Good ‘Taste’ Raises Big Money for Hunger Relief

Annual Dinner/Auction of Hunger Foundation of Southern Ocean
May 03, 2017
Photo by: Jack Reynolds

Cause for cowbells erupted during the 22nd annual Hunger Relief Dinner and Auction April 26 – the $1 million mark in donations was reached. The money raised for food pantries in Southern Ocean County so families and neighbors do not have to go hungry was a milestone for the Hunger Foundation of Southern Ocean.

Patrons of the annual gourmet meal cooked by some of the best area chefs were enjoying the seven-course dinner whose theme this year was “The Chef, The Farmer and The Fisherman.” The cowbells came in because it was expected the milestone could occur that night at the event held at Sea Oaks Country Club. Going into the night, the total donated over the years as of 2016 was $900,000, so a cowbell waited at every place setting.

A thermometer projected on a screen inched its red way upward as folks donated to the cause via their cell phones. Several forms of auctions were vehicles of fundraising in addition to the $150 ticket price of the dinner.

Traditionally, the exact amount of money raised is not announced until later, after all is counted and a presentation is made to the food banks at a public meeting. But those who attended considered the $1 million mark to be cause for celebration right then.

“The Chef, The Farmer and The Fisherman” presented fresh fare ranging from golden tile fish with carrot slaw from the sea, to grilled wild boar St. Louis rib, to a sweet finish of Pine Barrens honey and lavender scented crème brûlée.

Participating restaurants and chefs were: The Arlington (Brian Sabarese), Buckalew’s Restaurant &Tavern (Allen Mengus), Cuisine on the Green (Ian Smith and Jason Crispin), The Grapevine (Sal Manfre and Joel Pistone), La Spiaggia (Dan Stragapede and Geoff Johnson), The Plantation Restaurant (Jeff Alberti), Ocean County Vocational Technical School Culinary Arts program (Jill Scott and Garry Lesniak), Sea Oaks Country Club (Mike Creevy and Paul Dimm), Spice Catering (David Schmid), and Viking Fresh Off the Hook (John Grifo.)

The dinner chaiman was Ian 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 in Little Egg Harbor.

All proceeds from the dinner/auction will be donated to seven food pantries: 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; and The Lacey Food Bank, Forked River.

“The dinner was sold out and a great success,” remarked Dan Taylor, president of HFOSO Board of Trustees, after the event. “Those in attendance, the chefs, volunteers and donors help us raise funds that will go to the food pantries that we support, helping those in our community in need of food assistance. We humbly and most sincerely thank them.”

For more information on the hunger foundation, visit the website,

“We have several events during the year to raise funds for our vision: a community where all of our neighbors are free from hunger,” Taylor said.

— Maria Scandale

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