Washington D.C. (January 13, 2017) – Spike Mendelsohn understands the responsibility better than most. Over the course of his career, he has competed on Bravo’s “Top Chef,” Food Network’s “Iron Chef,” hosted the channel's "Kitchen Sink," and appeared on “The Rachel Ray Show,” among other marquee events. This celebrity has afforded him more exposure than any time cooking on the line ever could, even if it’s been at the helm of three celebrated Washington, D.C.area concepts—Good Stuff Eatery, We, The Pizza, and Béarnaise. It’s what he transforms this influence into, though, Chef Mendelsohn says, that will define his career.
“Chefs don’t ever forget where they came from,” he says. “They came from kitchens, dish pits, line cooks, all this kind of stuff. That’s why we can easily resonate with the working-class people. … For chefs to take the lead and be great advocates on behalf of all food issues is a phenomenon that we’re seeing happening, especially in the last 10 years in a really big way.”
On November 10, Chef Mendelsohn co-hosted the Capital Food Fight with ThinkFoodGroup owner and culinary icon José Andrés for the first time. The event raised a reported $694,000 for DC Central Kitchen, a local nonprofit that leverages food as a tool to better lives. The 25-year organization equips unemployed men and women with the necessary skills to enter the culinary workforce and takes advantage of its extensive network to place students into positions around the city, as well as distributing healthy food to its 80 nonprofit partners.
“I’ve met students in their first week of courses and they seem very unsure of themselves,” says Chef Mendelsohn, who is a contributor to DC Central Kitchen. “They often feel like there’s a microscope on them. But as they go through the program and interact with the students and the educators and the random chefs like myself who come through, the more they start to believe in themselves and shape their future.”