Food showcase for a good cause

When a young Mexican butcher died because he didn’t have the means to proper healthcare, community leaders stepped up to make a difference for the future.

The Garces Foundation will hold the 10th Food Fest and Fundraiser on Sept. 29 at Live! Hotel and Casino Philadelphia to raise money for life-changing differences for local immigrant families. 

The Garces Foundation provides food, healthcare, education and dental services to its immigrant neighbors in Philadelphia, and aims to help Latin-American community members navigate the difficulties of healthcare accessibility that are exacerbated by limitations to necessary educational services that teach English proficiency.

The subject came to light in 2010 when a 26-year-old butcher named Felipe was suffering from thyroid cancer. Scared of possible deportation and unaware of where to seek help, Felipe suffered through a long and painful illness that spread from his thyroid, to his bones, to his other vital organs and eventually killed him.

“Since its start, the Garces Foundation has focused on ensuring that our immigrant neighbors, particularly those working in the hospitality industry, have access to the support they need in order to thrive in their communities and their lives,” said award-winning chef Jose Garces, who owns multiple restaurants in the area. “We started the organization following the death of one of my cooks from thyroid cancer. A life was lost due to a lack of access to medical care. We realized that it was vitally important to ensure that Philadelphia’s underserved immigrant community has access to health and educational services.”

Prior to his death, Felipe was brought to Dr. Beatriz Garces’ dental office by his co-workers because they didn’t know where else to go. Dr. Garces took him to the emergency room and stayed by his side through surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation treatment at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

In July 2011, Dr. Garces helped Felipe return to Mexico where he could be with his family and see his 10-year-old daughter once more before he died. The Garces Foundation was founded in Felipe’s memory with the purpose of ensuring that the immigrant community has access to and knows where to find the resources to live healthy, educated, nutritious lives.

“I am so incredibly proud of, and grateful for, our loyal staff of volunteers and directors that are on the ground daily, ensuring that our mission at the Garces Foundation is getting accomplished,” Jose Garces said. “From running medical and dental clinics, to engaging in English language learning programs.”

In support of the Garces Foundation, the food showcase will be held from 7-10 p.m. and will include three dozen top chefs and restaurants from the area, complemented by food, drinks, live music, dancing, photo opportunities, exclusive auctions and other surprises. Guests will enjoy unlimited bites and sips while they mix and mingle for the cause.

Garces will showcase culinary offerings from Amada, Volver, Buena Onda, The Olde Bar, Village Whiskey, Hook and Master and Garces Trading Company. Garces restaurants will be joined by Izakaya by Yanaga, Bridget Foy’s, Dim Sum House by Jane G’s, Restaurant Aleksandar, Forsythia, Rex at the Royal, Ripplewood Whiskey & Craft, Fork, Wilder, A Mano and many others. Drinks will be provided courtesy of Yards Brewing Company, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Ampel Wine and Stateside Vodka. 

“I’m excited to bring some of Philadelphia’s finest chefs together in one room again in support of the Garces Foundation and the important work it does in the community,” said Chef Garces. “Although the restaurant industry has faced ongoing challenges, it’s amazing to see the continued outpouring of support from our chef community and its willingness to give back. I’ve been thrilled to see the continued support for our work. Thank you to the supporting restaurants, chefs and our generous sponsors.”

Tickets are $150 for general admission, $200 for VIP and $295 for VIP and After Party. For tickets and more information, visit

Live entertainment will be provided by local band Snacktime. Festivities will also include a wine pull, photo booths and a live/silent auction.

The highlights of this year’s auction include a once-in-a-lifetime dinner for 10 prepared by James Beard Award-winning chefs Marc Vetri, Greg Vernick and Jose Garces, plus a dinner prepared by Christina Martinez and Jose Garces for the winner and friends. Other exciting feature items in the auction include “Being a Chef for the Day” at Forsythia where you will spend an afternoon in Forsythia’s kitchen with Chef Chris Kearse followed by dinner in the restaurant enjoying the food you prepared together.

Guests are encouraged to dress in cocktail attire and come ready to celebrate the region’s food scene while raising money for the immigrant community.

“We just spent the last two years staying in and dressing casual. This is one of the best parties of the year, and it’s a great excuse to get dressed up and hit the town,” Garces said. “Thanks to the support of the community, the Garces Foundation has provided more than $350,000 worth of dental care to over 900 patients in 2021, and fed nearly 20,000 families since the start of the pandemic. Still there is so much more to do. Please join us.”