Summertime fun at 'Crabaret'



August 13, 2006|By SLOANE BROWN

THE BALTIMORE MUSEUM of Art's Sculpture Garden was draped in typical summer humidity. And the zydeco band playing in one corner only added to the sweat factor.

Not that it mattered to any of the guests there and inside Gertrude's at the BMA. They were enjoying themselves at the House of Ruth's fourth annual "Crabaret" party. A few were even on the dance floor.

"People are having fun. The music is so good," said John Yuhanick, who co-chaired the event with Vicki Deyesu.

Guests such as Ruth Ann Norton, Sharon Bass, Sheila Silverstein, Herb Fried, John Gilligan, Becky Swanston, Suzan Garabedian, Barbara and Ed Brody, Wil Sirota, Jim and Yasmin Dolan, Paul Winicki, Tom Wilcox, Donna Brown, Carey Deeley, Joyce Ann Berman, Louise Miller and House of Ruth executive director Carole Alexander lined up at food stations to taste chef / owner John Shields' crab creations, and sample wines especially paired with the food.

"You have your down-home station, with crab gumbo and fried chicken," Shields explained. "Then you have the classic crab cake station."

And if you wanted to up that aforementioned sweat factor?

"We have an Asian-themed station with a really good crab curry."


Now, he's banking on Baltimore

Augie Chiasera moved to Baltimore four years ago to be president of the Greater Baltimore region for M&T Bank. He grew up in Buffalo, N.Y., and is married to former prosecutor Melissa Chiasera. They have a 4-year-old daughter, Gabriella, and live in the Lutherville area. Augie Chiasera, 39, serves on local boards and is chairman of the American Heart Association Heart Walk.

You've been in Baltimore for four years now. What do you think?

It's a great place. We had lived in Boston and we were so pleasantly surprised when we came down here to find the similarities between the two cities. And that's a compliment. People are so friendly, approachable, hard working. There are strong family roots and strong communities here.

Does the humid summer weather make you yearn for the chill of Buffalo?

Yes. My wife and I can't believe how warm it gets here. I think we're the first people in the neighborhood to turn on our air conditioning. In April, I think. But the winters are fantastic here. What's amazing is the snow and ice melt here. In Buffalo, the snow starts around November, December, and doesn't leave until around April.

What are your favorite things to do here?

My wife and I are gardeners. Last year, we planted 10 to 12 tomato plants, and cucumbers, peppers and beans. And we were amazed at how big the vegetables grow down here. We try to go to the farmers' market every Sunday, under the JFX. My wife does a lot of canning. She'll can about 100 jars of tomatoes a year. Last year, she won second prize at the Maryland State Fair for strawberry jam.

Do you cook?

Yes. ... I'm half-Italian, half-Polish. So, you can imagine in those two cultures cooking and eating are pretty important. ... My wife and I will cook together. We do a lot of Italian cooking. We make ravioli. We make our own pasta.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

I'm sure they're shocked that I cook. I sang for nine years. I was in two operas in Buffalo, in the chorus. ... I was a tour guide for Niagara Falls when I was in high school. In German and English. But, don't come up to me and start speaking German, because it's gone. I worked in a van. That's why, if you put a microphone in front me, I can talk for four hours.

Guilty pleasures?

I love opera. So, when I'm home alone, I'll crank the stereo up full tilt and listen to Suor Angelica, a Puccini opera.

Do you sing along?

You'll have to drive by to figure that one out.

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