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A Culinary Gala Worth Its Salt...And Pepper

Flavors 2007, a culinary experience like no other

(Taken from The Hartford Courant, by MaryEllen Fillo, March 22, 2007)

The adage about the ill effects of "too many cooks in the kitchen" was blown
to you know where Tuesday when a few dozen of the state's finest, most
persnickety culinary masters got together at the Aqua Turf in Southington to
turn out an array of breathtaking tables and tantalizing meals to benefit
the Connecticut chapter of the American Liver Foundation's "Flavors of
Connecticut: A Culinary Gala."

And they all got along.

About 300 people dressed to the nines ponied up $200 a head for the event in
Plantsville. Chefs from such places as Barcelona; Foster's; the Quinnipiak
Club and Carmen Anthony's in New Haven; Forbidden City in Middletown; the
Viking in Newport, R.I.; Vinnie's Fish House in Old Saybrook; and several
dining places at Mohegan Sun shared kitchen space, manpower and advice to
design table presentations and menus worth every dime to guests assigned to
each restaurant's table.

"This is actually kind of nice to work like this and get to see everyone,"
said Jeff Steelman of Tuscany at Mohegan Sun as he surveyed the
well-appointed dining room that reflected the eclectic styles of the 23
participating restaurants. "The idea that a group of cooks can't work
together is a fallacy."

While the Tuscany tables featured tulips and a spring theme, others were
more dramatic. Woodbridge Country Club's tables featured a soft,
chocolate-brown color combination with a "shabby chic" look, setting the
tone for a menu that included filet mignon and chocolate gravy.

For Vinnie's Fish House, owned by former NBA star Vin Baker, the table
setting was about being near the ocean, with oversize glass cylinders of
fresh flowers sitting in the middle of a sprinkling of sea glass and silver
star fish.

"I'm here to support my chef, Todd Curtis," said Baker, who, along with his
equally towering father, James Baker, stood above the rest of the crowd. "We
want to make sure everything is done just right."

The evening included guest speaker and former San Diego Chargers kicker Rolf
Benirschke, who, after undergoing ostomy surgery, continued to play
football, then was diagnosed with hepatitis C as a result of the intravenous
treatments he received.

"I'm happy to be here, to talk about what I went through and to inspire
others," said Benirschke, who wrote "Alive and Kicking" in 1996. "It is a
passion of mine."
Copyright 2007, Hartford Courant

Page updated: April 2nd, 2007