Word of Mouth

The Dish on Jensen Cummings, CRA's Philanthropist Award Winner

As chef at the now-defunct Row 14, Jensen Cummings was used to being asked to participate in charity events; out of 150 requests, he did 31 events in 2013. And even as he made plans to open his own spot, the Slotted Spoon Meatball Eatery, at 2730 South Colorado Boulevard, he was thinking there had to be a better way for restaurants to work with nonprofits. So when Slotted Spoon opened in February 2013, it did so with a Heroes Against Hunger essay contest with a local school; the three fifth-graders who wrote the winning essays were honored at the restaurant's opening festivities. A few months later, Cummings hosted a block party benefiting three nonprofits with Jeff Osaka, Matt Selby, Tyler Wiard, Brandon Foster and Daniel Asher (all chefs renowned for their charitable efforts), where kids could show off produce they'd grown. And that wasn't the only thing growing that summer: Cummings had just learned that he and his wife, an events manager, were having a son, and that news and the success of the party provided the catalyst to turn Heroes Against Hunger into Heroes Like Us, a full-fledged nonprofit that could focus on helping restaurants work better with nonprofits -- and vice versa. "Independently owned restaurants, which take the biggest burden in these nonprofit events, are essentially nonprofits themselves," Cummings points out. See also: The Dish on Paul and Aileen Reilly, CRA's Best Newcomers Award-Winners