Why You Should Dine Out for Life: Alayna Sands

ActionAIDS Dining Out for Life ambassadors open up about how HIV/AIDS has affected their lives, and why you should dine out for life on April 24th. Today: Alayna Sands. 

Screen Shot 2014-04-20 at 4.51.26 PMMy name is … Alayna Sands

What’s your Philly connection?
I grew up in Tucson, Ariz.; however both my parents are from Philadelphia. I moved to Philly about seven years ago, after attending school in Pittsburgh, and it has been home ever since.

What do you do for work?
I work in Human Resources.

The biggest thing I have learned from my experience with HIV/AIDS is …
It has motivated me to be compassionate. You may have HIV/AIDS and consequently endure some additional struggles. Yet you can still choose to live your life with dignity — and there are supportive communities out there who will help you.

Any Dining Out for Life restaurant recommendations?
The Gold Standard. They have good food and a great staff that will take care of you. There’s also Garces Trading Company. I love everything about that place.

In three words, describe the perfect dining out experience …
Family, friends, food!

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Why You Should Dine Out for Life: Ja Mai

Our annual series, “Dine Out for My Life,” features a different local who has been affected by HIV/AIDS every day between now and Dining Out for Life (DOFL), on April 24th.

JaMy name is … Ja Mai

What’s your Philly connection?
I am originally from Burma. I am from an ethnic group called Kachin. Philly area has a sizable community of Burmese ethnic minorities who came here mainly as refugees. I came here for college about 10 years ago. I have been living here ever since. I love this area. We have some wonderful people and places here.

What do you do for work?
I am a therapist working with children and their families.

How has HIV/AIDS affected your life?
Through my previous job as a medical case manager and volunteering in my community, I have come across many people from different backgrounds who are affected by it. Some of them are my own friends.

The biggest thing I have learned from my experience with HIV/AIDS is …
Instead of putting our efforts on questioning why one might be affected by HIV, we should put our efforts on how we can fight against it. Misinformation or lack of information continues to be a problem in our community. Discrimination for those living with HIV/AIDS continues to exist in our community. We should put our energy on learning accurate information about the virus, and how we can support each other in our fight against it. The HIV virus doesn’t discriminate anybody. Why should we?

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Why You Should Dine Out for Life: Garrod McFadden

Mr. Garrod McFadden is helping kick off our annual series, “Dine Out for My Life,” which features a different local who has been affected by HIV/AIDS every day between now and Dining Out for Life (DOFL), on April 24th.

GarrodMy name is … Garrod McFadden

What’s your Philly connection?
I have lived here for seven years. I grew up in Rochester N.Y., went to undergrad at SUNY Cortland in Cortland N.Y., and decided that Philadelphia was the place I wanted to pursue my Masters in social work, and continue a prominent career in this field

What do you do for work? 
I work at Hahnemann University Hospital as a social worker primarily providing essential discharging planning services for critical intensive cardiac patients, and post-surgical cardiac patients.

How has HIV/AIDS affected your life?
In a positive way. I graduated from SUNY and started working with HIV+ infants and children under the age 10 years old as a child case manager in Rochester N.Y. for over 10 years ago. Seeing the progress and delight on the faces of the parents and children over the positive change in their lives overtime propelled me to move forward in becoming a community advocate. Because of this experience, I am still a community advocate and have worked for HIV/AIDS organizations such as ActionAIDS in the past.

The biggest thing I have learned from my experience with HIV/AIDS is …
How impactful one’s life is with living with this disease. I have learned that it is so important to teach acceptance, because HIV+ people are human beings, too, and the impact of this disease on “everyone’s” lives is no different from any other disease.

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Here’s to the Ladies Who Brunch:
4 Best Bets for a Fabulous Brunch
in the Gayborhood

Chester County Baker to Compete on Food Network Reality Show


Food Network’s new reality show, America’s Best Cookwill feature Devon’s Christina Verrelli competing  for the title of America’s Best Cook. Verrelli won the 45th Pillsbury Bake-Off’s million-dollar prize in 2012 for her Pumpkin Ravioli with Salted Caramel Whipped Cream (um, yum), and, funny side note, she recently judged a friendly inner-office bake-off we had here at Philly Mag.

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Pat Toomey Leads Fight Against Euro Cheese Claims

YourErie.com reports: 

U.S. Senators Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) are working together to protect American dairy farmers and producers from an absurd European initiative that would change common names for cheeses Americans enjoy every day.

In a bipartisan letter signed by more than 50 of their Senate colleagues, Sens. Toomey and Schumer urged the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the United States Trade Representative (USTR) to fight European Union (EU) efforts to prohibit American dairy producers from using dozens of common cheese names. The EU claims that dairy products baring names such as asiago, feta, parmesan, and muenster are “geographical indicators” and can only be appropriately displayed on products made in certain areas of Europe.

If the United States were to be subjected to a ban of these traditional brand names for various cheeses consumers may be confused and American dairy farmers could suffer.

“Can you imagine going into a grocery store and cheddar and provolone are called something else?” said Sen. Toomey. “Generations of dairy farmers and producers have worked hard to cultivate a product and brand that resonates with consumers. Efforts by the EU to establish trade guidelines which would restrict branding are ridiculous and threaten Pennsylvania jobs. I urge the USDA and the USTR to fight back against any attempt by the EU to restrict the use of these familiar brand names.”

French fries, though, we’ll happily re-name.

Where Should I Eat In Philly If…


The writers behind Philadelphia magazine’s food section come together to answer questions about where to eat in Philadelphia. Here are the secrets to pleasing dining companions of all flavors, from Art Etchells, founder, foobooz.com, Jason Sheehan, food editor, Trey Popp, Restaurant critic, and Victor Fiorillo, food writer.

Where should we go if we have guests from New York?

Art Etchells > Zahav. This is the restaurant Michael Solomonov was born to run, and it hasn’t fallen off by a single notch over the years. Skip the tasting menus and just start ordering à la carte—hummus foul, fried cauliflower that’s better than any other cauliflower served anywhere, watermelon salad with smoked honey, grilled duck hearts, duck kebabs with pickled blueberries. New York might have just about everything under the sun, but it doesn’t have Michael Solomonov or his signature restaurant.
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All Your Philadelphia Restaurant Questions Answered

“So what’s the best restaurant in Philadelphia?” As food writers, food editors and restaurant critics, that’s the question we get asked most often. Here, the writers behind Philadelphia magazine’s food section have come together to answer all the other questions people ask. Read their answers about where to take guests in the most specific situations, and find out what chefs think about the Philly food scene. But it all starts with…

What’s Your Favorite Philadelphia Restaurant Right Now?

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The Day We Ate Arnold the Pig


Photo | Shutterstock.com

It’s not every day that a family of Jews hosts a pig roast, but that is exactly what my sister did at her suburban Washington home Sunday.

Not just any pig roast, mind you, but a whole pig roast, complete with Porky’s head, ears, snout, mouth and teeth. All festively festooned with a red ribbon. It was the centerpiece of the feast, which I had dubbed  pigapalooza. Read more »

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