Dining Out For Life, an ActionsAIDS dining fundraising event, is held in 60 cities, includes more than 3,000 restaurants and raises more than $3 million each year. One of the faces of the annual fundraiser and three-year board member of ActionAIDS is celebrity chef Daisy Martinez. Here, Brooklyn-native Martinez opens up about family, friends, food and her personal connection to ActionAIDS.
What made you want to work with ActionAIDS?
AIDS and HIV is something that is very personal to me. Sadly, I've lost a lot of friends to the diesease, as well as family. It's something that--given the platform--I feel I have to be a part of.
Tell us about Daisy-licious, your ActionAIDS superhero alter ego. What's her story?
I cook delicious food. It's an intimate thing for me, so if you're sitting at my table, you know that I love you. I guess that's how the whole Daisy-licious thing came to be. I can’t wait to see what they’re going to do next year. Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade balloon? [laughs]
Where are you making a reservation for Dining Out For Life (April 24) this year?
Jose Garces' Amada. All the little tapas are a beautiful way to eat. My feeling is you learn a lot about a culture through its food. I think he does that beautifully there.
You're a mom, celebrity chef, an author of three global best-selling cookbooks and you are certified as a sommelier. What is your biggest motivation?
My dad--God love him--is very fond of saying, "every day above ground is a good one." I know what loss is. I've lost people that are close to me. I believe in my heart that if I don't live each day that is given to me to the fullest, I'm doing them a dishonor.
What is your connection to Philadelphia?
I have two sons that went to college in Philly and my third went to live in Philly, so mom was over there every chance she got. When I go to Philly, I go to eat. One of my favorite places is Parc in Rittenhouse Square. It has such a delicious, bistro vibe.
What is the biggest difference between Brooklyn and Philly?
They're very much alike in that Philly has well-defined neighborhoods, and the neighborhoods each have a distinct feeling. That's very much a Brooklyn thing. I think that's why I feel so comfortable in Philly.
Do you have a favorite Philadelphia memory?
I was the grand marshal at the 50th annual Puerto Rican Day Parade. I was so proud to have been asked to do that.
For more information on Dining Out For Life and a list of participating restaurants, visit diningoutforlife.com