Delaware chef and hospitality guru Matt Haley was thrilled and humbled to learn he was named the 2014 James Beard Foundation Humanitarian of the Year, an honor also bestowed on Emeril Lagasse and Charlie Trotter. Imagine his excitement then to learn in late February that he would receive two other prestigious humanitarian awards.
The National Restaurant Association recently announced that Haley is the recipient of the 2014 Cornerstone Humanitarian Award, given to an individual for his or her personal commitment to community service. In addition, the International Association of Culinary Professionals announced that the organization had selected Haley for its National Humanitarian Award.
“It’s an incredible honor - each of these organizations is so esteemed in the culinary world,” said Haley, who has seven restaurants along the Delaware coast, a catering company, and hospitality management and consulting companies. “Our team at the Matt Haley Companies is heavily involved with all our philanthropic efforts, and I am grateful for them and for the many volunteers, board members and donors who make things happen every day - all around the world - to improve the quality of people’s lives.”
Haley is the founder of the Global Delaware Fund, which has helped build schools in Nepal, purchased a van so pregnant teens can benefit from medical services, and supported numerous Delaware nonprofits. Since Haley founded the fund in 2011, it’s raised more than $250,000.
He also sits on the board of the Joshua M. Freeman Foundation, and he’s president of the board of La Esperanza. He’s currently working with Secretary of Agriculture Ed Kee to develop nutritional education initiatives and open urban markets and urban gardens in Delaware’s cities, and he’s participating in Gov. Jack Markell’s Early Learning Initiative.
In the resorts’ off-season, he rarely slows down. In November, he was no sooner home from the Himalayas, where he is heavily involved in helping Nepali children, then he traveled to Nicaragua to help raise funds for the Barrio Planta Project, an education initiative that serves low-income children and adults. Right after returning from Central America, he participated in the Covenant House Sleep Out to support homeless youth. On a cold night, he joined others to sleep on the streets of Washington, D.C. to raise money.
Haley is looking forward to the James Beard’s black tie celebration May 5 in New York City. The International Association of Culinary Professionals will present its award during its conference in Chicago, March 14-17, and the National Restaurant Association is holding its ceremony April 29.
Frequently the winner of Best Chef awards, Haley’s interests run the culinary gamut. Along with owning seven restaurants, he has Plate Catering. He also has a hospitality management firm, Highwater Management, and hospitality consulting business, Haley/Kammerer. In addition, he founded the Global Delaware Fund, a nonprofit that helps children and people in Delaware and across the world. Many of fund’s effort target hunger and sustainability. Haley is involved in Conti di San Bonifacio in Italy, which has a winery, an olive oil division and a hotel/restaurant.
For additional information go to www.matthaleycompanies.com.