Community supports Project Self-Sufficiency at Andover event

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— Hundreds of patrons poured through the doors of Perona Farms on Monday night to help support Project Self-Sufficiency at the 18th annual A Taste of Talent, a fundraising event which offered guests the opportunity to sample hors d’oeuvres, entrees and desserts from area restaurants while mingling with the chefs.

Patrons were also invited to bid on the tabletop creations of several local designers. Thirty-two restaurants participated in the event, along with representatives from five design firms.

Proceeds from the event benefited Project Self-Sufficiency’s programs for low-income families in Sussex, Warren, and Hunterdon counties.

Project Self-Sufficiency Leadership Council member Lois Pellow and her husband Harold, served as Honorary Chairperson of the 2014 A Taste of Talent.

“I have been involved with Project Self-Sufficiency since the beginning because I thought it was such an outstanding idea to help women and children who needed specialized assistance," Lois said. "It’s a grass roots project that grew and grew until it became what it is today. It’s a wonderful organization and I don’t get involved with anything unless I think it’s worthwhile! A Taste of Talent gives you a chance to sample food from different restaurants, which is wonderful.”

Noting that the event has grown significantly to include a record number of chefs, Beverly Gordon, President of Project Self-Sufficiency’s Board of Directors said, “An event of this magnitude would not be possible without the dedication of the restaurateurs and chefs in our community. We are indebted to them for their enthusiastic participation and for their creativity.”

Pete Freund, owner of Cliff’s Homemade Ice Cream, volunteered as the Culinary Chairperson for this year’s event.

“A Taste of Talent is a wonderful experience," he said. "It’s a wonderful cause. You get some of the best people in the food and restaurant business gathered in one location for an evening.”

Participating restaurants included Perona Farms, Alice’s Restaurant, Andre’s Restaurant and Wine Boutique, Black Forest Inn, George Mandakas III, Blue Olive Market, Bobolink Dairy and Bakehouse, Café Pierrot, Caffe Navona, The Chatterbox Drive In, The Chocolate Goat Gift Shoppe, Cliff’s Homemade Ice Cream, Uwe Toedter, Faculty House, Columbia University, De Bragga and Spitler, Fossil Farms, George’s Wine and Gourmet Gallery, Hayek’s Market, The Homestead Rest, The Inn at Mill Race Pond, Jesse Jones Cuisine Catering, Krave Café and Caterers, Mosefund Farm, Pizza Bistro, Ristorante Il Porto, Riviera Maya Mexican Restaurant, Ryland Inn, St. Moritz Grill and Bar, Salt Gastro Pub, Salt Studio, Springhouse Creamery, LLC, Tante Baci Caffe, Triomphe Restaurant and Upstream Grille.

Guests were invited to stroll through the cavernous kitchen at Perona Farms and witness a cooking demonstration by Perona Farms Executive Chef Kirk Avondoglio, who said that the event has changed since its inception 18 years ago.

“Now we plan a month in advance and decide what we’re going to make. It has to be something new, something different.” Avondoglio said. “I believe in Project Self-Sufficiency and what they do.”

The Chocolate Goat Gift Shoppe owners Jennifer Koza and Stephanie Austin have been participating in A Taste of Talent since the event’s inception. The sisters are partners in their shop, and both look forward to attending A Taste of Talent each year.

“A Taste of Talent is one of those things that we look forward to every year, because it’s different for us. We get to participate in the event and see people enjoying our product,” said Jennifer. “For us just being a part of the event and giving back to Project Self-Sufficiency is what’s important. It can only be a positive thing when you are helping a charity. It’s a beautiful evening.”

The entryway at Perona Farms was transformed into a showcase featuring the wares of local designers.

Items were sold at a Silent Auction, with the proceeds benefiting Project Self-Sufficiency.

“A Taste of Talent directly benefits our Sussex County neighbors in need, and is the cornerstone to our annual campaign,” said Deborah Berry-Toon, Executive Director of Project Self-Sufficiency. “We are exceptionally grateful for the time, talent and resources provided by the chefs and the designers who have contributed to this event, and to the entire community for their support of our programs for low-income families.”

Supporters of the event donated funds at several levels, ranging from individual tickets priced at $200 to contributions of $25,000 or more. Silver Circle Members included Beverly and Bruce Gordon, Intercar Mercedes Benz, Susan and Gregory Murphy, Selective Insurance Company of America and Sussex Honda.

Supporters at the Chairman’s Table level included Francesca Fazzolari, James Alexander Corporation, and Rhoda and Norman Seider.

To find out how to make a contribution to Project Self-Sufficiency call 973-940-3500.

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