cookbook author end up on the board of and so involved in an organization like Martha’s Table?
“Giving back has always been important to me. My children grew up coming
to Martha’s Table to make sandwiches and help out. It taught them what’s
important in life … and I think Martha’s Table just really stuck with me.”
Sips & Suppers has become a regional celebration of food, and of the
organizations that ensure quality food for so many people. How was
Sips & Suppers born?
“It started with a phone call from Alice Waters. She asked me to think
of two organizations that addressed food and hunger in the D.C. area,
and Martha’s Table and DC Central Kitchen immediately came to mind.
We’re now going into our 8th year. While Alice, José Andrés and I have
led the charge, this event would be impossible without our volunteers,
who do everything from wait tables to scour the city for donations. We
have volunteers who are sommeliers, chefs, and general managers. And
we have amazing food providers, such as Capital Meats, Congressional
Seafood, and Whole Foods. So many people work tirelessly on this
event. It’s quite amazing.”
How do you see the restaurant industry and its leaders influencing
change in the broader food system?
“I think chefs understand that you can’t live a decent life without healthy
food, and they’re interested in partnering with organizations like Martha’s
Table to transform the way people think of food, and the way we eat.”
What do you hope happens after Sips & Suppers?
“My hope is that once people get a taste of Sips & Suppers, they’re more
interested in visiting or volunteering with Martha’s Table, and learning
more about how they can support us.”
You were part of the inspiration to move our focus from meals-delivered
to healthy eating. How have you seen Martha’s Table change in its
approach to food?
“Things have changed tremendously. The healthy eating and food
education component has been so important. I recall doing a cooking
demonstration with zucchini at a market—we sliced it, put some olive
oil on it, and put it on high heat. The kids liked it so much that they
convinced their parents to bring it home. That is powerful.”
Sips & Suppers by the Numbers
Chefs involved? Hundreds
Event volunteers? Hundreds
Families who have held Suppers? At least a hundred families.
Money raised? Over 2 million dollars!
Diners and dancers at both events? Altogether? Maybe 5,000!