Dishing with Dee: Queens group’s Chef of the Year event truly scrumptious – QNS.com

Dishing with Dee: Queens group’s Chef of the Year event truly scrumptious

By Dee Richard

There were two interesting events we attended this week. The first was at Terrace on the Park. It was the annual fund-raiser for the Benefit of Queens Centers for Progress, formerly known as the Queens Cerebral Palsy Center. The organization provides services for people with developmental disabilities and it does a great job carrying out its mission.

Each year, its flagship fund-raiser is its now-famous “Evening of Fine Food.” The highlight of the event is the Chef or Chefs of the Year, depending upon how many honorees are vying for the title. This year there were two Chefs of the Year. They were Daniel Leone, the executive director of QPTV, and Walter Sanchez, owner and publisher of the Queens Ledger Newspaper Group.

In addition, there was also a special guest appearance by Daisy Martinez, who in January 2009 started producing “Viva Daisy” on the Food Network. Daisy was also selling autographed copies of her cookbook. Daisy in the past had been affiliated with PBS’s “Lidia’s Kitchen” and “Rachael Ray.” On Daisy’s show, she continues her focus on celebrating life and family through food — particularly her knowledge of the broad spectrum of Latin cuisine.

The Chef of the Year event was started in 1998 and the late Joe Previte was the first. In 2002, Gloria D’Amico, the county clerk, was Chef of the Year. As you are all aware, Gloria died a short time ago. Ex-Beep Claire Schulman was a great friend of Gloria’s and made some beautiful comments about what a dedicated public servant and a warm, loving person she was. In fact, Gloria was the first woman to hold the position of county clerk. Everyone, including the people from the QCP, were saddened by the loss of Gloria, but they all believed they were fortunate to have had the opportunity to know and love her.

Some of the evening’s featured restaurants at the event were some of my favorites. They were Kati Allo, Papazzio, Bourbon Street, Austin Steak and Ale House, London Lennies, Tequila Sunrise, Valentino’s on the Green, newcomer Strawberry’s Sports Bar and many more. As usual, the place was packed and everyone had a fun evening. It was good getting out and hobnobbing with all my old friends who I have not seen that much of lately due to the cold weather and unexpected amounts of ice and snow. I missed them all, but hopefully spring is on its way.

The second event, “Flights of Fancy,” was a fund-raiser for the Douglaston Club on its premises. It was an aerial photographic exhibition dating back to the 1930s. There were some interesting prints there that were also for sale. It appeared as though they had sold quite a few prints. One of the fun parts of the evening was a ring toss established in the bar area.

The area where the piano usually stands was cleared off and numerous bottles of liquor and wine were placed on the floor. For a small fee of $20, the participants were given three rings which they would toss in an attempt to drop the rings over the neck of the bottles. Quite a few of the participants walked away with some good spirits. They also had raffles and other fun ways to part you from your money. All during the evening flutes of champaign were served as well as a fantastic selection of petit fours and other irresistible sample finger desserts.

There were many friends and acquaintances at that event. Some of them were Judge and Mrs. George Grasso, John Ottulich with Lillian Garlich, Dennis and Jane Saffran, Rod O’Connell and Karin Karlander-von Schmeling, Barbara Rehren and Bill Bart. Although there were many others whom I knew, it was impossible to focus on all of them and these are the ones I remembered.

Ex-state Sen. Frank Padavan, a member of the Douglaston Club, was invited to the event but declined, saying he still didn’t feel quite up to going out — but he did buy a bunch of the raffle tickets. Senator, you were there in spirit and I hope you won one of the prizes.

That’s it for this week.

I look forward to hearing from you with information on people, parties and politics or gossip. I like receiving your voice mails at 718-767-6484, faxes at 718-746-0066 and e-mails at deerrichard@aol.com.

Don’t forget to check out the Focus on Queens page.

Till next week, Dee.

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