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ATLANTIC CITY - The 33rd annual Atlantic Cape Community College Restaurant Gala raised $234,700 for scholarships for students at the Academy of Culinary Arts.

“Mission: Possible” was the theme this year, drawing focus to the fact the fundraiser makes a culinary education possible for many students.

The annual fundraiser, held March 24, featured a vast spread of hors d’oeuvres prepared by students at the Academy of Culinary Arts, house specialties from 41 area restaurants and a dessert extravaganza organized by Chef Deborah Pellegrino of Caesars Entertainment and Chef Michael D’Angelo of the Academy of Culinary Arts.

Kyle Timpson of Dennis Township, a student at the Academy of Culinary Arts, worked with graduates Steve Calhuon and Blaise Calamorino, both of Washington Township, to make inspired hors d’oeuvre.

“It’s like a bomb bursting in your mouth,” said Timpson.

The trio applied their scientific and cooking skills to make hors d’oeuvre that popped open in your mouth. It was a tomato served with a balsamic honey reduction, fried basil, olive oil powder and Parmesan crisp. “It’s molecular gastronomy with a twist on a Caprese salad,” said Timpson.

In his third year at the school, Timpson looks forward to the gala every year. “It’s nice because we get to see the public to get their reaction and feedback,” he said.

For Paula Spoltore of Oceanview, who attends the gala annually, the highlight of the night is talking to the student chefs. “I think it’s wonderful. The students are so happy to be doing what they do,” said Spoltore.

Hors d’oeuvres included extravagant spreads of meats, cheeses and vegetables, a cold seafood bar and specialty items such as duck liver mousse and a purple fried rice stir-fry. Inside, a flavorful spread of house specialties displayed the talent of area chefs.

“We’re trying anything that looks different,” said Becca DeRose of Galloway.

“We’re looking for anything that is inventive or creative,” added her friend, Elizabeth Ellison of Somers Point.

Some of the tempting creations included seared day boat scallops with pickled fennel, pine nut, currant salad honey gastrique and prosciutto crisp from the Stockton Seaview Hotel & Golf Club and braised lamb shanks with rosemary from McCormick & Schmick’s Fresh Seafood & Steaks.

“What’s not to like? You get to try things from places that you don’t get to visit. It’s an awesome event,” said Maureen McCloud of Hammonton.

Participating restaurants included: Annata Wine Bar, Assaggio!, Bonefish Grill, Buca di Beppo, Buddakan Atlantic City, Capriccio, Chart House, The Continental, The Deauville Inn, Dock’s Oyster House, The Ebbitt Room, Fin, Girasole Ristorante and Lounge, Gordon Ramsay Pub and Grill, Grotto at the Golden Nugget, Guy Fieri’s Chophouse, Icon Hospitality, Il Mulino New York, Il Verdi, Johnny’s Café, Kelsey’s, Knife and Fork Inn, Lillie’s Asian Cuisine, Linwood Country Club, Mama Mia’s Ristorante & Catering, Martorano’s, McCormick & Schmick’s, Morton’s The Steakhouse, Peter Shields Inn & Restaurant, Phillips Seafood, The Princeton Bar & Grill; Renault Winery; Roberta’s, Sammy D’s Restaurant & Bar, Sheraton Atlantic City, Sofia, The Smithville Inn, Stockton Seaview Hotel & Golf Club Coastal Grille, The Twenties Restaurant, The Washington Inn, Vic and Anthony’s Steakhouse, and Yacht Club of Stone Harbor.

Since 1984, the gala has raised more than $3 million for scholarships at the Academy of Culinary Arts and Atlantic Cape Foundation operations. The Restaurant Gala was held in the Avalon Ballroom of Harrah’s Waterfront Conference Center in Atlantic City.

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