HughE Dillon: ACHIEVEability Food for Thought

With 34 of Philly's top chefs at the event, I picked up some news for foodies.

Nearly 600 guests, 34 of Philadelphia’s top chefs, and 6 ABC’s Alicia Vitarelli were at ACHIEVEability‘s annual Food for Thought event Saturday night at the Navy Yard. ACHIEVEability aims to break the cycle of poverty by stabilizing families and focusing on higher education. Below: Vitarelli and Tim Thornton, of Vanguard, participate in the live auction.

Below: Marcus Allen, ACHIEVEability CEO, acknowledges the event’s co-chairs, Meredith L. Boice, of Urban Outfitters, and Jane Myer, of Vanguard. Community College of Philadelphia President Stephen M Curtis, Ph.D. accepted the 2013 Commitment to Education Award.

Below: Susie Celek, co-owner of Skin Palette and co-host of Comcast SportsNet’s Cruisin for a Bruisin, poses next to a familiar guy’s signed jersey.

Below: Dana Herbert, winner of TLC’s Next Great Baker, presented some of his delicious treats and posed for fans.

Below: Bartender Phoebe Esmon created a delicious punch and brought along Madison Alpern, and Chef Jennifer Carroll to help out. Others on hand for the night’s festivities included Marcie Turney, who tells me that in the coming weeks she’s going to move the staff from Lolita over to the space previously occupied by Fish’s midblock restaurant on the first floor of the the Independent Hotel Philadelphia at 13th and Locust streets. Then Lolita will undergo a three-month renovation, reopen and serve Mexican street food with a newly acquired liquor license. Also pictured: Karl Isaiah, of Cake Boulangerie, Daniel Stern, of R2L, and Chip Roman, of Blackfish and Mica. Check out today for Roman’s latest project.

Below: Rick Ehrlich and Jaimi Gordon. Jaimi tells me her client Pinkberry is opening its first Philly burbs outpost in the Bryn Mawr Square Shopping Center on May 9th. When I asked her if there were more Pinkberrys coming to Philly in the future, she couldn’t confirm, but I did see a twinkle in her eye when I specifically mentioned Center City.

Below: Matt Cadwell and Mary Jo and Jim Greco.

Below: Adam Spivak, of Electric Factory, and Karen Sajda.

Below: Donna M. Higgins and Rich Furino, of Del Frisco’s, in the Del Frisco’s VIP room.

Below: Miss People Dynasty International Jillian Pirtle is maintaining the “star” donation board.

Below: Chef Mitch Prensky, Katrina Plachta and Chris Harkanson created one of the most popular dishes, “Buffalo Grits,” and nearly half the people I chatted with at the event noted that dish as their favorite. Prensky tells me his new menu features lots of new dishes that reflect his southern cooking influence using grain, and all are very healthy.

Below: Craig Grant, Kharisma McIlwaine, CBS 3, and Al Butler, 900 AM WURD.

Below: Evon Burton, of ACHIEVEability, Miss Philadelphia Francesca Ruscio, Jamila Harris-Morrison, of ACHIEVEability, and Brett Watson.

Below: Erin and Kevin Hexstall, Jennifer Kunkale, and John J. Hare.

Below: Dale Keshishian, Danyl Patterson, Murray Lavoe and Danielle Capwell, of Sabrina’s Café.

Below: Genevieve McHugh and Chelsea Plesnitzer, of Urban Outfitters.

Below: Melissa Knight, of Stradley Ronon, Tony Payton Jr., and Megan Smith, Brownstone PR.

Below: Susan Slawson and Cynthia Douglas.

Below: Elizabeth Vitarelli was excited to attend ACHIEVEability with her daughter Alicia and son-in-law Matthew Pantaleno (an NBC 10 cameraman).