Last night, Chef Jose Garces, and his wife Dr. Beatriz Garces (right), hosted their second annual Garces Family Foundation Gala at the Kimmel Center for Performing Arts. The Garces Family Foundation was founded to provide access to healthcare and education for immigrant families in and around Philadelphia. Nearly 800 people attended the event which kicked off with a 6 p.m. VIP reception and dinner prepared by some of Philadelphia’s finest chefs in the Dorrance H. Hamilton rooftop garden. While this was happening upstairs, the general admission party started at 7 p.m. in the Kimmel Center lobby. MCing for the second year in a row was a very pregnant Alicia Vitarelli (left), 6ABC.
Below: chef-owner Greg Vernick and chef Kevin Sbraga working on the line preparing courses for the VIP Dinner. Vernick’s first course was a tuna tartare nicoise, where Sbraga’s third course was shrimp & grits. Chef Jose Garces prepared the second course of roasted Griggstown quail and chef Michael Solomonov prepared veal pastilla. Dessert was served in the lobby.
While the dinner party was going on upstairs, there was another party going on downstairs in Commonwealth Plaza where guests were treated to dishes from all of Garces’ restaurants, as well as from chefs like Marc Vetri (below, left), Jeff Michaud (below, right), Sylva Senat, Tim Spinner, Kate Jacoby, and Chef Chris Lee who is now with Forty 1° North in Newport, Rhode Island (he doesn't even list Sophia's on East Passyunk on his bio) as well as many other fine Philadelphia chefs.
Below: The downstairs was transformed into a street market festival, with food stands, spirits, a silent auction and dancing.
Yesterday afternoon state representatives Brian Sims and Steve McCarter introduced a landmark bill at LOVE Park that seeks to “provide civil marriage equality in Pennsylvania.” After that Sims headed over to the Kimmel Center to enjoy the Garces Gala, I caught him and his team as they were entering the building. Below, from left: Mark Stambaugh, Anna Aagenes, Mason Lane, Sims and Tim Keller.
Below, from left: Meredith Avakian-Hardaway and Marques Hardaway with Caliph and Deana Gamble.
Below: I ran into Chris Boccella, project manager at CVM Construction who is working on the new Kimmel Center Jose Garces restaurant, and wife Kerry Boccella. Chris tells me they expect a November opening for Garces's Volver. The restaurant is gorgeous and was a real collaboration between Garces, The Kimmel Center and the architectural firm Kieran Timberlake.
Below, from left: chefs Scott Schroeder of South Philly Tap Room and American Sardine Bar, and Mark Regan.
Below, from left: Leonard Dumoff, Joe Campbell of Chickie & Pete's and Ed O'Donnell, director of marketing for Samuels & Son Seafood.
Below: Seth and Jenna Birch. Seth's company, 20/10 Solutions, just did a redesign on the Garces Foundation's new logo, and it's sharp.
Below, from left: Sam Shoap, Jason Cichonski of Ela (is this where I start calling him Top Cheftestant or whatever tag was attached to Jen Carroll for the last decade?) and Tara Marie.
Below, from left: Liz Trubey, marketing projects manager, Parx Casino, Kali Sodano, advertising manager at Parx Casino, Carrie Nork Minelli, director of advertising and public relations at Parx Casino, Jen Sherlock and Seana Swierczek.
Below, from left: Sam Hamilton, chef Charles Hamilton of Christie's in Rhode Island, Samantha Ohren and Crawford Hamilton. Charles is first cousins with Sam and Crawford, and was excited to be invited to participate in the Garces Gala
Below: Carolina Zuritsky and president of Parkway Corp. Robert Zuritsky had just come from the opening celebration of the new Home2Suites hotel, a collaboration between the Zuritsky's and the Wurzak Hotel Group across from the convention center.
Below: Fork's Eli Kulp with his raw Fluke.
The ladies from 6ABC, from left: Annie McCormick, Melissa Magee and Alicia Vitarelli with Matthew Pantaleno of NBC10 Philadelphia. Alicia and Matt are excited for the birth of their daughter in January–right after Alicia reports on New Year's Day activities, including the Mummer's Parade. I hope she's getting an inside reporting job as this August weather is not going to last until then. Congrats!!