About


Salt City DISHES (Dine In. Support Happenings. Enliven Syracuse!)

DISHES is an annual event that brings together the Syracuse community to share a delicious locally-sourced meal, listen to one another's suggestions for community-based innovative projects, and vote on the idea that has the most potential. A micro-grant of $2,000 and a second $500 prize, is then awarded to the audience favorite. The winning team returns to the next DISHES to present their newly-realized projects.

The DISHES concept was conceived by Rachel Somerstein, after she was inspired by a similar dinner she had attended in Brooklyn, NY, called F.E.A.S.T.  A team of three, including Briana Kohlbrenner and Stasya Erickson, was formed in October 2010 and thus Salt City DISHES was born!  Full of magic and celebration, the first DISHES dinner debuted on January 23, 2011.  The event was an instant success with a sold-out crowd of 175 attendees and 9 exciting presentations.  Since then, Rachel and Briana have stepped down from their roles and a new foursome leads the effort: Stasya Erickson, Sarah Pallo, Annalena Davis and Jeremy DeChario. 

DISHES has funded eleven projects to date, and all dinners have had max attendance. Each fall, ideas are solicited through a Request for Proposals and dinners are held each winter. 



Past recipients of the DISHES micro-grant include:

  • Syracuse Plays Chess, funded in February 2016, is a series of free, public chess events where people of all ages will learn to play chess, and make new friends all over the Greater Syracuse area;
  • Paint the Town, the second prize winner funded in February 2016, is a project to make an eye-catching mural across the center of a neighborhood intersection to get drivers to navigate the crossing with caution;
  • Second Line Syracuse, funded in February 2015, is a New Orleans style brass brand with a Central New York flare that energizes the streets with live music and brings neighbors together with spontaneous celebration;
  • Cooperative Federal Student Cash Stash Pilot, the second prize winner funded in February 2015, is a new financial capability program at three Syracuse high schools, where students use a smart phone app to connect with mentors and create/reach savings goals;
  • The Forget-Me-Nots Chorus, funded in February 2014, provided persons with dementia the unique opportunity to practice music and perform in front of an audience;
  • Westside Walks, the second prize winner funded in February 2014, created a volunteer snow shoveling brigade to shovel sidewalks in the Westside that needed the most attention;
  • Cooperative Permaculture Garden, funded in May 2013, is working to plant a garden at Nottingham High School that provides a hands-on opportunity for students to learn about healthy eating, the sciences, and how to work together to produce food for families in need;
  • Food Forrest Gardening for Culture and Health, funded through our 2012 Summer "On the Road", created an edible forest garden on the city's south side;
  • Salt City Slam, funded in February 2012, held a monthly poetry slam series held at ArtRage Gallery that brought together amateur and professional spoken word artists; 
  • Bikes 4 Peace, funded in May 2011, sponsored six free bike clinics that taught kids how to fix their own bikes; and
  • SUBPAR "Syracuse Urban Beautification Public Art Resistance", funded in January 2011, crafted and installed site-specific screen-printed ceramic tiles on derelict buildings.

Follow this link to find more information about past presentations.


DISHES continues to be successful because of the many generous donations received from the community.  Food, drinks, graphic design services, photography, and videography are donated (or sold at-cost) by local farms and businesses.  The people who make DISHES possible - our chefs, organizers, the people who take your tickets at the door - are volunteers.  Please visit ouSponsor Thank You for a full list of past and current sponsors.

If you are interested in donating a service or your time, get in touch with us! 


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