Celebrity Chef Dinner hits 25 years Don’t miss it

“You are cordially invited to the first annual Celebrity Chef Dinner sponsored by The Soroptimist Club of Fulton County.” Celebrating the talents of local chefs, there will be over a dozen stations of delicious, appetizing food. You can support the Soroptimist Club’s many scholarships and charitable endeavors while enjoying culinary delights prepared by our very own near-by restaurants.

That was April 1992. Today is April 2017 — 25 years later! This unique event is the longest running and most successful fundraiser in the community. At the time, I was teaching the restaurant management program at Fulton Montgomery Community College.  

With Bob Dixson of the Holiday Inn, I was able to network with area restaurants and chefs. Together we started the North Country Chef’s Association, a group dedicated to the shared interest of providing excellence food and service.

I remember some of that fledgling group of cooks and chefs: Jim Rose, Russ Dettenrieder, Jim Hannas, Barry Hampton, Ed Sturgess, Rosemarie Lesser, Shirley Anadio.

We gathered.

We learned from each other.

My students networked and the association became a conduit for chef certification through the American Culinary Federation. A talented group , it needed the world to know.

The idea of this dinner came about when the chefs realized that local organizations were taking their food events out of town when there was much culinary talent and ability right here in Fulton and Montgomery counties. Clearly this talent needed to be showcased. 

About this time, I was also enjoying my new membership in the Soroptimist Club of Fulton County, thanks to Elaine Pickard who had asked me to join.

At the time, the club held its monthly meeting at the White Holland House on Route 29. It was owned, managed and successfully run by friend and fellow Soroptimist member, Shelly Coons. I’m not sure how it happened or what we were talking about but Elaine and Shel came up with the idea of a Celebrity Chef Dinner as a fundraiser for Soroptimist Scholarships.

It was a perfect idea. Perfect. Just what the chefs and restaurants needed: a way to showcase their talents. Perfect.

Real life practice for my students. Perfect.

Just what the club was looking for: a great fundraiser. Perfect.

Just what the community needed: an upscale event to rival anything in “Saratoga”.

The first Celebrity Chef Dinner was an overwhelming success. Shelly generously donated the use of her restaurant and staff for the evening. The event drew more than 200 guests. We had to turn people away. Oh Busboy, this was restaurant revelry at its best.

Participating at that first event was : The Antlers, C& R Restaurant, Capellos, the Holiday Inn, Isabel’s, Kingsburg Golf course, Lakeside Lodge, Maple Tree Knoll, North Country Chefs Association , The Railyard, Rockwood Tavern, Royal Mountain Inn, Top Notch Tavern, The Unger House, Michaels’ and Union Hall Inn.

That was April 1992.

What an event!

This is 2017.

Sure there have been changes, we are a growing/changing community. The food service program at the college is no more. The White Holland House is, sadly, no more. Fortunately the Holiday Inn was able to accommodate us, generously giving their time, staff and space. 

The restaurants have rotated and changed over the years. The chef dinner has enjoyed the company of Wally’s, The Gathering Place, Royal Mountain Inn, Armory Grill, the Eccentric Club and The Perthshire, Antoinette’s Catering, Timeless Tavern, Forever Young’s and more.

The core group remains. The Holiday Inn, Cock and Bull and Union Hall have been at most of the Celebrity Chef Dinners. Lanzis on the Lake only missed the first event because they hadn’t opened yet. We have added to this core group with fine restaurants: American Hotel, EMVI Chocolates, Hales Mills Country Club, Inn at the Bridge/Chick ‘n Hen, Mohawk Harvest Co-Op, Nicolino’s, Raindancer, Sam’s Seafood, Sugar Pearl, Top Notch , Top Notch , Tavern/Shorty’s Southside, Vintage Cafe and Wine and Roses. 

To that line up, all I think to say is “YUM”. And today you can be part of that success at the 25th dinner.

This year, the event will be held on Monday, April 10 at the Holiday Inn, Johnstown. The theme is Silver and Satin — Celebrating 25. This premier event will feature the top chefs and restaurants in the area displaying their culinary talents with 17 chef stations for our guests to “stroll and taste”.

There will be a silent auction featuring two delectable dinners for eight, hosted by Wally Hart, Bill Crankshaw, Dusty Swanger and Evan Ladd, respectively. There will also be a Bubbles & Brushes party (paint and sip) for 10 and art work by talented local artists, all to be auctioned.

Music will be provided by the Sophisticats.

The cost is $60 per person and the event run from 6 to 9 p.m.

For reservations, send check and RSVP to the Celebrity Chef Committee, P.O. Box 168, Gloversville, NY 12078

Oh Busboy, today the Chamber of Commerce calendar is chuck full of events — dinners, dances, theaters, art — all with fabulous food and service from local talent! If you would like to try see you on April 10.


Comments or questions? Email Anita at anita@anitaalacatte.com