The Scope


Insights | News | Podcast | Uncategorized |

David Hagedorn, Acclaimed Chef, Food Journalist & LGBTQ Activist: Hosting Extraordinary Cause-Oriented Events—ECEO0052 David Hagedorn Part 1

David Hagedorn, Acclaimed Chef, Food Journalist & LGBTQ Activist: Hosting Extraordinary Cause-Oriented Events—ECEO0052 David Hagedorn Part 1

Hosting Extraordinary Cause-Oriented Events—ECEO0052 David Hagedorn Part 1

What does it take to put on a successful cause-oriented event? David Hagedorn argues that it’s much like hosting a successful dinner party or running a successful restaurant. Whether he’s having a small group of friends over for dinner or organizing the annual Chefs for Equality event to raise money for LGBTQ rights, David leverages his background as a chef and attention to detail to create an extraordinary guest experience.

David enjoyed a 25-year career in the restaurant business, serving as a cook, acclaimed chef and restaurateur before making his debut as a food journalist with the Washington Post in 2005. In addition to his work as an award-winning food columnist and dining critic, David has authored several cookbooks and pioneered two of Washington, DC’s top food- and restaurant-centered events, Chef’s Best and HRC Chefs for Equality. Known for his LGBTQ activism, David is committed to hosting successful cause-oriented events to support the queer community.

Today, David joins Rebecca Linder to discuss his role as a pioneer in organizing chef-centric events, explaining how his early experience as a chef inspired his activism. He offers insight around his initial vision for Chef’s Best and Chefs for Equality, describing how both became annual events that evolved over time. David also shares advice on making sure chefs are taken care of at events, addressing the value proposition for chefs and vendors who donate their time and product. Listen in to understand how David incorporates the element of surprise and learn what makes him successful at hosting celebrated cause-oriented events.

Topics include:

  • How David fell into the restaurant business and worked his way up
  • David’s role as a pioneer in organizing chef-centric events
  • How a one-off event to raise money for Food and Friends became Chef’s Best
  • How David’s partnership with the HRC grew into Chefs for Equality
  • What makes David successful at launching cause-oriented events
  • David’s focus on the details of guest experience at an event
  • Taking care of chefs at events vs. treating them like a commodity
  • The value proposition for chefs and bakers who donate their time to events
  • The sequence of events + element of surprise at Chefs for Equality
  • How being an accomplished chef contributes to David’s success with events
  • Creating new activations of established elements of an event (i.e.: wedding cakes)
  • David’s take on the future of the chef-centric event

 Mentioned in this podcast:


Chef’s Best Dinner and Auction

HRC Chefs for Equality

Food and Friends

Human Rights Campaign

Taste of the Nation

Buttercream Bakeshop

Bayou Bakery


Iron Gate

Amaryllis Floral & Event Design


David Hagedorn

Patrick O’Connell

Melissa Ballinger

Christopher Speron

Mollie Levin

Tom Sietsema

Christopher Vazquez

Erik Bruner-Yang

David Hagedorn

David Hagedorn Headshot

David Hagedorn is a chef-turned-food, design and travel writer from Washington, D.C. whose bylines include The Washington Post, The Local Palate, Garden & Gun and Home and Design. He is the restaurant critic for Arlington Magazine and Bethesda Magazine and co-author of The New Jewish Table: Modern Seasonal Recipes for Traditional Dishes; My Irish Table: Recipes from the Homeland and Restaurant Eve; and Rasika: Flavors of India.

Mr. Hagedorn has long been active in Washington, D.C.’s community affairs. He created the Chef’s Best Benefit in 1990, raising millions of dollars for Food & Friends, an organization that provides home-delivered meals for people living with HIV/AIDS and other life-threatening illnesses. He is also the creator and chair of Chefs for Equality for the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBTQ advocacy organization.

Build your Brand. Raise Revenue. Develop More Meaningful Relationships.
Enjoy the Process.