The Bob Woodruff Foundation‘s annual Dine Out for Heroes initiative has benefited wounded and ill veterans and their families since 2014. This year, it aims to make both hearts and stomachs fuller than ever. Dine Out for Heroes takes place Nov. 11, in which participating restaurants across New York City will donate $1 per dinner order to the foundation.
The idea for Dine Out for Heroes originated from restaurateurs Penny and Peter Glazier (The Glazier Group) as an extension of the annual Stand Up for Heroes event, presented by the Bob Woodruff Foundation and the New York Comedy Festival. Caroline Hirsch, co-founder of NYCF and owner of the iconic Carolines on Broadway comedy club, said that she was dining with the Glaziers when they said they wanted to help veterans and decided to start planning Dine Out for Heroes. Woodruff (ABC News) himself echoed the sentiment of owing it to the Glaziers.
“Dine Out for Heroes was the idea of Penny and Peter Glazier, who were inspired by our Stand Up for Heroes benefit,” Woodruff told Variety. “They saw an opportunity to extend that goodwill by engaging the restaurant community to support our nation’s injured veterans.” This year, the involvement of Mario Batali and more celebrity chefs and their restaurants, including Alex Guarnaschelli (Butter) and Geoffrey Zakarian (The Lambs Club), should make for a fruitful fundraising effort.
“We’ve been fortunate to see a growing number of celebrity chefs join our efforts and enlist the participation of others, which has generated excitement,” Woodruff said. “The event began in Manhattan, yet last year we saw the addition of participants in the boroughs and suburbs. Ultimately, we’d love to see it expand across the country.”
Guarnaschelli and Zakarian both star as judges on the Food Network‘s popular competition series “Chopped,” and their star power could give Dine Out for Heroes the boost that it needs in order to fulfill Woodruff’s hopes of expansion.
Chef charity events seem to be getting more high-profile this year with the success of initiatives like José Andrés’ World Central Kitchen, a nonprofit that garnered attention for serving 130,000 meals in Puerto Rico after it got struck by Hurricane Maria. As Dine Out for Heroes grows its popularity, Hirsch does “see this event expanding around the country and being a national event every Veterans Day. We still need awareness and support for our veterans.”
Guarnaschelli said that she has always admired the work that Dine Out for Heroes does. “I was honored when the team approached me to become involved,” she said. “This year they asked me to head the culinary council and help spread awareness.” For his part, Zakarian said, “I was asked to join the culinary council this year along with my esteemed colleagues. Bob Woodruff is a real gentleman and philanthropist. His charity raises significant money for veterans and their families.”
Woodruff explained that the meaning of the event lies in the debt our nation owes to veterans. “It’s far too easy to forget that we are still a nation at war and the needs of our returning service members, especially those who have been injured, will last for years to come,” he said. “We owe it to them to recognize their sacrifices and to empower them to succeed. Dine Out for Heroes is a simple way for both restaurants and diners to connect to our cause and keep our veterans front of mind.”
Stand Up for Heroes, which includes a 2017 lineup of Trevor Noah, John Mulaney, Hasan Minhaj, Conan O’Brien, John Oliver, Jon Stewart and Red Hot Chili Peppers, takes place Nov. 7.