In Praise of Good Friends, Good Food, Good Work

Dine In, Help Out is a local effort that gathers friends around the table to help Philadelphians in need. And we’re proud to say we had them first.

Photo by Jared CastaldiNothing stokes the holiday spirit quite like a party, and Main Liners know a thing or two about throwing a great one. It’s no secret that the best soirees revolve around fantastic food, which makes “Dine In, Help Out” one of the coolest local charitable campaigns out there.

“The people of the Main Line lead rich lives, with abundant resources that connect them to the community,” says “Dine In” founder Jan Shaeffer, who’s also the executive director of the program’s beneficiary, St. Christopher’s Foundation for Children in Philadelphia. “Volunteerism, at some level, seems to be a core value here, which creates opportunities for activism, philanthropy and participation. A ‘Dine In’ host is able to combine many of these elements.”

The concept is a no-brainer: Skip a night at a restaurant and host dinner for friends at home. Then donate the cash you would’ve spent eating out to the foundation’s Farm to Families program, which provides fresh produce to North Philadelphians while educating them about healthy eating options. More than 600 people—many of them from this area—have hosted dinner parties big and small since the program’s 2010 launch. “Pat Burns (owner of the Fresh Grocer) and his wife raised over $11,000 with a 45-person event at their home in Newtown Square,” says Shaeffer, one of the 21 “Power Women” featured in our October 2012 issue. “Their elegant outdoor feast turned late-night raucous, with live music and karaoke by the pool.”

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We “dropped in” on a pair of more recent “Dine In” events in Bryn Mawr—one hosted by Laura Getty and the other by cookbook author Hope Cohen. The photos from both are featured in “Look Who’s Coming to Dinner”. Hopefully, it will inspire more dinner parties around here.

Also in this issue: As with our latest Top Dentists and Top Lawyers rankings, we turned to national ratings database Avvo for this month’s Top Doctors cover story. Only those practitioners with 8.8-10 ratings are included in our winners’ list. (For a complete listing, visit Also note that we’ve added otolaryngology to our categories this year—that’s ear, nose and throat to most of us.

Gone too soon: After not quite two years, Beth Ceccarelli is leaving her post as MLT’s Food & Drink Editor to focus on postgraduate courses at Drexel University, where she’s studying to be a registered dietitian. A sharp writer with a genuine passion for food, Beth will be missed.

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Our Best of the Main Line Elimination Ballot is open through February 22!