HughE Dillon: Taste of the Nation pics

Plus: Power women network at Franklin Mortgage, and where to spot celebrities this week

The city’s top chefs, including 10 Arts chef Jennifer Carroll, along with a myriad of culinary pros, came together to fight childhood hunger Monday, when Taste of the Nation returned to Philadelphia’s Loews. The event benefits Philabundance, Coalition Against Hunger, Food Trust, and PA Hunger Action Center.

Phillies Chad Durbin and Brad Lidge greet Carroll. Brad and Lindsay Lidge founded Lidge’s Legion in 2008, which benefits The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). Brad invites 50 patients and their families to enjoy a ballgame each month. Brad and Lindsay also told Jen they never missed her episodes of Top Chef.

ABOVE: Marcie Turney, chef/co-owner, and Valerie Safran, co-owner, both of Bindi, Lolita, Barbuzzo, Grocery, Open House and Verde; Capital Grille chefs Kevin Kramer and Shawn Sollberger; and Varga Bar’s R. Evan Turney. Evan and sister Marcie were both inspired to cook by their grandfather who owned a popular restaurant called The Spot back in Wisconsin. Later his Uncle Burt owned a place right below it called Dirty Burt’s.

ABOVE: Doug Keith, François Pierre, with Lynette Marrero and Maria Polise from Amada.

ABOVE: Varga Bar’s Stephanie Altes and Marcello Giordano. Marcello has a successful company that provides many of the restaurants in Philadelphia with their produce, including his childhood friend Rob Waserman, owner of Rouge and 500 Degrees. On Tuesday, 500 Degrees re-opened after a fire. Although Rob kept the place the same, he did add a few things to the menu; hot sauce, BBQ and guacamole can now be added to your burger, and they now serve strawberry shakes.

ABOVE: Richard Cusack, and Charlotte Calmels and husband/chef Pierre Calmels of Bibou, with their foie gras and chicken liver custard, green olive and tomato sauce. It was delicious.

ABOVE: Brian Adoff acted as auctioneer for the big items at the event as wife Morgan looks on. Mark Vetri bid $1,000 for an eight-person dinner by Jennifer Carroll. The Four Seasons experience went for $525! Two silent auction winners were on the set of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia yesterday. A Fox Helicopter tour of the city went for $200. Tonight is the grand opening of Mac’s Tavern at 226 Market Street. Co-owners Rob McElhenney and Kaitlin Olson will appear on the red carpet, along with fellow It’s Always Sunny cast members Glenn Howerton and Danny DeVito, after 8 p.m. On Monday Baba Taiye Renfrow was standing outside Distante, where he works, and he spotted Danny DeVito. He stopped and chatted with him, and got a picture to boot.

If they had a show called Hot Chef, no doubt Chef Jason Cichonski of Lacroix at the Rittenhouse would be on it. His menu at the event was stuffed cherries with foie gras, dipped in smoked balsamic, and rolled in a pine nut crunch. Don’t they look deelish!?!

Taste of the Nation Committee includes (not all pictured here): Cameron and Mark Amirau, Imane Hanine, Colleen Watts and Sydney Waldron, Mike Kates, Emily Perschetz, Brian Adoff, Morgan Adoff, Linda Huss, Cathy McVey, Hughe Dillon, Emily Byram, James Zeleniak, Aaron Matzkin, Sydney Waldron, Corbin Evans, Jill Horn, Kelly Morrison, Keren Ini, Alan Spooner, David Hall, Patrice Crawford, Kelly Morrison, and Erin McCloskey. Just like the Great Chefs Event, Taste of the Nation grows every year. I do know that tickets sales were up over last year, and the fun quota was too.


Last Thursday night I went to a meeting planners event. I had met Ashley Albrecht (of Albrecht Events) at the Lippincott House Murder Mystery event a few months ago. She  invited me to cover a networking party she was having at Franklin Mortgage and Investment Co. bar on 18th Street. Food was provided by b*smiths gourmet catering, which I love. Albrecht Events is a Philadelphia-based events management firm that specializes in destination management services.

ABOVE: Erin Soper, Jennifer McConnell (VP of Albrecht Events), Elizabeth Hobson and Beth Moynihan. Organizations often have these events to showcase their services; that night many hotel concierges attended.
ABOVE: Grace Lissauer, of The Chocolate Nation, explains the delectable chocolate she created to Erin Soper and Elizabeth Hobson.  (You’re supposed to eat them in a certain order.)

ABOVE: Wanda Paul, senior vice president of finance and administration and Ashley Albrecht, managing director, both from the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau (PCVB); and Bonnie Grant, executive director of the Greater Philadelphia Life Sciences Congress.


Out and About: Last Thursday, the entire Minnesota Twins enjoyed steaks at Capital Grille; the previous night the Andy Reid clan was out celebrating their son’s birthday. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia cast members moved from one converted office building/hotel to another when it turned out there were not enough suites to accommodate them all. Monday afternoon, Shane Victorino and his glowing, pregnant wife Melissa enjoyed a late lunch at Rouge.
The Phillies centerfielder and his wife announced the formation of the Shane Victorino Foundation. For its first major project, the foundation pledged $900,000 to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Philadelphia to renovate its Nicetown unit, which will be renamed the Shane Victorino Nicetown Boys & Girls Club.

Tonight at an invitation-only party, Survivor alumni Stephenie LaGrossa will be at Priscilla of Boston in Ardmore, celebrating a collection of party dresses by Thread Social.

On Thursday, noted actor, director, producer and founder of the Sundance Film Institute Robert Redford will talk with Robert Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts about instilling a culture of bold risk-taking, collaboration and innovation to achieve limitless success in business.  At the Suzanne Roberts Theater at 8:30AM. Tickets can be found here.

Also Thursday, Daisy Martinez will be doing a book signing and cooking demonstration at the Williams-Sonoma, at the Shops at the Bellevue at 5 p.m. (Books must be bought at the store.)