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Open Hand celebrating 25th anniversary
by By Megan Thornton
mthornton@neighbornewspapers.com
September 11, 2013 11:41 AM | 1593 views | 0 0 comments | 35 35 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Special / Lynn Crow Photography / Event co-chairs for Party in the Kitchen, a fundraising event benefitting Open Hand, pose in their white attire in preparation for the all-white party. Pictured, from left: Helen Carlos, Chef Kevin Rathbun, Rebecca Bily and Chef Gerry Klaskala.
Special / Lynn Crow Photography / Event co-chairs for Party in the Kitchen, a fundraising event benefitting Open Hand, pose in their white attire in preparation for the all-white party. Pictured, from left: Helen Carlos, Chef Kevin Rathbun, Rebecca Bily and Chef Gerry Klaskala.
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Special / Lynn Crow Photography / Twenty Atlanta-area chefs prepare for last year’s Party in the Kitchen event.
Special / Lynn Crow Photography / Twenty Atlanta-area chefs prepare for last year’s Party in the Kitchen event.
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Special / Lynn Crow Photography / Guests mingle and try samples from top-rated Atlanta chefs during last year’s Party in the Kitchen.
Special / Lynn Crow Photography / Guests mingle and try samples from top-rated Atlanta chefs during last year’s Party in the Kitchen.
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Special Photo / Southwest Airlines employees Angel Thompson and Setera Merchant help serve food at Open Hand. Southwest will have about 30 employees volunteering this year at Party in the Kitchen.
Special Photo / Southwest Airlines employees Angel Thompson and Setera Merchant help serve food at Open Hand. Southwest will have about 30 employees volunteering this year at Party in the Kitchen.
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To celebrate 25 years of serving fresh and healthy meals to Atlantans in need, Buckhead nonprofit Open Hand will hold its 10th annual Party in the Kitchen to support its nutrition education and meal delivery programs.

After serving its 20 millionth meal in December 2011, Open Hand organizers are working to widen their reach with an expanded 27,000-square-foot headquarters to be completed in April.

“It’s such a monumental year for us,” said Matt Pieper, executive director of Open Hand. “When I think of where we’ve been, it’s very humbling and a really proud reflection. But when I think about where we’re headed, that’s when I get really excited about the potential.”

Pieper began volunteering just shortly after the organization was established in 1988 by founder Michael Edwards-Pruitt in his home kitchen. Now Pieper is at the helm of what has become the country’s largest community-based provider of home-delivered, medically appropriate meals, relying on more than 25,000 volunteers to prepare, package and deliver more than 5,000 meals each day to clients in 17 Georgia counties. The organization also employs eight full-time registered dieticians to provide nutrition education, counseling and therapy to men, women, children and homebound seniors.

Throughout the years, the mission has evolved to care for people with chronic and terminal illnesses. To better serve the growing demand, construction has begun on the 10,000-square-foot facility at 176 Ottley Drive in south Buckhead to expand the kitchen, packaging and distribution area, administrative offices and volunteer training space.

“Open Hand began as a really grassroots organization dedicated to providing meals for men and women who were dying of HIV and AIDS,” Pieper said. “I think Open Hand serves as a great example of how a community should respond when people are faced with incredibly difficult odds.”

Party in the Kitchen attendees will enjoy music, cocktails and dishes prepared from some of the best-known chefs in Atlanta, including Ted Lahey, executive chef of Roswell’s Table & Main and Kevin Gillespie, who opened the Gunshow restaurant in Glenwood Park in May.

Community Events Manager Jean Goffaux said for the first time, there will be a live auction where guests can bid on dinners and other offerings from all participating restaurants, including a four-course dinner with wine pairings for two at Aria in Buckhead.

In 2012 the event raised $250,000 and the goal is to top that total this year, Goffeaux said.

“One of the greatest things about our party is it’s a really intimate venue and you get to experience 20 of Atlanta’s finest chefs in one space,” she said. “It’s not every day that you get to meet the chefs from all the restaurants you love to visit. It’s a really great experience, especially for foodies, to go talk to those chefs and learn more about the inspiration behind their dishes.”

If you go:

What: Party in the Kitchen benefitting Open Hand

When: Sept. 19 with VIP reception at 6:30 p.m. and main event at 7:30 p.m.

Where: The Event Gallery at King Plow Arts Center, 887 W. Marietta St., Midtown

Cost: $200 for individual tickets, $500 for VIP tickets. Guests are requested to wear all white.

Information: partyinthekitchen.org

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