Coming this week is, in my opinion, one of the best annual culinary events in Rhode Island, the March of Dimes Rhode Island Signature Chefs Auction. Each year, some of the best chefs from the top restaurants in the area get together in one location to each offer a signature dish to the attendees who were smart enough to snap up tickets and support a cause I can’t see anyone not supporting: babies. The March of Dimes mission is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality.
There are 24 participating chefs this year, the most that have ever participated, in honor of this 10th anniversary of the event. They are: Brian Kingsford of Bacaro, Ryan Escude of Centro, David Cardell of Temple, Andrew Shotts of Garrison Confections, Matthew Varga of Gracie’s, Melissa Denmark of Gracie’s, Antonio Franco of Pane e Vino, Karsten Hart of The Inn at Castle Hill, Kevin Gaudreau of The Pier, Kim Lambrechts of Grill at 41 North, David Blessing of Belle Mer, Kevin Thiele of One Bellevue, Christian Pieper of Salvation Cafe, Sai Viswanath of DeWolf Tavern, Champe Speidel of Persimmon, Rizwan Ahmed of Hourglass Brasserie, Raymond Montaquilla of The Coast Guard House, Michael Conetta of Trio, Jules Ramos of 1149, Eric Haugen of The Ocean House, Jonathan Cambra of The Boat House, Chris Kattawar of D.Carlo Trattoria, Ben Lacy of Tastings Wine Bar & Bistro, and Rick Allaire.
The other highlight of the event is the auction. There are actually two, a silent auction which runs during the tasting portion of the evening and then a live auction hosted by Sir Jeremy Bell of Edinburgh, Scotland. The items offered up for bidding are some of the best culinary, accommodation, theater and vacation packages to be found and most are only available at this event. Eat Drink RI has helped put together two of the evening’s items, both unavailable to the general public.
In the silent auction is a Private Tour and Farm Dinner for Twelve hosted at Blackbird Farm by farm co-owner Ann Marie Bouthillette and culinary writer/photographer David Dadekian (yes, the person writing this), with a multi-course dinner highlighting the farm’s meats prepared by Chef Kaitlyn Roberts of Easy Entertaining Inc. Specially selected wine pairings will be provided by The Savory Grape Wine Shop.
What’s even more exciting is the Local Farm & Food Day-Long Tour for Eight item in the live auction. This will be the third year that Dadekian has assembled this package and it’s only gotten better, and more exclusive, each year. Local culinary writer/photographer David Dadekian is your host for a day that begins with breakfast at the home of Ciril & Kylee Hitz, freshly baked for the auction winners by Chef Ciril Hitz, internationally award-winning baker and Department Chair of the International Baking & Pastry Institute at Johnson & Wales University. Hitz’s farm home features a teaching kitchen, which includes a hand-crafted wood-burning oven that is a must see. From there we stop at Four Town Farm in Seekonk for a private guided tour of the farm by owner Chris Clegg, sampling produce that is seasonal that day. Next we visit The Savory Grape Wine Shop in East Greenwich for a private tasting with store owner Jessica Granatiero. In the past Granatiero has poured some of her personal favorites and offered auction winners the opportunity to choose something off the shelves to taste. The fourth stop is at Blackbird Farm where co-owner Ann Marie Bouthillette gives a very lively tour through the barns, cow pastures and chicken coops, while Dadekian cooks up a sampling of their much-talked-about beef. The final destination of the day is Gracie’s in Providence where Chef Matthew Varga will prepare a private tasting menu for the auction winners. Transportation for the day is provided by Arrow-Prestige Limousine and Coach.
These two packages, and many others, are only available at the event on Thursday, September 15, all for a very good cause. Ellen Gracyalny, owner of Gracie’s and co-chair for the fourth consecutive year of the Signature Chefs Auction, said, “This is a true show of collaborative spirit and combined talents for a very important cause. As someone who has been personally touched by the March of Dimes and knows all too well how scary it is when a baby is struggling, it means so much to me that all of these skilled chefs are sharing their gift for cooking in support of this great organization.” For more photos from the event, please see last year’s post-event feature here.
The 10th Annual Signature Chefs Auction is being held at Belle Mer in Newport. It begins at 6 p.m. and tickets are $125. For more information or sponsorship opportunities and tickets, contact the March of Dimes at 401-454-1911 or visit the March of Dimes Rhode Island page.