Our annual fundraiser, held April 3, 2018, with the theme “The Delights of Evolving Cuisine” selected by our award-winning Honoree, Chef/Owner of Sea Salt, Barbatella and Dorona Fabrizio Aielli, turned out to be delightful in many ways, beginning with our event venue —  Brian and Nicole Roland’s stunningly versatile Venue Naples. Chrissie Forbes, along with Brian and Nicole, were the inspired leadership team that produced this fabulous event.

A lively mood was immediately set by the music of The Steve DeLadurantey Trio, with touches of green, white and red in tribute to our Chef Aielli’s Italian background grabbing us visually. A welcoming committee was there to assist with the set-up of electronic equipment for bidding, and with glasses of a delicious Champagne in hand, we started our review of a number of enticing silent auction items, pausing to place bids. Then it was time to begin tasting a variety of imaginative cuisines and wines provided by our generous in-kind food and wine sponsors Crave Culinaire; Matthews and Gardner; Sea Salt, Barbatella and Dorona; The French Brasserie, Osteria Tulia, and Bar Tulia; and Mikkelson’s Pastry Shop.

The program featured its own unique delights. First there was watching a charming slide show about Chef Fabrizio and Ingrid Aielli, narrated by Ingrid, with their young son Adrian standing alongside them. Then everyone had the rare privilege of hearing our evening’s emcee, Brian Roland, interview two of our most recent award-winning scholarship winners who had been attending the Culinary Institute of America, Estrellita Diaz and Miles McMullen. Estrellita was working in the kitchen that night and had worked for Brian in the past. In fact, it was Brian, a CIA graduate himself, who had encouraged Estrellita to apply to the CIA. She recently completed her two-year Associates Degree and will return in the fall to complete a Bachelor’s. In the case of Miles, whose father attended the CIA, he received his Bachelor’s Degree from the CIA in December and immediately started work at the Ritz-Carlton Naples Beach Resort. We know both of our scholarship awardees will go far in their chosen fields and feel gratified to have been able to assist them with their education.

The evening concluded with a live auction made especially exciting by professional auctioneer Scott Robertson. Auction items included not only highly desirable small group dinners prepared by our finest chefs but also a European river cruise, a week’s stay in a Tuscan villa, a fine painting by the UNICEF artist Betsy Ross Koller, and a 500 million-year-old Eocene fish fossil.

Earlier that evening, preceding the main event, a tasting of great age-worthy Old-World Wines, generously provided by Lacey King and Alan Goodridge, had taken place nearby at The Wine Merchant. With Advanced Sommelier Mladen Stoev conducting the tasting, it sold out quickly, and led seamlessly into the main event.

Sponsors were especially generous in their support this year, and CHEF thanks them for their significant contributions. Corporate sponsors were Crave Culinaire/Venue Naples, Gulfshore Life Magazine, Accessories Etc. Design Group, Designer Rug Center. Silver sponsors were Erika and Peter Aron, Jeannette Boucher, Lacey King and Alan Goodridge, Ellen and Thomas Granger, and Maureen and Arnold Lerner. Bronze sponsors were Norman and Suzanne Cohn, William and Nancy Dunlap, Johnson & Wales University, Ernie and Joan Muir, Kenneth Plunkitt, and Don and Diane Sardilli, and Premium sponsors were Dean Corsones, Julie Domenick, Grace Frey, Bruce Gilbert, Tomassina Ichiro, Courtney Madden, Thelma Negley, Selma Nettles, Ivan Seligman, and Susan Vareschi.

Early news is extremely positive concerning proceeds from the evening, and it appears we will have about $65,000 to award in scholarships starting very soon thanks to everyone’s generosity!

– By Jeannette Boucher, President                             

Photo Credit: Ivan Seligman, Director