With infectious good humor, spirited bantering and palette-pleasing panache, celebrity chefs from the cast of ABC’s Emmy Award-winning “The CHEW” inspired more than 740 guests to generously raise more than $1 million, a record-shattering figure, for student scholarships at the 10th annual Saint Martin’s Gala.
A total of $1.6 million was raised and all proceeds are earmarked for student scholarships, as is the tradition of this signature fund-raising event at Saint Martin’s. The black-tie celebration also attracted the largest number of attendees – from the South Sound area and beyond – in the history of the Gala for its special anniversary.
Held Saturday, Nov. 7, on the University campus in Lacey, the Gala featured “The CHEW” celebrity chefs: Mario Batali, one of the most recognized and respected chefs in the United States; Michael Symon, an award-winning culinary giant best known as an “Iron Chef;” Carla Hall, best known as a competitor on Bravo’s “Top Chef” and Clinton Kelly, who is also an entertaining expert for the TV show. Healthy living expert Daphne Oz, the fifth cast member, was unable to attend the Gala because of the recent birth of her second child. But she extended her good wishes for the success of the event via a specially made video presented to the audience.
RC Smith, warm-up comic for “The CHEW,” and Jeff Stokes, of Stokes Auction Group, led the Gala celebration. Food stylist Jackie “Sparkles” Rothong was also on hand to keep things humming with the delicious food offerings.
At the start of the festivities, student volunteers – who were among the 200 members of Saint Martin’s staff, faculty and students serving as Gala volunteers – rattled and banged pots and pans to get the attention of the crowd before the chefs made a grand entrance, one at a time, from different points throughout Marcus Pavilion. The pavilion had been transformed for the evening into a vividly-colored dining space splashed with sweeping touches of fuchsia, orange, turquoise and a shade of green that evoked “The CHEW’s” green apple logo.
The chefs each walked an extended route throughout the pavilion before taking the stage, which had been custom-designed to include a runway that offered audience members more opportunities to interact with the chefs, as well as providing a new format to resemble a television studio in a nod of respect to “The CHEW” TV show.
Throughout the evening, the chefs offered culinary demonstrations as they prepared a five-course, gourmet dinner that was paired with specialty wines, a live auction and the much-anticipated “Feed-the-Mind” paddle raise aimed at generating scholarship funds for Saint Martin’s students.
Each chef took charge of one to two of the menu offerings, which featured a tuna tartare and frisee salad with candied bacon, by Kelly; butternut squash salad with cider vinaigrette, by Hall; linguine with clams, by Batali; brisket with shallots and potatoes, by Symon and, for dessert, mini baked Alaskas prepared by Hall.
The final auction item of the night – three days in New York City with gourmet excursions that would include a private tour of Eataly, Mario Batali’s 50,000 square foot Italian food emporium – originally went for $23,000 before The CHEW cast offered a second trip to fetch a final amount of $46,000 for scholarships.
Several guests had the opportunity to join the chefs on stage, including those whose winning bids landed them on barstools “in the kitchen,” the kitchen area of the stage that was custom-built and donated by Rob Rice Homes. Two lucky bidders also won the chance to work alongside Symon as his sous chefs and received a chef’s coat signed by him.
As in years past, students played a major role in the event. Senior business major Deveney Dela Cruz, who came to Saint Martin’s from her native Saipan in Micronesia, shared her story of success and expressed her gratitude for the financial assistance she has received. “I didn’t want the scholarships that brought me here to be a donation,” she told the audience, “but an investment that I could give a return on.”
Inspired by the student’s remarks, guests “raised their paddles” to make gifts toward the University’s “Feed-a-Mind” scholarship funds. This portion of the program alone raised more than $407,000.
“What a spectacular evening! You are a giving community and you understand the value of investment in our students at Saint Martin’s,” President Roy F. Heynderickx, Ph.D., told the ebullient crowd.
When the chefs arrived on the Saint Martin’s campus earlier in the afternoon, a crowd of enthusiastic, sign-waving students, including three in green apple costumes, gathered at the Baran Drive entrance to welcome them as they cruised by in their vehicle. The chefs then took part in a meet-and-greet event with 100 students in the University’s Trautman Union Building.
During the event, Symon, Hall, Batali and Smith delighted students with stories of how they became chefs and a stand-up comic. In response to a question from senior and engineering major Annabel Warnell, they each talked about the importance of incorporating service into their busy lives and careers.
“Being on television is boring if you’re not using this platform to help somebody,” Hall told the students.
The chairs for the 2015 Saint Martin’s Gala were Armandino ’59 and Marilyn Batali, Rick and Pam Panowicz, and Kathy Lombardo and Fred Wright.
