For the past nine years, WOMEN of Southwestern Pennsylvania has staged an annual fund-raiser at the Washington County Courthouse titled Art in the Round. Through this annual philanthropic event featuring the works of many area artists, WOMEN has disbursed $85,000 in grants to women and children in need.
"This year we decided it was time for a change," said Julia Black, of Peters, publicity chairwoman. "Even though we'd had great success with Art in the Round, we were up for taking on another challenging fund-raising concept."
A committee began investigating the possibilities and decided that, with all the interest in the food and the Food Channel, it might be appropriate to do something that could tap into the current culinary craze. Their final answer was a Symphony of Food, featuring the gastronomic creations of six area chefs.
It apparently was a good idea. Reservations have been brisk, and the event scheduled for Friday is near capacity, organizers say.
For a $65 donation, patrons will be able to sit down to a six- course dinner prepared by some of the area's finest chefs at Bella Sera by Greco's in Cecil, known for its Old World Italian decor.
"All of the chefs seem very excited about participating," Ms. Black said. "Half-hour interviews with the chefs will be broadcast on the Peters Township Channel 7 daily from now through the week of the event."
While a jazz combo from Washington and Jefferson College will fill the hall with music starting at 6:30 p.m., patrons will be greeted by KDKA-TV's Brenda Waters, who will pass out complimentary glasses of Ciao Prosecco, an Italian sparkling wine, and act as the evening's master of ceremonies. To go with the bubbly, Bella Sera will serve a Tuscan antipasto prepared by executive chef Rob Smith
During dinner, Barbara and Paul Cramer, a keyboard and vocalist duo, will entertain the audience, and before each course, three-minute video clips projected on the wall will introduce each chef before his or her preparation is served.
"The media presentation was put together by Pittsburgh Women in Film," said Donna Nardine, event co-chairwoman along with Carol Gehrig, both of Peters. "I might add that all the chefs are donating their time and the food that goes into their creations."
Wine pairings with each course will be served at corporate tables of 10 or more guests on a complimentary basis, although the other patrons can purchase the same wines by the glass or bottle at the cash bar.
The featured wines include a 2005 Castello Banfi Centine Rose, a 2005 Cecchi Chianti Classico, a 2005 Castello Banfi Centine Rosso Toscana and a 2006 Fumaio Sauvignon Blanc/Chardonnay blend from Tuscany.
"Kelly Castellano of Southern Wine and Spirits will pour the wines at the corporate tables and talk about each one," said Ms. Nardine. "We will also have a cigar station set up for those who might like to purchase one, but they'll have to be smoked outside the building."
The Tuscan antipasto will feature a selection of specialty imported items including olives, cured meats, marinated vegetables, assorted pestos, white bean hummus and aged cheeses. It will be served with Greco's signature baked parmesan and artichoke gratin and a variety of flat breads, pita crisps, bread sticks and lavosh crackers,
The six-course menu will also include:
• Cream based soup and Quail House salad prepared by chef Mark Alfano of Alfano's at the Quail in North Strabane.
• Angel hair pasta with fire-roasted tomato vodka sauce, featuring fresh herbs and cheeses by Bella Sera's Mr. Smith.
• Strawberry champagne sorbet to clear the palate made by chef Carolyn Yurkovich of Cooking with Carolyn, a restaurant consulting business in Peters.
• Center cut boneless pork loin Marsala with mushrooms and bell peppers prepared by chef Tom Rebstock of Bruschetta's al Lago in North Strabane.
• A variation of chicken Milanese prepared by chef Scott Farine of Pasta Too in Bethel Park.
• A decadent dessert created by Ms. Yurkovich.
A Symphony of Food is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Friday at Bella Sera by Greco's, 414 Morganza Road in Cecil. Tickets are $65 and must be reserved in advance by phoning 724-941-5513 or by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Information is also available at www.womenofswpa.org. If the event is full, reservations will be taken for a waiting list.
Dave Zuchowski is a freelance writer.