This year, chef Bruce Kazan of Main Course Restaurateurs & Caterers will feature the first shoots of spring, ramps and fiddleheads and fresh morel mushrooms. “We will be using whatever Mother Nature and our local farmers have to offer,” said Kazan. “It will be a fun and creative menu.”
Cocktails and hors d’oeuvres will be served at 6 p.m., as the Sun begins its descent over the Shawangunks. Dinner courses will feature local wine pairings. After dessert, a short auction of rare and special wines, beer, art and other items will be held.
Tickets are $130 per person, with $100 directly benefiting a program that distributes free fresh produce to Ulster County’s neediest residents: low-income families, homebound seniors, at-risk youth and farmworkers. The $100 donation is tax-deductible.
“It’s an elegant and fun dinner with a group of people who are really committed to the cause. The food is amazing, but it’s the spirit of giving – making sure that the neediest people in our community get access to good food – that makes the event,” said Jill Rubin, director of the Phillies Bridge Farm Project.
The more money raised by the dinner, the more shares of fresh local produce Phillies Bridge is able to offer. Proceeds from last year’s benefit and supplemental fundraising efforts fed over 1,000 people. This year’s fundraising event goal is $8,000.
While Ulster County’s fertility and productivity are legendary, nearly 12 percent of residents do not have regular access to a full and balanced diet, and hunger rates are on the rise. Phillies Bridge partners with local social service organizations such as Hudson River HealthCare and Family of New Paltz to determine need and hand out boxes of produce, akin to the shares that local CSA subscribers receive. Any remaining funds are used to provide cooking classes, nutritional information and farm visits to recipients.
“Phillies Bridge Farm’s produce is like gold to our farmworkers,” explains Kenney Gould of Hudson River HealthCare, which receives ten shares from the outreach program. Hudson River HealthCare serves the workers of over 40 farms in Ulster County, providing health and dental services, case management and transportation.
“Most work on farms where they have monoculture crops, like apples. ‘ An apple a day’ is a great prescription, and we support it 100 percent. But the variation of vegetables and fruits is important – especially for workers suffering from chronic illnesses like diabetes and hypertension, where the two pillars of treatment are a healthy diet and exercise,” said Gould.
Those who can’t make it to this year’s Farm to Families Benefit Dinner can still contribute to the cause by making a donation by check or through Phillies Bridge’s website, Philliesbridge.org. Donations help Phillies Bridge to continue to educate and feed those in need, as well as the local community.
“It is extremely important to support our local family farms. They are a great resource for chefs to offer high-quality produce and meats,” said Kazan. “We know how our food is grown and we can offer our guests the best food and creative menus according to what is available and at the peak of freshness each day. Supporting family-owned farms should be important to everyone.”
To attend the dinner, contact Phillies Bridge Farm Project at (845) 256-9108 or email@example.com, or visit the website and download an RSVP card.