An insider's view of the Connecticut dining scene
Sep 27, 2013
09:52 AM
The Connecticut Table

Great Food From Fairfield County's Hottest Restaurants; Stamford Event for a Top Cause

Great Food From Fairfield County's Hottest Restaurants; Stamford Event for a Top Cause

There’s at least a few different ways to dice up the appeal of an event this coming Tuesday evening (Oct. 1) in Stamford called Food for All 2013—but no matter the cognitive knife technique, you end up in the same tempting place.

Guests at The Loading Dock will get a richly flavorful infusion of the talent in the kitchens at Fairfield County’s hottest restaurants, while enjoying beer, wine and more from the impressive portfolio of Diageo in a stylish, high-energy setting.

“The cool thing about it is that sense of diverse restaurants. You’ll just get a nice variety of food,” said Kevin Mullins, executive director of Community Plates, the nonprofit entity that benefits from this fund-raising culinary event.

Mullins’ role suggests another, more serious and civic-minded way of looking at the appeal of attending an event that has two components, a VIP Cocktail Reception (6:30 to 7:30; ticket price $250) and A Night to End Hunger in Fairfield County (7:30 to 10; ticket price $150).

Community Plates, based in Fairfield County, established a volunteer-driven, technology-fueled method for transferring surplus food to those in need. In essence, that means partnering with restaurants, markets and other food providers to strategically collect food that would otherwise be thrown away and get it into households as a means of combating—and eventually ending—“food insecurity” here and across the nation.

Given that goal, the event draws a crowd that sees having a conscience and giving back as a key ingredient to connoisseurship. “The cool thing about this for me is really the [passionate, generous] people who show up,” said Mullins. “There will be lots of conversations that don’t have anything to do with Community Plates but all of them are centered on making a difference.”

What there will also be is lots of energy, and fun—no sleepy background classical lite and delicate, inconspicuous tinkling of forks. Here’s an example: “One of the really good friends of Community Plates is an international ping pong sensation,” Mullins said, explaining that guests can play him for a donation of $25. For any time the pro loses, he will donate $250 to the cause.

But Food for All 2013, the third annual fundraiser for Community Plates, isn’t about ping pong—it’s about great food and great people as vehicles for great change, with the emphasis in this event on the food.

Tasting tables will be on display throughout The Loading Dock, and the event opens with the VIP reception, which will feature an oyster bar by Norm Bloom & Son and a vodka tasting by Diageo. Anyone who wants to attend that part of the event has to hurry, though. As of late Friday morning, only about 10 tickets were left. They are available online.

Meanwhile, tickets are not limited for the main course, the A Night to End Hunger in Fairfield County (starting at 7:30) tasting. Tickets are also available online, but will also be sold at the door.

As for what to expect, the roster of participating restaurants as of midweek looked like this:

  • 323 Restaurant & Bar (Westport), which combines the charm of an authentic New England farmhouse with New York sophistication
  • Aladin Indian Bistro (Norwalk), where lighter more health conscious ‘traditional’ Indian food delivers the dramatic impact of the cuisine’s spices and preparation techniques
  • Baro (Fairfield), a redefined Cantina offering a cerviche/anticuchos bar, craft cocktails and community seating
  • Bar Sugo (Norwalk), where the chef’s broad flavor palette surpasses typical Italian eateries
  • Bailey’s Backyard in Ridgefield, offering casual, yet refined, new American cuisine in a polished relaxed atmosphere
  • The Cask Republic, the Stamford-based tavern voted one of the best pubs in Connecticut
  • Mama’s Boy Southern Table & Refuge (South Norwalk), which offers Southern hospitality and charm with a little sass
  • Millstone Farm (Wilton), where they pursue the best means possible to help good food take firm root in the soil and fabric of the community
  • Mecha Noodle Bar (Fairfield), where some of Asia’s most comforting dishes are served, from Vietnamese Pho to Japanese Ramen
  • NOLA Oyster Bay in Norwalk, where the dining experience incorporates “from New Orleans to Maine and all shorelines in-between”
  • Oak + Almond (Norwalk), with cuisine inspired by the traditions and techniques of yesteryear
  • Post 154 (Westport), with a land and sea menu concept that is global, often playful, occasionally more refined, and always flavorful and contrasting
  • Redding House (West Redding), the neighborhood gathering place the offers a modern approach to comfort food
  • The Spread SoNo (Norwalk), regarded as industry leaders in culinary deviance and solutions.

The sponsors of Food for All 2013 include CTbites, the New England Culinary Group, Northern Trust, the Sherman Group and WhenToManage. Mullins also mentioned that Linda Kavanagh of MaxEx, LLC has been a great help.

The funds raised next Tuesday will go toward curing a significant problem nationwide, and in Connecticut. Some 50 million Americans, including 100,000 in Connecticut, are considered food-insecure, Community Plates says, citing the fact that 40 percent, or $165 billion worth,  of the country’s food supply each year goes into the garbage each year.

“As such, the Connecticut-based Community Plates recognizes that the problem of hunger in the U.S. is a matter of logistics, not a lack of food,” a release on Tuesday’s event explained. “To combat the crisis, Community Plates established a volunteer-driven, technology fueled method for transferring surplus food to those in need.”

Here’s how the process works:

Step 1 – Food donor locations (e.g., restaurants, grocery stores, bakeries) set aside usable food that would otherwise be thrown out.  They box up the items in containers provided by Community Plates.  The donor locations then identify times when the food can be retrieved.

Step 2 – Volunteer food runners pick up donated food and drive them directly to area receiving agencies.  Volunteers use Community Plates’ GoRescue web and smartphone-enabled scheduling app to volunteer for a specific pick-up. The flexibility makes volunteering easy as food runners can select the day/time/place that works with their schedule.  (GoRescue technology powered by WhenToManage received the 2013 Computerworld Honors Program 21st Century Achievement Award for human services.)

Step 3 – The donated food is delivered directly to receiving agencies (e.g., soup kitchens, food pantries, etc.).  Because food is delivered the same day the donated items can include fresh fruits and vegetables, which enhance the healthy options available to those in need.

Since Community Plates was founded in 2011, some 700 volunteers have rescued food that equates to two-million meals. This has taken place in the organization’s three locations – Fairfield County, Albuquerque, NM, and Columbus, OH.  This fall, Community Plates is expanding to New Haven, and by the end of 2014 will enter another four locations as the organization aims to rescue another million meals within a year.

See Community Plates website to learn more, and go online for tickets for Food for All 2013.


Great Food From Fairfield County's Hottest Restaurants; Stamford Event for a Top Cause

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