It was Fall, 2005 and West Mount Airy Neighbors was in need of an event. They wanted an event that celebrated the diversity and friendliness of the neighborhood while raising some money to support the wonderful organization. So, a small group of then WMAN board members sat around and threw out some ideas.
During the previous year, we had held a jazz brunch on a Sunday morning at which we honored a local business leader. Although that event had attracted a good turnout and raised some funds, it was very much like what every organization does to raise funds. We wanted to be different!
A group member who had lived elsewhere, told us about a dinner event, held in people’s homes that had benefited a non-profit with which she had been involved. That idea seized and seeded the imagination of our group, and Eat Your Heart Out (EYHO) was born. We decided to start the evening off with a big cocktail party at which everybody would come together, having paid to attend the event. We then decided that we would look for various households willing to subsidize a dinner for 10 people whom they did not know. The next step was to pair those households with a volunteer amateur chef from the neighborhood. All of the dinners would occur simultaneously and the guests would begin the evening not knowing each other, having been placed at their dinner by the EYHO planning committee. The emphasis was to be on creating an environment in each home in which we hoped that, by the time dinner ended, true connections would have sprouted up among guests. We had no clue as to whether this concept would attract enough people to make our efforts worthwhile, but we decided that it wouldn’t hurt to try.
You probably know the rest of the story. Eat Your Heart Out, even in its first year, was extremely successful. In fact, that year, we needed at the last minute to call upon several households to handle the overflow registrants for the event, by opening up their homes to a dinner. Over the years, it has become more of a “foodie” event than when we first came up with the idea. For the last few years, we have been fortunate to have several of the chefs of Mount Airy’s finest restaurants participate as well as some local caterers. We still have some talented amateur chefs cooking dinner as well. As for hosts, many extremely generous West Mount Airy residents have opened up their homes and their pocketbooks to have participants dine at their table. Some of our hosts have been willing to do so multiple times over the years. However, we always strive to keep EYHO fresh by seeking out new hosts and new chefs.
It appears that we have succeeded because EYHO retains its character as a community dinner first and foremost, in which people have a great time socializing with each other right in our own neighborhood. Thus, as you are reading this, keep in mind that you can showcase your amazing culinary skills as a chef for EYHO, 2015. Likewise, if the possibility appeals to you of opening up your home as an EYHO host to a lively group of guests who love our wonderful part of the city, please let us know and we will contact you later on this year when planning begins for EYHO, 2015. Til then, congratulations to the Hosts and Chefs of 2014 for a wonderful night in West Mt. Airy!