Baltimore Diner: Ted Allen wants you to Dine out for Life

The fund-raising event gives donations to Moveable Feast

  • Ted Allen is one of the founders of Dining for Life.
Ted Allen is one of the founders of Dining for Life. (Elizabeth Malby, Baltimore…)
September 11, 2012|By Richard Gorelick, The Baltimore Sun

Baltimore will hold its 19th annual Dining Out for Life fundraiser on Sept. 20. Once again, participating restaurants will donate between 20 percent and 50 percent of their daily take to Moveable Feast, an organization that prepares and delivers meals to homebound men and women.

Ted Allen remembers his first Dining Out for Life.

"It was 21 years ago," the TV host and cookbook author said. "It was a first date, in Chicago, at an Italian restaurant named Bella Vista, which is now closed. I got the pasta and cream sauce."

The Emmy and James Beard-award winning host of "Chopped," the Food Network's popular culinary competition show, is a national spokesman for Dining Out for Life, the annual dining fundraising event that raises money for AIDS service organizations. The actress Pam Grier and chef Daisy Martinez are the others.

Dining out For Life was created in 1991 in Philadelphia and quickly spread to other cities, and its simple fundraising model has been widely imitated. Diners will often make an donation to the cause. "It's a win-win-win," Allen said. "Dining out for Life puts customers in seats, the kind of loyal customers who will reward your restaurant."

Allen has a new cookbook, "In My Kitchen," which he said is partly a response to ones designed to get people out of the kitchen. "I want to rekindle the idea that the kitchen can be a place of adventure and discovery. Cooking might be enjoyable with your friends, families and kids," Allen said. "I'd rather be cooking than playing golf."

Although Allen had nothing but admiration for the speedy skills contestants demonstrate on "Chopped," he acknowledged that it's not "real cooking," or even the kind of cooking he's partial to. "My favorite food is slow food," Allen said, slow-braised pork shoulders, chilies and stews.

Allen said that most of the promotional work they do for Dining Out for Life is in the spring. Almost all of the 60-some cities participating in Dining Out for Life hold their event on the same day in April. Baltimore is one of the few cities that doesn't, which gave Allen time to talk about Baltimore's Dining Out for Life.

For a list of participating restaurants, go to

A pleasant peninsula Delmarva's Southern Cafe opened last Friday in Canton. The new comfort food restaurant, located in the Harbor Enterprise Center, also known as the Broom Factory, will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner.

On the menu are biscuit sandwiches, baked cheese skillets, country-fried rib-eye, cheesy shrimp and grits, burgers and Tenderjack's chicken tenders, a specialty at Tenderjack's, the Virginia-based restaurants owners Paul Stratmeyer and David Levitt have a share in.

Levitt was an owner of the Tenderjack's in Leesburg, Va., with two other partners. He and Stratmeyer bought the Tenderjack's brand from the remaining partners to form Delmarva's Southern Cafe. They will be converting the Tenderjack's in Leesburg to a Delmarva's Southern Cafe, and a Delmarva's Southern Cafe and Taphouse, featuring locally crafted beer and wine, is set to open in October in Sterling, Va., with additional taphouses scheduled for Arlington and Quantico in 2013.

Delmarva's Southern Cafe is at 3500 Boston St. in Canton. For information call 410-327-1980 or go to

Back on the highway Gino's Burgers & Chicken opened last Thursday in Glen Burnie, in the same building used by the original Gino's franchise in the 1950s. The Ritchie Highway location is the first in Anne Arundel County for the revived franchise.

Established under the name Gino's in 1959 and named for its co-founder, Baltimore Colt Hall of Fame defensive end Gino Marchetti, the restaurant franchise moved its headquarters to King of Prussia, Pa., before being purchased by the Marriott Corp. The last of the original Gino's closed in 1991.

The chain was revived by a group of former Gino's executives as Gino's Burgers & Chicken. The first store opened in November 2010 in King of Prussia. The first Maryland location for the rebooted franchise opened in August 2011 in Towson. A Bel Air store followed, and plans were announced in August for three Harford County locations.

Gino's Burgers & Chicken is at 7958 Ritchie Highway. For more information, call 410-768-4730 or go

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