Symphony of Food offers medley of flavor for charity

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For the past six years, the Symphony of Food, a fundraiser organized by the Women of Southwestern Pennsylvania, has been a sellout. While the event is only one day each January, the endeavor is a philanthropic one that lasts the entire year.

This year's fundraiser will be held starting at 6 p.m. Jan. 24 at the Bella Sera Event Center, 414 Morganza Road, Canonsburg. But the annual event, now in its seventh year, is only the beginning of the nonprofit's work to help the community support women and children in need.

"In May, our philanthropy committee of eight reviews the grant proposals that come in and decides which organizations will get donations and how much," publicity chairwoman Cathy Shader said. "Then in November, we stage a grant recipient dinner in which one representative from each organization speaks for three minutes and tells those assembled what they did with the funding."

The nonprofit, WOMEN, is short for Women Organized to Mentor, Empower and Network.

In 2013, Women distributed more than $48,000 to 35 charitable organizations plus another $1,000 to the winner of the Jefferson Award, a community service award given on both the national and local level.

Co-founded in 1972 by Jacqueline Kennedy, Sen. Robert Taft Jr. of Ohio and Sam Beard, the Jefferson Award has recognized more than 50,000 unsung heroes. Locally, the award is given to a recipient each spring during a ceremony at the Carnegie Music Hall in Oakland.

At this year's Symphony of Food, eight chefs from local restaurants will prepare their signature dishes for a sit-down, set-menu dinner. Accommodations will be made to vegetarians and those with food allergies to select options.

The chefs donate their time and food costs.

David Lamatrice, president of the Pittsburgh Group, said chef Dave Ross of Bistecca Steakhouse at the Meadows Race Track and Casino will prepare a center cut Angus filet with mixed vegetables.

Owner/chef Carmela Giaramita of La Tavola on Mount Washington is making a pasta with shrimp and crab, while pastry chef Cheryl Martin of Angelo's in Washington is bringing a two-layer gelato cake for dessert.

"One layer of the cake will be white; the other will be our Death by Chocolate," she said. "In between, we'll have two different flavors of gelato." At the beginning of dinner, each chef will walk down a staircase from the balcony and be introduced by mistress of ceremonies WTAE-TV's Sally Wiggin during the Parade of Chefs. Other chef participants include Rob Bernoski of Il Burloni, Jason Sicher of Piccolina's, Barb Cyprowski of Country Confections in Canonsburg and Ben D'Amico of Giant Eagle's Market District. Breads will be donated by Bartram's Bakery of Peters.

Entertainment will be provided by mime Dan Kamin of Pittsburgh, who has performed worldwide and has trained actors Robert Downey, Jr. and Johnny Depp for films.

There will be ticket auctions to raise funds.

Tickets are $100 and are tax deductible. They are not available at the door.

Details: 724-514-7176 or online at

Dave Zuchowski, freelance writer:

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