Chefs and Fresh Flavors Come Together for a Cause

Hunger Relief Dinner and Auction April 26
Apr 19, 2017
Photo by: Jack Reynolds

Area chefs have the recipe for hunger relief in more ways than one. One is the tasty seven-course meal that will satisfy ticket-holders on April 26 to the Annual Hunger Relief Dinner & Auction, themed “The Chef, The Farmer, and The Fisherman.”

The other is the long-term meaning of “hunger relief” – the fact that the dinner/auction raises donations for food banks in Southern Ocean County. This 22nd annual event may bring total donations to the $1 million mark.

A live and a silent auction are part of the package, and exciting gifts are lined up in categories including travel, entertainment, wellness and more.

Even in a relatively affluent region, hunger is an “invisible epidemic,” says the Hunger Foundation of Southern Ocean, the nonprofit, all-volunteer organization that hosts the dinner.

The need for hunger relief is shown by the ‘thank you” letters from the food pantries to the foundation. Consider this one from Ken’s Kitchen at St. Mary of the Pines in Manahawkin: “It serves over 600 hot meals every Thursday to those who cannot always afford to buy or prepare a nutritious meal” and “is funded strictly by donations. It is thanks to the generosity you have shown that enables this program to keep providing meals to the many people who depend on this invaluable service.”

Also grateful was the St. Francis Parish and Center, whose Human Concerns Food Pantry serves area-wide. A thank-you letter after the 2016 donation stated, “The demand on the Food Pantry has grown over the past several years due to the cuts to the food stamp program. In the year 2015 we provided food and personal hygiene items to 7,388 adults and 3,932 children. Without the help of our community, we would not be able to meet this increased demand.”

All proceeds from the dinner/auction will be donated to seven food pantries in Southern Ocean County: Barnegat Food Pantry, Barnegat; Greater Tuckerton Food Pantry, Tuckerton; Ken’s Kitchen at St. Mary’s Parish; Ocean Community Church Food Ministry, Manahawkin; St. Francis Center Food Pantry, Brant Beach; St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church Food Pantry, Waretown; Lacey Food Bank Program, Forked River.

Tickets for the dinner/auction are $150 per person.

To reserve a spot, call 609-789-5570 or go to the website at

Culinary Expertise

And a Lively Auction

Fresh flavors and local chefs blend in the kitchen at Sea Oaks Country Club on April 26 for the dinner that starts at 5:30 p.m.

Participating restaurants include The Arlington, Cuisine on the Green, The Grapevine, La Spiaggia, Plantation, Sea Oaks Country Club, Spice Caterers and Viking Fresh Off the Hook.  

This year’s theme, “The Chef, The Farmer and The Fisherman” spotlights fresh, responsibly grown ingredients that are made available to talented area chefs.

Dinner chairperson, chef Ian Smith, said, “The overall theme is the direct connection by the chef to the farmer and the fisherman.”

The ingredients are so fresh that the chefs won’t know until the week of the event which of certain specialty items are available to work with.

“It’s going to require the chef to react, and it’s going to test the creativity and their utility to put out the plates so that it’s a unique experience,” said Smith, a culinary arts instructor at the Ocean County Vocational Technical School’s Culinary Arts Training Center, located at Cuisine on the Green at Atlantis Golf Club, Little Egg Harbor.

What’s new to announce this week is some of auction items. A live auction features a Reynolds’ landscaping package; a personalized, private dinner party for up to 10 couples; and tickets to the U2 Joshua Tree Tour 2017 at Lincoln Financial Field on June 18.

A silent auction gives patrons a chance to bid on several travel experiences, such as a Kennedy Space Center Astronaut Adventure and Napa Valley Backroads and Railways.

In addition to the silent auction, new this year is a gift raffle (formerly known as a Chinese auction). Categories for both the silent auction and gift raffle include electronics, artwork and unique crafts, entertainment and leisure, dining and beverage, and health and wellness.

“This is the foundation's largest fundraiser of the year and we are hopeful that during the course of the event we will pass the $1 million mark in the amount of funds raised since the dinner began in 1995,” said Christopher J. Schwab, vice president of The Hunger Foundation board.

“We ask that businesses and residents in the community purchase tickets for the event, make a donation or be a sponsor for the event,” invited Schwab. For more information, go to

Maria Scandale 





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