HughE Dillon: Garces Family Foundation Gala

The first annual event at the Kimmel Center featured bites from the city's top local chefs, Flamenco dancers and an auction.

Last night at the Kimmel Center, Jose Garces and his wife, Dr. Beatriz Garces, held their first major gala under the umbrella of their newly formed philanthropic organization the Garces Family Foundation. The organization was founded to help 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, followed by a dinner prepared by some of Philadelphia’s finest chefs in the newly opened Dorrance H. Hamilton Rooftop Garden. While this was happening upstairs, the general admission party was going on downstairs. Guests sampled dishes from all of Garces’ restaurants as well as places like Fish, Kanella, Tashan, Koo Zee Doo, Hans Dynasty and Zama. Stopping by the VIP reception were Mayor Michael Nutter and First Lady Lisa Nutter, pictured here with Dr. Beatriz Garces and Chef Jose Garces.

Pictured below: Peggy Peterson, Dr. Steven Larson, executive director and co-founder of Puentes de Salud (1840 South Street), and the evening’s honoree, and Dr. Afaf I. Meleis, University of Pennsylvania dean of the School of Nursing. Puentes de Salud is an organization that has long been committed to the wellness of Philadelphia’s immigrant community. The funds raised at last night’s event will be used to build a community center to house the many services that Puentes de Salud provides.

Pictured below: A.J. Marisco; Annie McCormick, an award-winning television reporter who recently joined the 6ABC family; Cindy Brubaker; PA Senator Mike Brubaker; Jo Manheim; Dave Maser; Garces Foundation Secretary Allison Young (congratulations on Dave & Allison’s recent engagement); Christie Toretti; and Joe Manheim.

Neil Shah, President and Chief Operating Officer Hersha Hospitality Trust, is pictured here with Juhi Shah. They are big fans of all the Garces restaurants, but they especially love Amada.

Mark Bee of Silk City is pictured with Indhira Torres, who loves Amada, and highly recommends the sangria. Also shown are Christie Proud Bernstein and Ryan Bernstein. Others spotted at the cocktail party were Jim and Karen Sorkin, Sharon Pinkenson, Honorable Anthony Williams, Michael Braunstein, Eden Blair, Jen Beatty, Irina Mitchell, Priscilla Bardonaro, Christy Adams, and Nicole Gerson.

Pictured below: Patrik Hellstrand of Revel Casino; Dorothy Potash, Senior Vice President at Merrill Corporation; Jason Spillerman, principal and co-founder of Vibrant Development Group; Sid Yu of Revel Entertainment Group; Maureen Simon, Revel’s public relations director; and Neil Cantor, Revel Entertainment Group. Earlier this week Maureen asked me to be a judge for the Revel Resorts Halloween Contest on October 27. From 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. you can participate in the Creepy Cocktail Crawl at eight different Revel venues and at 8 p.m. crawl over to The Social with your costume for the Angels and Demons Costume Contest. Top prize $1,000. See you there.

While the VIP cocktail party was going on, a team of chefs was working hard behind the scenes preparing the hors d’oeuvres. Chefs included Tim Spinner, Jonathan Adams, Michael Schulson and Joey Baldino. An equally hard-working team of chefs prepared dinner. They included Michael Solomonov, Jeff Michaud, Jonathan Adams, Jose Garces and Kevin Sbraga.

Pictured below: Dr. Tony Rodriguez, Michael Williams, Christina and John Saler. All four said they loved JG Domestic which is Jose Garces’ farm-to-table American small plate restaurant located in the first floor Cira Center, just off of 30th street train station. There’s a parking garage right there for your convenience.

Pictured here: Anne Ewers, President & CEO of Kimmel Center, and the Honorable Marjorie Rendell. I spoke to Beka Rendell who was sitting at the table, and she told me the dinner was incredible. She especially loved Kevin Sbraga‘s dessert, a pineapple upside-down cake and coconut sorbet with a pomegranate -thyme gelee.

OMG! It’s the trio from Men Who Dine. The three—who take us on a gastronomic journey across the globe via their website and Twitter—came down from NYC to support the Garces Foundation. They are friends with Jose, as well as many of the chefs in Philly. They say the Philly restaurant scene is booming, and they really admire the camaraderie of the chefs in our town. They’re thrilled that Jen Carroll is opening a restaurant in Manhattan. I look forward to seeing them at the opening party of Concrete Blonde. Which reminds me: the Hamels Foundation Dinner I covered earlier this spring, will be featured on Bravo’s Life After Top Chef on October 17th.

Pictured below: Lou DiMattia, Amanda Hartung and Kim Setlowe. After the dinner the group that had gathered in the rooftop garden joined the party going on in Commonwealth Plaza. I saw Lou and Amanda kicking their heels up among the flamenco dancers. Others spotted on the dance floor were Dana Spain, Carol Drumstas, Marisa Magnatta, Keith Harad, Brittany Gillespie, Mike Phinny, Kate Hanssen, Eric Dube, Greg Simone, Jennifer and Bill Perantedu.Pictured below: Matthew Pantaleno; 6ABC anchors Alicia Vitarelli, Nydia Han and husband Dennis Reilly, 6ABC weather reporter Melissa Magee and 6ABC Traffic Guy Matt Pellman. Nydia Han and husband Dennis welcomed a baby girl in April. Baby Sabine is now five months old and adorable. Mom tells me she’s going to be a lamb for Halloween. Nydia is hosting the 2nd Annual Sassy 17 Tea and Fashion Show for the Career Wardrobe this Sunday at the Rittenhouse Hotel. It’s a mommy/daughter event. If Sabine is on the right sleep cycle maybe she’ll be in attendance. Later in the evening Alicia emceed the live auction where they auctioned off a stove with a dinner cooked by Jose Garces which sold for $5,000, then an afternoon at his farmhouse with food from Garces’ Catering for 50 people which sold for $5,500. It was a great kick off party for the inaugural event!