Story by Jennifer Ferrell, photos by Renee DiPietro
“America is immigrants.”- Chef Jose Garces
The Think Local, Give Local Gala hosted by Philadelphia’s very own restauranteur and Iron Chef, Jose Garces, gave patrons an opportunity to aid in the Garces Foundation created to benefit Philadelphia’s immigrant community. As a child of immigrants hailing from Ecuador, Garces’ created a foundation that provides health and education services to the underserved immigrant population under his employment. To celebrate this worthy cause, the gala, held at the Loews Hotel in Center City, boasted delicious tastings from numerous Philadelphia restaurants while attendees bid silently on food themed items whilst sipping Tito’s Homemade Vodka and tasty wine. The full list of participating restaurants can be found below this article.
Greeted by smiling Philadelphia Eagles cheerleaders handing out auction fans and happy slicing, dicing, and dipping table attendants offering slices of roast pig, vegan cheesesteaks, and foie gras, my lovely date/best friend/talented photog friend and I proceeded into the main dining hall to listen to speeches while we proceeded to try the tasty treats at each vendor’s table. Holding a tasty Santa Julia Chardonnay, we walked around to make certain to visit every table while they welcomed us with a complete gastronomic description for which the fine dining sampling we were about to indulge.
Dressed in bright lights and a logo for the foundation, the room glowed while we circulated the room. Everyone enjoyed the full range of culinary delights while listening to the passionate cause and purpose of the foundation. One favorite culinary delight of ours was a sample of DiBruno Brother’s fondue, which included the possibility of almost everything one could hope for, dipped in delectable melted cheese including but not limited to meats, pickled veggies, sourdough bread, and even mini Philly soft pretzel bites. My friend’s favorite was the roast pig while I found a delicious pea soup dressed in mint atop smashed potatoes served in a lovely squared shot glass. While the majority of the tastings were meat heavy, one delicious presentation was a vegan cheesesteak from Wiz Kid Philly, which featured seitan and mushrooms mimicking the strong texture of meat while pleasing vegetarians and adventurous eaters alike.
A drink favorite was a Bluecoat Gin signature cocktail called The Bee’s Knees. In short, it is a garnished glass of Bluecoat with lemon juice and honey syrup. Among the prepared for the tasting for a bit of a sweet tooth, was LaColombe‘s draft coffee and melt in your mouth dried Asian pear brownies served with a correlating white wine also made from the same pears. Most of the food tastings were painted in sparkles of bright green herbs, shiny plumb green olives, or drizzled with curvy lines of sauce across the top. The numerous restaurant’s samplings were about as diverse and abundant as the attendees at the gala.
There were many amazing dresses to swoon over, as well as dapper “Dans” in bow-tied suits. We spoke with a few gentlemen who come to the event every year. Some where invited as they worked in conjunction with the restaurant industry while other patrons were happy to be a part of the Foundation’s cause. A live band topped off the event with danceable covers to get you moving and to burn off the many treats sampled.
The after party offered more dancing on the top floor of the hotel. Everyone shuffled into the elevators to dance the night away, enjoy more tasty cocktails, and try the sushi bar. Making sure to note the spectacular view of the Philadelphia skyline, we followed the crowd to witness the festivities and continue to sip our beverages while speaking to many more amazing people who were invested in the cause as well as being a part of an evening celebrating with Philadelphia’s fine fare.