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Justine MacNeil (second from the left) was named the winner of the Purple Dessert Award at the 2022 Dish It Up event. Photo: Emily Leopard-Davis/AL DÍA News.
Justine MacNeil (second from the left) was named the winner of the Purple Dessert Award at the 2022 Dish It Up event. Photo: Emily Leopard-Davis/AL DÍA News.

Dish It Up 2022 highlights the perseverance of domestic violence survivors

On Wednesday, May 18, Women Against Abuse’s 14th annual Dish It Up event took place at Lincoln Financial Field.

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Domestic violence affects 1 in 4 women, and 1 in 10 men in the United States.

With the thousands of individuals who have or are experiencing domestic violence, organizations that provide help and support for these individuals are critically important. 

Since 2009, Women Against Abuse — Philadelphia’s leading domestic violence advocate and service provider — has hosted its annual Dish It Up event. 

Dish It Up is the only woman chef competition in the area, and has consistently attracted hundreds of business and community leaders, as well as food aficionados from all across the region. 

 

“What better universal language than food,” said Joanna Otero-Cruz, president & executive director of Women Against Abuse. “It crosses all cultures, bringing people together.” 

On Wednesday, May 18, as has been done over the past 14 years, hundreds of leaders, Women Against Abuse staff, supporters, and foodies were brought together to celebrate the annual event, with the mission of ending domestic violence. 

Joanna Otero-Cruz is the president & executive director of Women Against Abuse. Photo: Emily Leopard-Davis/AL DÍA News.
Joanna Otero-Cruz is the president & executive director of Women Against Abuse. Photo: Emily Leopard-Davis/AL DÍA News.

Given the residual effects domestic violence often has on individuals and families, each year during the event, the organization names an Advocate of the Year, given out to someone who is a part of the very critical fight.

The 2022 Advocates of the Year were Troy and Tommi Vincent. Troy Vincent is an NFL Pro Football Hall of Famer, Philadelphia Eagles Hall of Fame inductee and executive vice president of football operations for the NFL. Tommi Vincent is host of the Stay A While podcast and Stay A While cooking show. 

“Two people who embody the spirit of Women Against Abuse’s mission to lead this struggle to end domestic violence,” said Belén Smole, Telemundo62 anchor and emcee of the event. “This evening’s honorees approach the work they do from a place of reflection and gratitude, having both been affected by domestic violence.”

Otero-Cruz added, “They have made it their mission, their life’s mission, to end domestic violence.”

Tommi and Troy Vincent are Women Against Abuse's 2022 Advocates of the Year. Photo: Emily Leopard-Davis/AL DÍA News.
Tommi and Troy Vincent are Women Against Abuse's 2022 Advocates of the Year. Photo: Emily Leopard-Davis/AL DÍA News. 

As Tommi Vincent accepted her award, she set out a call to action, stressing the importance of resources in getting organizations like Women Against Abuse to really make a tangible impact.

“While we find joy in doing the work together, we don’t find joy in the fact that we have to keep having this conversation,” she said.

She then sent out a call to action for everyone to make a donation, and “get some skin in the game,” in order for Women Against Abuse to continue making an impact, “because this work does not get done without resources,” she added. 

Troy Vincent noted that he has been a part of this fight his entire adult life, since the age of 16.

“I made a commitment to my mother, I made a commitment to my wife, to my savior Jesus Christ… I’m committed to this work daily,” he said. 

Each of their stories are unique, but are interconnected in becoming the basis of their journey toward becoming the valued advocates they are.

For Tommi, who experienced domestic violence all throughout high school, her unfortunate traumatic experiences developed into a point of reflection, and later gratitude.

“I’m so grateful that I made it through that experience, and I’m also here today to share my story and turn up the volume on domestic violence,” she said. 

In Troy’s case, his first brush with domestic violence began at a much younger age, around six or seven years old. 

It was at that age that he heard the devastating sounds of his mother screaming in pain, or hitting furniture or the floor in the other room. After experiencing those traumatic sounds for about a decade, he made the commitment to confront the abuser, and fight for the other women and children who are in this situation.

The Vincents have since begun taking this journey and making this effort together. 

“We are committed to making sure that we are not normalizing the behavior, but we will normalize the conversation because the more we talk about it, the more that people have the courage to stand up and get the resources that they need,” said Tommi.

“As a survivor myself, something that I would want other victims, survivors of domestic violence to know is it's not their fault; that they did absolutely nothing to deserve the abuse. But the love is not broken. And that real love does not hurt intentionally. And at any given moment, they are just one step away from walking out of this situation,” she continued. 

After the speeches, Leslie Greenspan, chair of the board for Women Against Abuse; and Dr. Argie Allen-Wilson, a board member for the organization; encouraged attendees to continue donating, with a goal of reaching $30,000. 

The 2022 Dish It Up event ended with the announcement of the winners of the chef competition, which was presented by Joe Tucker of Tucker Law Group; Rafael Toro of Goya Foods, Inc.

The Purple Dessert Award went to New York chef Justine MacNeil of Fiore, a modern Italian-cafe restaurant located in Queen Village. 

She won with her mixed berry gelato pops, topped with toasted hazelnuts and white chocolate. 

Georgeann Leaming of FoodieHall was named the honorable mention of the Purple Dish competitors. 

The Purple Dish Award winner was Julie Kline of La Colombe, who advanced her culinary craft at some of Philadelphia’s top bars and gastropubs, before switching gears to leading the coffee company’s Fishtown café. 

La Colombe was presented with the Purple Dish Award during the 2022 Dish It Up event. Photo: Emily Leopard-Davis/AL DÍA News.
La Colombe was presented with the Purple Dish Award during the 2022 Dish It Up event. Photo: Emily Leopard-Davis/AL DÍA News.

She won with a spicy carrot dish that was very popular with vegan customers. 

The winners will receive a one-on-one mentoring consultation session with Tommi Vincent, who among her various endeavors and accomplishments, is also an in-demand celebrity chef.

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