ANDOVER TOWNSHIP — At one end of Perona Farms’ large kitchen, a jazz trio, made up of keys, an upright bass and drums, set the mood while patrons mingled and moved from table to table, tasting the treats laid out before them.
There was blackened salmon with a mango salsa and a champagne vinaigrette from the Upstream Grille, wild mushroom tortellini served with a marsala cream sauce from The Pizza Bistro, and salmon tartar on a cucumber round from Krave. And that’s only a thin slice of what patrons were able to test with their taste buds Monday night.
About 550 people attended the 19th annual A Taste of Talent fundraising event, held to help support Project Self-Sufficiency.
“We have 33 restaurants,” said Deborah Berry-Toon, executive director of Project Self-Sufficiency. “And we’re very excited to have the support of so many individuals in the community.”
Berry-Toon said the event helps the nonprofit raise close to $200,000.
Featuring room after room filled with food from fine restaurants, the event was spread throughout Perona Farms’ kitchen, Florentine Room, Gold Room, Venetian Room and The Roost. Patrons could grab cocktails from the various bars set up throughout the venue.
In the Florentine Room, Laurie Boyle, owner of The Trout & The Troll, served smoked trout tzatziki salad in a horseradish dusted cup.
“We’ve been doing this since 1998 with Project Self-Sufficiency,” said Boyle, who is also the owner of Salt Gastropub.
Frances Gould Naftal, a member of the Project Self-Sufficiency Leadership Council, and her husband, Marvin, served as honorary chairpersons of the 2015 event.
“I can’t imagine this area without Project Self-Sufficiency,” Gould Naftal said. “The need for what Project Self-Sufficiency does is growing, and I think that A Taste of Talent is another way to express this feeling of community in the best sense of the word. It is fun and one of the better events in our area.”
In the Tuscany Room, Don Hall, owner of The Chatterbox Drive-In and the event’s culinary chairperson, pan-seared scallops. The smell wafted across the room, and in a bowl to the side, raw scallops marinated in olive oil and pepper. As Hall laid each one down in the pan, a mouth-watering fizzle sounded.
The entryway at Perona Farms was transformed into a showcase featuring the wares of local designers, including Patricia Bruterri of Sweet P.E.A.’s; Holly George of Holly George Interior Design; Jacky Murphey of Victory Frame Shop; and Alicia Shearer of Alicia Shearer Interior Design. Patrons bid on table designs, which featured place settings for eight, art objects, and decorative items associated with the Broadway shows “Honeymoon in Vegas,” “Gigi” and “West Side Story.” All items were sold at a silent auction, with the proceeds benefiting Project Self-Sufficiency.
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 & Bruce Gordon; Intercar Mercedes Benz; Susan & Gregory Murphy; Selective Insurance Company of America; and Sussex Honda.
“A Taste of Talent directly benefits our Sussex County neighbors in need, and is the cornerstone to our annual campaign,” Berry-Toon said. “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.”
Participating restaurants included The Chatterbox Drive In; Perona Farms; Andre’s Restaurant & Lakeside Dining; Black Forest Inn; Bobolink Dairy; Café Pierrot; The Chocolate Goat Gift Shoppe; The Clay Oven; Cliff’s Homemade Ice Cream; De Bragga & Spitler; Dre’s; Fossil Farms; George’s Wine & Gourmet Gallery; the Gourmet Gallery; Hayek’s Market; The Inn at Millrace Pond; Jesse Jones, Chef to the Stars; Krave Café & Caterers; La Strada Ristorante; Mosefund Farms; Ninety Acres Culinary Center; Pattycakes; Pizza Bistro; Restaurant Triomphe; Ristorante Il Porto; Salt Gastro Pub & Salt Studio; Springhouse Dairy & Creamery; Spring Street Pub & Grill; St. Moritz Grill & Bar; Tanti Baci Caffe; The Trout & The Troll; Topo Restaurant; and Upstream Grille.