Cover Story

Mama’s Day: Eva Matthews CEO of Mama’s Kitchen

By JP Emerson

Mark your calendars–Mama’s Kitchen is hosting its annual Mama’s Day fundraiser, a culinary event featuring some of San Diego’s best chefs, restaurants, catering companies, hotels, and more, at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront on Friday, May 3, starting at 5:30 p.m.

The event features unlimited tasting from the participating culinary partners. Attendees will also be treated to live entertainment from local artists and musicians, pop-up booths from retailers, a silent auction, and a photo booth to commemorate the evening. All proceeds from the event are funneled directly to the non-profit’s delivery services, allowing for even more critically ill San Diegans to receive free medically tailored meal deliveries.

We had the pleasure of sitting down with Eva Matthews the new CEO of Mama’s Kitchen to talk about new position and Mama’s Day and the importance of Mama’s Kitchen work in the community.

Please tell us about yourself and what you most look forward to as the new Chief Executive Officer of Mamas Kitchen?

The role of CEO at Mama’s Kitchen is a dream come true for me. Prior to joining the organization in January, I worked in resource development and research leadership within a large local community clinic system in San Diego. It was there that I first learned about the impact of Mama’s Kitchen in the lives of San Diegans living with HIV who were being served by the clinics, and it was not long after that I understood of the full breadth of the organization’s vision of a community where all individuals with critical illnesses are no longer vulnerable to malnutrition. This resonated with me deeply. The desire to nourish and care for family, friends and neighbors is both very personal to me, and a sentiment that I think binds our community of supporters together. 

I spent much of my early career engaged in community-based and public health research, always feeling a pull towards the roles and projects with real world implications and potential for community impact. 

I am most looking forward to supporting our incredible team as we strive to better understand and meet the community need for Mama’s Kitchen’s services. We are all grounded in our mission, and it shows in the dedication and creativity of the staff and volunteers who commit so much of themselves to what we do. 

At the national level, there is growing recognition that high-quality, medically tailored meals and nutrition education play a vital role in the health and well-being of those facing critical illness. It’s a truly exciting time to be doing this work! My predecessor, Alberto Cortes, positioned Mama’s Kitchen to play a significant role in the direction of this field. I intend to honor both his legacy and our organization’s history as we build upon them moving forward. 

Tell us about Mama’s Day?

Mama’s Day is not only San Diego’s original “tasting event,” it is an event that, for 33 years, has allowed San Diegans to enjoy the best of San Diego cuisine, while directly funding healthy meals for critically ill San Diegans in need. Every year, Mama’s Day brings together San Diego chefs, restaurants, caterers and culinary experts to showcase their talents through delectable tastings. This year we’re bringing in new live music entertainment, a surprise presentation for our VIP guests, a new Culinary Host who is well known and loved in San Diego, and other surprises throughout the event. Guests can bid on a bounty of silent auction items and can also participate in a wine pull to test their luck on a nice bottle of wine. MAC Cosmetics will have a booth where guests can get their makeup touched up alongside a photobooth to capture memorable moments.  

What can folks attending look forward to?

We are very excited about Mama’s Day! This year, we are expecting over 400 guests to join us at our new location – the beautiful Hilton San Diego Bayfront with gorgeous sunset views across the bay.  We have commitment and partnership of food and beverage purveyors from across San Diego. Some of our culinarians have supported Mama’s Kitchen for years, and we’ll see some fresh new faces that we’re excited to welcome to Mama’s Day. A few to name include The Plot, Provisional Kitchen, Sally’s Fish House, Piatti and Smokin J’s BBQ. You can also enjoy alcoholic and non-alcoholic tasters from Babe Kombucha, Pali Wine Co and R&B Tea.

What is the importance of organizations like Mama’s Kitchen?

From our earliest days, Mama’s Kitchen has worked to meet the needs of underserved and marginalized populations across San Diego County. The organization was established in 1990 by a San Diego caregiver and a group of volunteers concerned about the impact of the AIDS epidemic on vulnerable members of their community. At that time, community members living with AIDS were often denied services due to the stigma of their condition. In the years since our founding, Mama’s Kitchen has expanded to provide our Medically Tailored Meals to individuals managing cancer, heart disease, chronic kidney disease, and diabetes – in addition to HIV/AIDS. 

Today, we continue to serve populations who fall through the cracks of other social service programs because they may be home-bound; they may face physical or cognitive barriers to preparing their own meals, or they need very specific and tailored nutrition to improve their fragile health. Individuals battling a critical illness, especially seniors, often lack the resources or capacity needed to access services. Mama’s Kitchen works to eliminate barriers to nutrition and provide the services our clients need to achieve their best possible health outcomes.

How can people get involved with Mama’s Kitchen? How can people get involved with Mama’s Day?

There are many ways to support Mama’s Kitchen, and I’m certain that there is a wonderful fit for each of your readers who may be interested. One way to support is through becoming a volunteer. Our volunteers are at the heart of our operation and there are countless ways to share time and talents! As the need for our services increases, our need for volunteer drivers follows, so that is always an area of high priority. I invite your readers to learn more by visiting

We could not do what we do without our donors as well. Supporters can visit to make a one-time or recurring donation; or to learn more about how to make a lasting gift through estate planning and legacy giving. 

 Of course, we also welcome all to Mama’s Kitchen’s events! For those who would like to support Mama’s Day, we are always interested in developing new relationships with our area restaurants, caterers, and chefs – so that they may share their talents with our guests. Given the work done by Mama’s Kitchen in providing delicious and nutritious meals to San Diegans, we look for the support of those whose passion aligns with our mission, and who better to partner with than the experts of the food industry in doing so! San Diego is home to some of the most wonderful experiences and unique retailers, and we love to highlight our local businesses through inclusion of their offerings in our silent auction. We welcome donations of gift cards and experience tickets, which both support the auction, and expose businesses to a broad audience of potential new customers. Lastly, buy tickets to the event! Come learn about Mama’s Kitchen and enjoy a fun-filled evening while doing so!