Great Chefs Dinner served great food, and a good cause

March 16, 1997|By Sylvia Badger | Sylvia Badger,SUN STAFF

JUST WHEN YOU thought it couldn't get better, it did. That is what's being said about the sixth Great Chefs Dinner to benefit ** the Child Abuse Prevention Center of Maryland. About 200 guests arrived at Linwoods for an evening that began with a festive cocktail hour in a tent adjacent to the Owings Mills restaurant. The cocktail hour gave people a chance to bid on silent auction items and chat with friends before being seated throughout the restaurant, which is owned by Ellen and Linwood Dame, the evening's hosts.

This year's star attraction was chef Roberto Donna, who lived up to his reputation as one of the top 10 chefs in the country. He owns Galileo's in Washington, which recently received the coveted Insegua del Restorante Italiano award from the president of Italy. The award is given to only 20 Italian restaurants in the world, and Galileo's was one of the two American restaurants to receive the honor. Betsy Sherman, who co-chaired the annual dinner with Peggi Ambler, told me that all of the chefs who have participated in the Great Chefs Dinner over the years have been James Beard Foundation winners.

Chef Donna was joined in the kitchen by Francesco Ricchi, formerly of Ristorante i Ricchi, who learned his traditional Tuscan recipes from his grandmother in the hills of Cercina. Along with Linwood, they created quite a meal.

We began with asparagus salad with black truffle dressing and roasted onions. Next came artichoke tortelli with crispy artichoke in a tomato and olive oil sauce; filet of sea bass braised with sun-dried tomatoes; roasted rack of lamb Piedmontese style served with potato puree and a classical Piedmontese custard. And of course, there was lots of wine.

Among those enjoying this culinary happening were George Sherman, Danaher Corp.; Bruce Ambler, Constellation Holdings;

WBAL-TVs Donna Hamilton, who has agreed to be the community spokeswoman for the Child Abuse Prevention Center; Bob and Mary Ann Gray, she's director of Mid-Atlantic Venture Association and he's the national director of the Foundation Fighting Blindness; Nanny Warren, PR gal for Bibelot; Julia and Michael Keelty, she's with Deerfield Senior Services; Dort and Richard Mollett, owners of the inn in Taneytown called Antrim 1844; and Larry and Ellen Macks, who were excited about a four-day trip to Cuba they were taking with a group from the Associated Jewish Charities.

Other guests were Sherri Thompson, Legg Mason, and her husband, Hal Donofrio, Myers, Richardson & Donofrio; Tom and Nancy Stuehler, he's the owner of Truffles and La Fontaine Bleu Caterers; Louie Hoblitzell, a dinner committee member; Chris and Marilyn Poindexter, he's CEO of BGE; James and Fran Brady, he's Maryland's Secretary of Economic and Business Development; Gregory and Ziba Franks, he's head of Merrill Lynch; Bonnie and Ron Wilson, she's the nurse at Boys Latin School and he's with Ernst & Young; George and Georgia Stamas, both are attorneys; Chuck and Carol Dunlap, she's a former dinner chair; Terry Morgenthaler and her husband, Patrick Kerins, of Grotech; Bill and Sue Ann Crowley, he's a managing partner at Arthur Anderson; Leslie Hartley, who has her own interior design business; and Don and Pat Kirk, she's on the board of the Child Abuse Prevention Center and he's president of Windsor Electric. Don is the person who bought, fixed up and donated the Hanover Street building where the Child Abuse Center is located. The event netted more than $57,000 for child abuse prevention programs.

A knockout affair

Variety is the spice of life, especially on the fund-raising party circuit. Local party planners have gotten a lot more creative these days.

Upscale boxing was dished out at the Hyatt Regency Hotel to raise money for the Save-A-Heart Foundation, best known on the fund-raising circuit for its celebrity concerts and golf tourneys. This recent project attracted about 750 fans for cocktails, dinner and a silent auction before watching six professional boxing matches. Olympic Boxer Alex Stewart, Baltimore's own Chuck Sturn and kick-boxing champion Judy Mayrand were a few of the name boxers participating to help raise about $40,000.

If boxing wasn't your cup of tea, a country setting might have done the trick. Facets Inc., which provides services for at-risk children and families, put together a winning combination for its annual fund-raiser. The event combined Peerce Lake, owner of Peerce's Plantation, as the evening's host, Scott Garceau, WMAR-TV sports anchor, and his wife, Georgeanna, as honorary chairs, and one of Maryland's finest chefs, Josef Gohring, in the kitchen preparing a divine 10-course dinner. The evening was a winner.

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