This weekend there's a great event that let's you taste food from some of the best restaurants in and around St. Louis -- all while helping people battling cancer, HIV or AIDS. I'm talking about Food Outreach's 22nd annual "A Tasteful Affair," and I couldn't be happier to be a part of it. I'll be co-emceeing the event with my friend, Heidi Glaus. This year's theme is "Wild West," so pull on your cowboy boots and hat and come on out to the Chase Park Plaza!
This week, I got a chance to go into the kitchen with Food's head chef and dietician to see what keeps this place going.
Cooking for 1,500 people is just part of the daily routine at Food Outreach.
"We always try to have a beef, a fish, a pork, a chicken and a vegetarian," Dietician Josh Dale says.
It's Nicholas Hatfield's job to make it taste good. The head chef is responsible for whipping up food that fits specific dietary needs for cancer and AIDS patients.
"We're always looking for new ways to make food appetizing for those who don't necessarily feel great that day, so it's a delicate balance of nutirtion but like a homey feel to it where it makes them excited to eat," Hatfield says.
"What we're trying to do is keep them strong enough to keep going to treatments," Dale says. "We see that as our job -- to prevent them from missing treatments, prevent them from readmission."
They do that by making mealtime easy, because vigorous chemotherapy treatments can make patients weak.
"What happens is they go to the treatments, they're tired, they come home, they don't want to cook, and well, if they don't have any food, they're not going to have any energy," Dale explains. "So that vicious cycle just continues and that's where our frozen, prepared meals come in."
They're made fresh once a week. Racks and rows of reliable food options stuff freezers. It's part of the grocery store for Food Outreach clients, and that's where donations come in, which allows Food Outreach to reach more patients in need.
"To see it everyday, it just makes me as happy as I've ever been, and I really appreciate that," Hatfield says.
Food Outreach gave me a sneak-peak at some of the stellar items up for auction this Sunday. There are hundreds available through live and silent auctions, like a Miami vacation or trip to Colorado. You can bid for two tickets to the Commissioner's box at a Ccardinals game, or be a ringmaster at Circus flora! How about taking a personal, guided tour of St. Louis' famous Bellefontaine Cemetery? That's just to name a few...
A Tasteful Affair is this Sunday from 1-5 p.m. at the Chase Park Plaza. VIPs get a preview of auction items for $122 a ticket (Get it? It's the 22nd annual event...) The main event costs $50 in advance and $70 at the door. I hope to see you there!