Putting Our Money Where Our Mouth Is – Virtual Chef’s Table with Ethan Stowell

By United Way of King County, on November 10, 2020 | In Change Makers, Eat, Drink & Be Generous, Emerging Leaders 365

This blog post was written by Emerging Leaders 365 donor and Microsoft Emerging Leaders Committee Member Anurag Choudhary – Software Engineer at Microsoft.  

Following a successful Connect For Good during Microsoft’s GIVE month, United Way King County, along with the Microsoft Emerging Leaders Committee, hosted celebrity chef and campaign co-chair Ethan Stowell and United Way President and CEO Gordon McHenry, Jr. for an exciting edition of Virtual Chef’s table on the 28th of October. In the audience were donors from Microsoft, including Emerging Leaders 365 and Change Makers, plus United Way staff.  The roughly hour-and-a-half-long event was a tasteful combination of a live cooking session with Ethan along with learning how donor dollars are helping United Way tackle hunger, homelessness and racial inequity – the top urgent and immediate issues during this pandemic. 

Earlier in the day, Ethan’s team had distributed the ingredients across multiple restaurants in Seattle (based on the participant’s preference) and shipped them for participants from the East Side. I was warmly surprised at how neatly and beautifully they were packed when I picked them up from Tavolata in Capitol Hill. On the menu that night was a variety of fresh and light salads (Little Gem and Endive Salad, Artichoke and Farro Salad), Roasted Mushrooms, Sauteed Green Beans, Marinated Castelvetrano Olives and a choice of Seared Sea Scallops or Roasted Beef Tenderloins. A bunch of us were already munching on the olives as the event started with people filling in the Zoom grid! 

meal kits sitting infront of laptop while event participant watches virtual chefs table
The meal kit consisted of ingredients neatly separated into boxes, menu cards and personal letters from Ethan and United Way King County

Maggie Kruger, Microsoft Emerging Leaders 365 Committee co-chair, introduced Ethan, Gordan, and the Microsoft Emerging Leaders Committee, then talked about her own experiences being an Emerging Leader 365. Philip Rueker, Microsoft Change Makers Committee member, described his experience cooking with Ethan last summer and how excited he was for the second edition. Gordan then took stage to talk about the key issues that UWKC is helping solve – homelessness, hunger and racial inequity. He mentioned how the pandemic has severely burdened the economy of the region to the point where more than 500,000 people had lost their jobs since March. It’s amplified the pre-existing problem of homelessness which affect Black, African, and Native Americans disproportionately due to systemic racism. He talked about how UWKC rebuilt its eviction prevention program, Home Base, that has already helped more than 8,400 individuals through its rental assistance program. He shared how 70% of the applicants are people of color, some of which are not eligible to receive federal or public benefits, and how the existing prevention resources to keep people in their homes are not enough. He wrapped up this segment with a few prize questions with the winners receiving a copy of Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents, by Isabel Wilkerson and a $50 card to JuneBaby in Ravenna.

The evening then picked up pace as Ethan began his cooking demo. He elegantly multitasked as he worked on multiple dishes at a time, while talking through the steps, answering questions and chatting about his experience with United Way! The participants (including me) followed closely but were able to refer to the useful recipe cards from the kit to catch up should they get behind. Ethan talked about his love for light food where the flavor is deep and discernible, his favorite pan, knife and oil, and future Ethan Stowell Restaurant ideas. In the next 40 minutes of the interactive demo, we were ready with our plating, ready to devour the delicious food in front of us. Ethan and Gordon praised everyone’s efforts and reminded us about continuing to give beyond the GIVE month (365 level – $30/month or Change Maker level – $100/month).  

Meal kits assembled sitting in front of laptop with video of virtual chefs table.
Gordon makes closing comments as we all showed off our plating

Overall, it was a night full of learning – some of it somber, like hearing more about issues affecting our community, and some of it fun – like how to cook dishes we would only expect at restaurants. It also reminded us how, despite the pandemic, we’re in this together and can celebrate and contribute as a community. 

Interested in joining an Eat, Drink, and Be Generous event yourself? Check out our upcoming events.


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