Roman Marketplace/Dinner Theme a Successful Sell-Out for Hunger Relief Fundraiser

May 09, 2018
Courtesy of: The Hunger Foundation of Southern Ocean

“When in Rome ... A Feast of Italian Flavors” raised approximately $100,000 for food banks in Southern Ocean County. The estimated net proceeds from the April 25 themed gourmet dinner and auction have been announced by The Hunger Foundation of Southern Ocean, presenter of the event.

The amount raised by the 23rd annual dinner/auction adds to the previous $1,045,000 donated to food banks since 1995.

The Mainland at the Holiday Inn in Manahawkin provided the backdrop for a festive, interactive Italian “marketplace” where guests could sample delicacies before sitting down to a served Roman feast created by area restaurant chefs.

Hunger Foundation Board President Dan Taylor of the G. Anderson Agency said the sold-out evening drew 250 guests, a number that was made possible by the spacious venue.

“It was very nice; The Mainland did a good job of helping us present the fundraiser,” he said. “We were glad to bring it back to Manahawkin, because it originated in Manahawkin.

“It looks like we are going to net $100,000 because we had some good sponsorships,” Taylor said. “Expenses were covered by the partnerships, so the money the attendees spent for dinner and auction items and donations that night will go to hunger relief.” Attendees paid $150 per ticket.

Some of the best chefs from the region contributed to the memorable cuisine. Every year, Event Chairman Ian Smith organizes chefs from area restaurants to donate their talents in presenting a stellar multi-course menu. Smith is 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.

Smith said in retrospect of this year’s dinner accomplishment, “we expanded the number of people who attended the dinner, so it was a success in that we were able to raise the bar and also have a very successful outcome for our food pantries.”

Guests told Smith they enjoyed the evocative atmosphere. This year’s dinner, instead of having eight or more courses, was a five-course affair held after a cocktail time and a pre-dinner tour of stations where specialties were prepared in front of their eyes.

“The Italian market/food square was a lot of fun and very well received, I think,” he said. “It allowed us to also then spotlight the dinner by reducing the number of courses – it put more of a spotlight on the plated dinner as well.

“We still had as much food, but were able to present it in, I think, a guest-friendlier way. Guests were able to socialize and move around for a longer period of time than when we sat down for dinner. Dinner was a shorter period of time and, I think, more special. The music added to it.”

Taylor added, “It was a good night, everybody had a good time, and the Reynoldses (of Reynolds Landscaping, Garden Shop and Garden Center) decorated the heck out of the place.”

The Hunger Foundation of Southern Ocean already has the theme for next year’s dinner. “It’s ‘When at the Derby,’” revealed Taylor.

“It’s going to be a few days before the Kentucky Derby,” Smith continued, “so we’re going to try to incorporate all the elegance and regional cuisine that you can partake in at Churchill Downs.”

See the website for more information about the organization.

— Maria Scandale

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