An ‘Evening with the Chefs’

Janine Dykeman, left, Roy Dykeman, take some home baked goods from Karen Bischoffberger, right, of Sugar Pearl during the Soroptimist International of Fulton and Montgomery County 26th annual “Evening With The Chefs” Monday at the Holiday Inn. (The Leader-Herald/Briana O’Hara)

JOHNSTOWN — The air inside the Holiday Inn was circulating with different smells and flavors of food from 17 different local restaurants Monday at the Soroptimist International of Fulton and Montgomery County 26th annual Evening With The Chefs.

“This event raises money for women and girls in our community, and we, as a club, donate $10,000 a year to [female] students in Fulton and Montgomery counties,” said Colleen Baldwin, one of the three chairwomen of the club and event.

Marianne Bianco, a Soroptimist International member, described the event as means of “women helping women.” She said it’s a wonderful event for a good cause.

“Each year they get better and better,” Bianco said.

All throughout the event, those who attended were able to sample food from the 17 restaurants.

The restaurants include Antonucci’s, Brass Monkey, Fox Run Golf Club, Hales Mill Country Club, Holiday Inn, Kingsboro Golf Course, Inn at the Bridge, Lanzi’s on the Lake, Raindancer, Russo’s Adirondack Bar & Grill, Salt, Sam’s Seafood Steakhouse, Saucy Italian, The Bridge Walk/Shorty’s Southside, Union Hall, Vintage Cafe, Sugar Pearl and assorted desserts from Colleen Baldwin.

“We really appreciate all the restaurants that help us out,” Baldwin said. “We really appreciate their efforts and commitment, continuous support of the program.”

Toni Jennings, the second chairwomen of the event, said the chefs are “really the stars of the evening.”

Karen Bischoffberger of Sugar Pearl said she was honored to be at Evening with the Chefs.

“I think it’s a great fundraiser and I support it 100 percent.”

As this marked the 26th annual Evening with the Chefs, it makes it the longest running annual fundraiser in Fulton and Montgomery counties and is the Soroptimist International’s largest fundraising event of the year. Throughout the event, attendees were able to mingle and get a taste for food from the 17 local restaurants. There was also live music, silent auction items and baskets that were raffled off.

Everything for the event is donated. Some of the sponsors include NBT Bank, Keymark Corp., Taylor Made, Franks Gun Shop, Castiglione Jewelers and FAGE.

Jennings said their goal for Evening with the Chefs was to raise $15,000. The organization raised $13,000. Baldwin said about 95 percent of the proceeds will go towards Soroptimist International’s scholarship program in which female students in Fulton and Montgomery counties will receive a $10,000 scholarship. Proceeds will also go towards other Soroptimist International-sponsored programs.

Some of these programs include the Captain Youth and Family Services; United Way; Nathan Littauer and St. Mary’s breast health programs; girls’ softball and field hockey teams; the Yellow Rose program which is a program that brings awareness to dating violence; the Back Pack Program with local schools that helps send healthy foods to students who often only get healthy foods at school; and many more programs.

Jennings said not only was the event a great way for to raise money for women and young girls, but it was also a good networking opportunity and a way for attendees to try foods from restaurants they haven’t been to and eat foods from some of their favorite restaurants.

“It’s wonderful, the food is fantastic, the company is better, lots of networking going on, lots of meeting new people from the area, seeing familiar faces and this is really a great way to experience local cuisine,” said Jen Hazzard, an attendee at the event. “There are a lot of places I haven’t been to that I now totally want to go there because of this experience. Of course, old favorites are not letting me down. I feel we should have this kind of thing more often just for the social aspect of it.”

Evening with the Chefs was also a way for restaurants to get to know one another.

“I think it’s just a great way for other business to kind of mingle with each other and a little bit of networking,” said Megan Podrazik of the Bridge Walk. “It’s put together very nicely, well organized and we’re very happy to be a part of it.”

By Patricia Older

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