What’s Kathleen Matthews Doing in a Hairnet?

Kathleen Matthews helping out at DC Central Kitchen. Photograph by Sara Levine.

Yesterday morning at DC Central Kitchen, hotel magnate Bill Marriott rolled up his sleeves to help students in the kitchen’s culinary job training program prepare over 4,000 meals for homeless shelters throughout the city. Kathleen Matthews, Marriott’s executive vice president of global communications, donned a plastic apron and made a roux. Dozens of Marriott employees pitched in for this day of community service, including Bill Marriott’s son Steve and daughter Debbie, both executives in the company.

Pastry chef Kate Jansen (right) provided the students with baking tips. Photograph by Sara Levine.

Once the day’s meals were ready to go, Marriott volunteers enjoyed special desserts prepared by Central Kitchen’s students, participants in a 12-week program for unemployed adults who are either homeless or receiving public assistance. To celebrate the 80th anniversary of the Marriott company’s beginnings—it started as a root beer stand that became the first Hot Shoppes restaurant—students worked in teams to create new versions of the original Hot Shoppes apple pie. Kate Jansen, pastry chef at Ballston’s Willow restaurant, was on hand to consult, but mostly let the teams run with their ideas.

DC Central Kitchen students explain their pies to the judges. Photograph by Sara Levine.

Bill, Steve, and Debbie sat on a panel of judges to taste and critique the five pies, which ranged from empanada-shaped apple pie turnovers to a traditional lattice-topped pie laced with cranberries. I helped judge, and there wasn't a bad pie in the bunch. The winner—a custard-topped pie with a sour cream-hazelnut crust—will be a featured dessert item this summer at the Metro Center Marriott, with proceeds going back to DC Central Kitchen. The ecstatic winning team, who called themselves “4 Sassy Sistas and a Brotha” took off in a limo for lunch and a tour at the J.W. Marriott hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue. Or, as Bill called it, a “potential future workplace.”