Jen Hidinger

The Giving Kitchen

Jen exemplifies courage, having founded The Giving Kitchen to carry forward the embrace that the Atlanta restaurant community showed to her husband (may he rest in peace) and helping run the award-winning restaurant that was their dream.

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Courage is something I can't help but see when I look at what Jen has accomplished and continues to do each day. After her husband was diagnosed with cancer, she helped him to fight a very public battle with the disease and to form the non-profit that now serves peace of mind to the entire Atlanta restaurant community. And Jen is the smiling face that greets diners entering the award winning Staplehouse restaurant (which in turn supports the non-profit). Her courage in the face of tragedy is contagious to those she touches every day. She delivers inspiring talks to gatherings like TED events and hospitality industry conferences, showing the power of courage in the face of adversity.

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Jen's mission is to carry on her husband's legacy of courage, commitment to excellence, and care for community - and to expand the embrace that they were given to others in need on a daily basis.

The Giving Kitchen, which Jen helped found and which she serves as spokesperson, has now awarded over $1.4 million in crisis grants to over 750 Atlanta restaurant workers facing unanticipated hardships. Her restaurant, Staplehouse, delights diners as one of the best restaurants in the country (see Bon Appetit magazine, GQ, and James Beard) - and she is the smiling face who greets diners every night of service.

Jen's ability to tell her story in a way that inspires other is what I most admire. She shows the courage she had to summon, and shares it in a way that helps others summon similar bravery.

This donation would help The Giving Kitchen meet the needs of a community that has little in the way of real safety nets. Far too many restaurant workers are a paycheck away from losing their home, or not being able to pay critical bills. The Giving Kitchen offers crisis grants that directly pay living expenses for restaurant workers facing unanticipated hardships like accidents, illness, or natural disasters. These grants help workers in need get back on their feet, get back to work, and avoid having a hardship turn into something far worse. $50,000 would help The Giving Kitchen serve over 25 workers in crisis.

Juggling a non-profit and a restaurant is not easy. Having an award-winning restaurant that serves a non-profit is almost unheard of. Jen makes it work. And inspires others with her courage in the process.

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