By: Julie Kinner, Director of Recipient Relations & Community Affairs
We have four seasons here at Table to Table. Summer, Fall, Winter and Events Season. I can’t remember the last time I looked at a tulip without thinking about how we could use it in a centerpiece. This is my 20th events season with Table to Table (including 2 years with Share Our Strength). 20 years of amazing honorees, pig centerpieces, incredibly generous restaurants, delicious food and wine, giving volunteers, beautiful auction items and tear jerking speeches from Claire.
So many wonderful memories from so many events. Like when Anthony Bourdain read from his brand new book, Kitchen Confidential, about servers recycling the bread basket and all at once our guests pushed away the beautiful bread baskets donated by Balthazar. Or when Sara Molton looked around at all of our incredible restaurants during the Food & Wine Spectacular hosted by Napa Valley Grille in the Garden State Plaza and said, “There’s some great food here in NJ. I’m going to have to come over the bridge more often!” When Lidia Bastianich was our honoree, the men could not get enough of her. Every man in the room wanted their picture taken with her. She was gracious and much loved and each person had a story to tell her while their pictures were being taken. André Soltner loved listening to one of our supporters tell him that she ate at his restaurant, Lutèce, every night in the 70’s. The dishwashers used to smuggle dinner out the back door for her and a friend. The chef laughed and laughed.
The best part of any event, is when the unexpected happens. David Rosengarten once offered to join the winners of a dinner in Providence as an added bonus to the live auction. Mr. Modell jumped to the podium one night, to auction off his own seats to a Yankee game. Michael Chiarello donated wine from his own vineyard to an auction, our own David Burke added a dinner for 10 guests up on the roof of his restaurant and the Channel 7 Morning Crew auctioned off personal tours of ABC. The Nieporents’ are always surprising us with a dinner at Nobu and Bâtard which go quickly on the auction block. The most amazing unexpected auction item was the time Emeril Lagasse was our honoree. As the live auction came to a close, he took the microphone and announced that he had something to offer. He would come to the winner’s house to cook…then David Burke joined him…then Peter Kelly. Before the night ended Chefs Lagasse, Burke and Kelly were cooking in the home of one of our lucky and generous supporters, and it was our biggest night ever!
So here we are again. Event Season. Restauranteur Charlie Palmer is our honoree at the Chefs Gala and Comedian Mike Marino will be joining us at the Gala d’Italia, our tasting event. Invitations are being printed, volunteers are ready to stuff and stamp, auction items are being delivered to the office, swag bag items are being donated, chefs are sending in their recipes for the cookbook, centerpieces are being decided on and speeches are being written. The buzz in the office will quickly be moving to Edgewood Country Club and Montammy Golf Club. Twenty years is a long time, but I still look forward to this season and all the excitement that surrounds it, year after year. It’s our Spring!