March of Dimes Rhode Island Names Chef Jonathan Cambra Their 2012 Signature Chef

from left to right: March of Dimes Rhode Island State Director Betsy Akin, Newport Harbor Corporation COO and 2003 Signature Chef Casey Riley, Chef Jonathan Cambra and Gracie's owner and Signature Chef Event co-chair Ellen Gracyalny

from left to right: March of Dimes Rhode Island State Director Betsy Akin, Newport Harbor Corporation COO and 2003 Signature Chef Casey Riley, Chef Jonathan Cambra and Gracie's owner and Signature Chef Event co-chair Ellen Gracyalny

Not everyone likes surprises, but when leaders from March of Dimes Rhode Island recently showed up on the doorsteps of the Boat House in Tiverton to surprise the restaurant’s Executive Chef Jonathan Cambra with an important announcement, cheers and elation ensued. That’s because Chef Cambra was named Signature Chef of the 11th Annual March of Dimes Signature Chefs Auction. The event, a dream evening for “foodies” that will take place on September 20 at Belle Mer in Newport, combines the talents of the region’s leading chefs who prepare their signature dishes to raise funds for R.I.’s tiniest citizens:  its babies.

“I’m honored to be named Signature Chef of this year’s Signature Chefs Auction for the March of Dimes Rhode Island,” said Chef Cambra. “As a father, I can empathize with parents who are grappling with any kind of health challenge facing their children. I’m happy to do anything I can to help families who are struggling with the health of their young babies.”

Prior to joining the Boat House in August 2011, Chef Cambra spent five years as Executive Chef at sister property, Castle Hill Inn where his vision of sustainable agriculture, locally-purchased ingredients, and organic first was prevalent in all of the Inn’s menus. A Bristol native, he trained at the New England Culinary Institute in Vermont, and has long been a fan of perusing local farms and docks for just-picked, just-caught flavors. While at Castle Hill, Chef Cambra was invited to cook at the prestigious James Beard House in New York twice, and was instrumental in the property receiving many national awards and accolades

Boat House Executive Chef Jonathan Cambra comes out of the kitchen to be surprised by the March of Dimes Signature Chefs group

Boat House Executive Chef Jonathan Cambra comes out of the kitchen to be surprised by the March of Dimes Signature Chefs group

“Jon is a remarkably gifted and resourceful culinary professional,” said Casey Riley, Chief Operating Officer at the Newport Harbor Corporation, which owns and operates Newport Restaurant Group, Castle Hill Inn and the Newport Yachting Center Marina and Events. “Just as important, he is a wonderful work partner and—at home—a devoted husband and father.  I am privileged to have him as a friend and colleague.”

Betsy Akin, State Director of March of Dimes Rhode Island and host of the 2012 Signature Chefs Auction, echoed Casey’s comments, adding, “We at March of Dimes salute all our fabulous chefs who give so freely of their time and talents to support our lifesaving mission.  In Chef Cambra, our event co-chair Ellen Gracyalny—owner of Providence’s Gracie’s Restaurant—and the Nominating Committee have selected not only an accomplished chef but also someone who has been a tireless supporter of our work. We are delighted to have Chef Cambra as our 2012 Signature Chef.”

The event, now in its 11th year will be held at Belle Mer in Newport on September 20, 2012 from 6 to 10 p.m. and will feature 26 of R.I.’s finest and most talented chefs.

March of Dimes is a national voluntary health agency whose mission is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. Founded in 1938, the March of Dimes funds programs of research, community services, education, and advocacy to save babies. For more information, visit the March of Dimes Web site at marchofdimes.com or its Spanish language Web site at nacersano.org.

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