Culture / Foodie Events

The Most Important Dinner Parties in the World

What It’s Like to Host a FEED Supper

BY // 10.25.15
photography Jay Tovar

48.1 million — according to Feeding America, this is the number of Americans living in food-insecure households. It’s a staggering statistic that I didn’t become aware of until watching a Food Network special titled The Big Waste. The show’s mission was to bring awareness to America’s rampant waste problem by tasking star chefs Anne Burrell, Bobby Flay, Alex Guarnaschelli and Michael Symon with making a restaurant-quality meal using food that had been deemed “waste.” I learned that nearly 40 percent of food in America is wasted, which is equivalent to 35 million tons.

Though America’s hunger problem isn’t as dire as the 200 million people suffering in Sub-Saharan Africa or the 500 million people in Asia, 14 percent of U.S. households struggle to provide regular meals for their families, according to the USDA. While countries like France are working to help the food insecure with legislation that makes it illegal for food retailers to throw away edible food, there’s still a long way to go on the road to alleviating world hunger.

Lauren Bush Lauren attends a FEED Supper hosted by Food 52. (Photo courtesy Food 52)

A number of groups are working to fight hunger, and one of my favorites is FEED, the foundation started by Lauren Bush Lauren that creates products to help feed the world. Whether it’s the staple FEED bag or accessories and T-shirts, each product sold helps provide meals throughout America and abroad. (Fun fact: Each FEED product is stamped with the number of meals or micronutrient packets it will provide.) Last year, FEED expanded its scope of fund-raising to include FEED Suppers. From September 16 to October 16 (World Food Day), people all over the world are asked to host an intimate dinner party to raise awareness of world hunger and money to help combat it. Instead of asking guests to bring a dish or bottle of wine to dinner, they are encouraged to donate to the cause.

This year’s participants included social influencers such as Lauren Bush Lauren, Martha Stewart, Top Chef judge Gail Simmons, luxury designer Jenni Kayne, Danielle and Laura Kosann of The New Potato and entities including West Elm, Bon Appétit magazine and Adobe. One week beforeWorld Food Day this year, I realized I was no longer content with just watching the progress on the sidelines and decided to host my own FEED Supper. With a goal of raising $1,000, I teamed up with three friends — Dominique McGhee, Gabrielle Sauls and Kara Smith  and began planning a FEED Supper for 30 people.

Kara Smith, Jailyn Marcel, Gabrielle Sauls and Dominique McGhee

We had five days to plan and raise money by the October 16 deadline, but it’s amazing what can be accomplished when everyone is fighting for a great cause. Surprisingly, we reached our $1,000 goal in less than 48 hours, which prompted us to increase the goal to $3,000. With the overwhelming generosity of more than a few people, we were able to complete all our dinner arrangements within the tight deadline. The newly opened high-rise SkyHouse River Oaks provided its beautiful outdoor terrace as our location. Then the soon-to-be Hyatt Regency North (currently Hyatt North Houston; its transformation begins in November) stepped in, providing all of the food (including appetizers, entrees and desserts), cocktails (including a raspberry lemon-drop martini and whiskey peach tea), wine and flatware.

Chef Roger Benson rolled out a few favorites from the Hyatt’s new menu, including pulled-pork sliders topped with grilled onions, pickle chips and apple slaw; baked jumbo shrimp stuffed with crab meat and creole cream, served with wild rice and asparagus; shrimp-and-grits martinis made with cheddar grits and topped with andouille sausage, cherry tomatoes and jumbo shrimp deglazed with Shiner Bock beer; chef Sedra’s creole pasta made with tasso ham, onions, garlic, tomatoes, peas and bowtie pasta topped with creole cream, blackened chicken and parmesan cheese; strawberry romanoff with strawberries marinated in Grand Marnier and topped with cinnamon cream; and an old-fashioned float made with Saint Arnold’s root beer. The hotel also unveiled its signature red and white wines, Canvas, for guests, which they make in partnership with a vineyard in Napa Valley.

We ended our FEED Supper with nearly $3,000, but with one more day until the fund-raiser ended, we thought: Why stop here? Within the next 24 hours, we raised an additional $2,000, which helped us end our fund-raiser with a whopping $5,236. A paltry $1.10 provides 10 meals for those in need, so our efforts will generate 47,600 meals and contributed to the 2,000,000 meals FEED Suppers raised as a whole.

Though the FEED Supper period is over for this year, fund-raising is still live. If you would like to give to help provide additional meals, click here.

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