Chef Jon Emanuel on Feeding 1,100 People with Life-Threatening Illnesses as Much Local and Organic As Possible…On A Budget

“We consider love an ingredient. When we prepare our meals, we are fully aware of who we are cooking for and why we are doing it.” – Chef Jon Emanuel

Project Angel Heart “delivers nutritious meals to improve quality of life, at no cost, for those coping with life-threatening illness.” On top of that, they pursue ambitious sustainability and local purchasing goals.

Project Angel Heart started in 1991 supporting a dozen AIDS sufferers with donated lasagna. They have since expanded to serve all life threatening illnesses and today, serve 1,100 people with weekly food deliveries, at no cost, in their time of need. That’s six chefs and countless volunteers making and delivering 5,500 restaurant-quality meals per week, customized to the unique dietary needs of each client. At the same time, they sourced 30% of their food locally and diverted over 50 tons of waste from landfills through composting and recycling in 2014. That’s impressive scale and complexity and Project Angel Heart plans to nearly triple in size over the next ten years.

Chef Jon Emanuel is the Executive Chef at Project Angel Heart and has been has been a professional chef for over 20 years. Jon trained at the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco (and majored in radio in college, I might add). He has appeared in Food & Wine, Saveur and The New York Times. His career has taken him to some amazing places including long-term Executive Chef positions in the wilds of Alaska and at South Pole Station, Antarctica. Jon lives in northwest Denver with his wife, Penny, and their two French bulldogs, Cosmo and Olive.


  • What cooking in Antarctica teaches you about sustainability…and eating what you’re served
  • Why the 8,000 volunteers are what Jon loves most about his job
  • Why composting is his favorite sustainability initiative
  • What “Responsible Food” means and why minimizing waste is one of the biggest pieces
  • How they balance food cost with their sustainability goals
  • Why buying local food supports not only high quality food but stronger communities
  • How they plan to triple in size without losing their sustainability mission
  • How individual and community organic gardens are their best source of organic produce



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  1. Wouldn’t a million clones of you make the world a better place? And how!!!! Thank you so much for what you do for so many in need.

    We’ve met – – I’m your folks’ neighbor (and friend) across the street at the Steinbeck Apartments). Keep on keepin’ on. You’re sorely needed in this mad, mad world.


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