Tuesday, September 17, 2002

Diverse array of food, friends spells success

By Jim Knippenberg jknippenberg@enquirer.com
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Diversity - in people, food, entertainment, voices - was the theme on a busy weekend benefit circuit.

        By far the largest of the events was Saturday's 13th annual Gourmet Sensation benefiting Hospice of Cincinnati. About 1,000 seriously devoted food and wine junkies paid $175 to $250 and journeyed to the ATP Center in Mason to sample the wares of 23 chefs from around the United States and France.

        Some wares, those: Roasted almond truffle with amaretto mousse from Teri Quatkemeyer at the Maisonette; grilled sturgeon marinated in summer herbs from John Fleer of Blackberry Farm in Tennessee; citrus tapioca crunch, a heart-stopper of a dessert from Noreen Nagao of the Palace; and the dish people couldn't stop talking about, a corn soup from Bertrand Bouquin at the Maisonette.

        “Can you imagine the calories we took in tonight?” asked co-chair Janet Ach. “Probably more calories than money,” she added.

        For a dose of diversity, you couldn't beat Colors of Cincinnati, a $45-a-head do thrown by Miami Purchase Preservation Fund, a 23-year-old agency that buys and rehabs historic houses that have fallen into disrepair, then rents or sells them to low-income families.

        A crowd of about 400 - white, African-American, Indian, Asian - showed up at Music Hall Ballroom Saturday to sample food from eight restaurants, bid on silent auction items and, especially, check out the entertainment.

        Indian music from Mohenjo Daro, folk dancing from the Hellenic Dancers, jazz from Blue Sapphire and music and dance from the Punjab Cultural Society.

        But more important, said executive director Mark Lenear, “It's about mingling. Getting a highly diverse crowd together and showing them they can have fun even though we aren't all the same.”

        Mission accomplished.

        Come Sunday morning, about 50 Cincinnati Men's Chorus supporters showed up at the Mount Washington home of caterer Jeff Thomas for a three-hour brunch. “I cooked it all myself. My kitchen staff made fun of me, but I did it anyway,” Mr. Thomas said. Brunch (an Italian-themed buffet with pork loin, marinated mushrooms, veggies) was followed by a caravan of cars headed to the marina and a three-hour cruise aboard the Satisfaction. More food. More fund-raising (“I got $600 in checks from people who wanted to be here but couldn't,” Mr. Thomas said.)


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