SPECIAL GALA 2016 PREVIEW
This marks the fifth consecutive year that celebrity chefs have headlined the Gala event, as well as the return to the Gala stage by Batali, the celebrity chef for Gala 2011, and Gala 2013 chef Symon. At next year’s Gala, scheduled to take place Saturday, November 5, 2016, at Marcus Pavilion, Saint Martin’s University will introduce a new “Recipe for Success.” In recognition of the University’s world-wide presence, the vision for Gala 2016 and beyond is to feature culinary experts from around the globe and pair them with celebrity foodies to create a dynamic culinary duo. The featured celebrity chef next year is Ligia Karazawa, of Eataly Brasil, who will be partnered with Andrew Zimmern, star of Bizarre Foods. Those interested in attending Gala 2016 are invited to check Saint Martin’s website, www.stmartin.edu/gala, for updates on that celebration.
Saint Martin’s University thanks the following Gala Event Sponsors:
Presenting Sponsor: Bon Appétit
Print Sponsor: Capitol City Press
Stage Sponsor: Rob Rice Homes
Media Sponsor: KCTS9
Gala Reception Sponsor: Merlino Fine Foods
Saint Martin Table Patrons: FORMA Construction; Joe and Liz Williams; Cronk Family Foundation
Wine Sponsor: Palatine Foundation
Saint Benedict Table Patrons: Armandino '59 and Marilyn Batali; Margaret Clapp MBA ’13 Guerci and Friends; Debbie Hodous and Pat Geiger; Gerry and Linda Gallagher; Matt ’94 and Shelley Marcus; Terence ’62 and Mary Louise ’60 Monaghan; Rick and Pam Panowicz; Kathy Lombardo and Fred Wright; Sunset Air; GM Nameplate; ACU America’s Credit Union; WSECU
Saint Gertrude Table Sponsors: Anchor Bank; Armandino '59 and Marilyn Batali; Attila and Katalin Talaber; Barbara and Doug Hiatt; Bill and Jackie Gavin; Caffe Vita, Liz and Mike McConnell; Charles Schwab & Co. Inc.; Chicago Title Insurance Company; Chvatal Law Offices; Dennis and Tedi Reynolds; Dennis and Gloria Martin; Financial Advocates; Hanson Motors Subaru; Heritage Bank; Jack and Luellen Charneski; Jim and Linnea Bremner; John and Michelle Riel; Kathleen O’ Grady; Kathryn Fies; Kathy and Gordon Beecher; Kell Chuck Glass; Ken and Nancy Anderson; KPG Revenue Cycle Manager, Inc.; McGranahan Architects; Metropolitan Market; Olympia Federal Savings; Panowicz Jewelers; Propel Insurance and Moss Adams, LLP; Providence Health and Services; Ragnar Wealth Management, LLC.; Richard and Laurel Seaman; Rob Rice Homes; Saint Martin’s Alumni Association; Seattle Hospitality Group; Simpson Door and Brandner Communications; South Puget Sound Community College; The Rants Group; Timberland Bank; US Bank; Virgil Adams Real Estate; Waite and Patty Dalrymple; Worth Law Group and Armour Vickerman, PLLC; Worth Law Group and Miller Nash Graham and Dunn, LLP
Additional Event Supporters: Chicago Title Insurance Company – Auction Bid Card Sponsor; Hanson Motors Subaru – Valet Sponsor; X Group – Wine Glass Sponsor
In-Kind Gifts: Batdorf & Bronson Coffee Roasters; Caffé Vita; Lucky Eagle Casino, d.b.a Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation; Mareko Maumasi; McKinney Appliance Center; Olympia Olive Oil; Premier Media: South Sound Magazine; Ralph’s Thriftway; Ramada Olympia; Salumi Artisan Cured Meats; Sunset Air, Inc.; Taylor Shellfish Farms; Tiger Oak Media: Seattle Magazine; Zirkle Fruit Company
Saint Martin’s University is an independent, four-year, coeducational university located on a wooded campus of more than 300 acres in Lacey, Washington. Established in 1895 by the Catholic Order of Saint Benedict, the University is one of 14 Benedictine colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, and the only one west of the Rocky Mountains. Saint Martin’s University prepares students for successful lives through its 25 majors and seven graduate programs spanning the liberal arts, business, education, nursing and engineering. Saint Martin’s welcomes more than 1,100 undergraduate students and 340 graduate students from many ethnic and religious backgrounds to its Lacey campus, and 350 more students to its extended campuses located at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Centralia College and Tacoma Community College.
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For additional information:
Office of Institutional Advancement
Saint Martin’s University
Genevieve Canceko Chan
Vice President, Office of Marketing and Communications
Saint Martin’s University
360-438-4332; 360-593-5305; firstname.lastname@example.org