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Eat Well, Do Justice: Kugels for a Good Cause

August 30, 2017

Tzedek DC - Eat Well, Do Justice!

Kugel, a traditional Jewish casserole typically made with egg noodles or potatoes and served during holidays and other special events, is the featured dish of Tzedek DC’s Eat Well, Do Justice! 2017 Celebrity Chef Kugel Cook-Off, taking place September 25 at the University of the District of Columbia’s Student Center Ballroom.

The cook-off pairs star chefs from thriving local restaurants with members of the D.C. legal community, with proceeds benefitting low-income D.C. residents who are dealing with debt-related legal issues.

“We felt this cook-off would be a creative addition to the many public interest events that happen in Washington, D.C.—and it’s for a great cause,” says Ariel Levinson-Waldman, president and director-counsel of Tzedek DC.

Tzedek DC was launched in February 2017 as a public interest center headquartered at UDC’s David A. Clarke School of Law to provide legal assistance to low-income families in the District facing financial issues. The organization, which was established through a fellowship from the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, has three core goals: provide education and financial literacy for residents, advocate for policy reform in the District, and offer direct legal services—both representation in court and advice—for those who need it.

“Too many people do not have access to legal help that can significantly improve their lives,” says Roy L. Austin Jr., a partner at Harris, Wiltshire & Grannis LLP, a former U.S. deputy assistant attorney general for civil rights, and a member of Tzedek DC’s Advisory Council. “We felt that the cook-off would be a terrific way to bring awareness to these issues.”

Irv B. Nathan, former D.C. attorney general, former chair of the Bar’s Legal Ethics Committee, and Tzedek DC board member, agrees: “It’s an opportunity to enjoy an entertaining evening with friends and colleagues in support of increasing access to the legal system for D.C. families facing debt crises.”

How did Tzedek DC decide on kugel? The idea came from Courtney Weiner, a founding board member and a consumer finance law solo practitioner, who was inspired by her grandmother’s kugel cook-off event at a synagogue in San Antonio.

Tzedek DC’s plan for a cook-off caught the attention of Washington Post deputy food editor Bonnie Benwick, who helped the organization attract a diverse group of local celebrity chefs to take part. Chefs include Kyle Bailey of The Salt Line, Mike Friedman of Red Hen and All Purpose, Danny Lee of Mandu and Chiko, Alex Levin of the Schlow Restaurant Group, and Pati Jinich, host of the PBS series “Pati’s Mexican Table.”

Guest judges for the cook-off include journalist David Gregory, cookbook author Joan Nathan, and former D.C. Bar presidents Annamaria Steward and Marna S. Tucker. Tucker clinched a spot as a judge thanks to her own kugel recipe.

“Marna makes one of the best kugels I’ve ever had!” Weiner reveals.

Seth Rosenthal is a pro bono partner at Venable LLP, which provided Tzedek DC one of its first grants through the Venable Foundation. Rosenthal is also a member of Tzedek DC’s Advisory Council and a cohost of the event. He is excited about what’s in store for attendees.

“This is a great event and a great cause. Together, with my partners Claude Bailey and Allyson Baker, and our now-retired partner Ron Glancz, I have enthusiastically supported Tzedek DC’s efforts from the outset,” Rosenthal says. “Tzedek DC helps level the playing field for District residents facing the specter of life-altering litigation and educates community members so that they never find themselves at risk in the first place.”

Steward, who recently served as associate dean of students at the Clarke School of Law, adds, “The 2017 Celebrity Chef Kugel Cook-Off will be a fun and delicious way to celebrate these great efforts to help the city’s most vulnerable people.”

For more information on the Eat Well, Do Justice! 2017 Celebrity Chef Kugel Cook-Off, visit the website or get tickets here.