Goshen News, Goshen, IN

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August 18, 2012

Chefs raise money for family aid agency

NAPPANEE — The invitation went out to “Come to the Table” and the community responded when a capacity crowd showed up for the progressive dinner in the newly renovated Upper Room Banquet Facility at Coppes Commons.

The farm to table dinner auction was a fundraiser for Family Christian Development Center in Nappanee and everything, except the tablecloths, was donated.

“We are just delighted and overwhelmed at the response. We are pleased to have sold out, but it is hard to turn people away,” said FCDC Executive Director Karen Sherer Stoltzfus.  

There was a waiting list in the event of cancellations.

As people waited in line on a balmy evening, discussion bounced around from excitement to being there to support FCDC, to anticipation about seeing the renovated banquet room, to tasting the different chef’s offerings.

Chef’s community

In the chef’s staging area in the back everything seemed to be running according to recipe — the chef’s stations were lined up according to their place on the menu’s course and folks from Parkview Field — Home of the Fort Wayne Tin Caps — were on hand to make sure things went smoothly.

A 12-course progressive dinner was on the menu for attendees and as each course was to be served, the 304 plates for the next course were lined up, ready to go and chefs and restaurant staff were pitching in to help.

Zach Lucchesee of Lucchesee’s Italian Restaurant in Elkhart had Chef Jack Bone and Catering Coordinator Amber Hart with him. They were preparing Mediterranean Meatballs in a crème sauce.

Zach said he was asked to be a part of the event by another participant.

“When I heard who was involved — there were several chefs I really respect,” he said. “I felt it was a good opportunity to be included.”

Lucchesee said he was involved in a similar event at Christiana Creek, “but it was more of a booth tasting than a progressive dinner like this.”

According to organizers, it was that buzz around the chef’s community that got several of them on board to participate.

Nappanee native Dustin Mattern of Mattern’s Butcher Shop & Corner Deli in Goshen was serving barbecued pulled pork sliders. “A mini version of what we serve in the deli” he said.

Mattern said they smoke their own pork and this batch was smoked for nine hours and they have their own “secret” ingredient rub. Mattern confirmed that the farm-to-table concept is to take locally grown and produced ingredients prepared by local chefs and served on your table. The pork he used came from an Indiana farm, the cabbage is from Clay Bottom Farms and the oil from The Olive Branch.

“I’m excited to be a part of a farm to table event on this scale,” he said. Mattern’s parents, Bill and Cheryl, were there to help.

Margaret Potuck, Happy Dance Cupcakes in Goshen, provided one of the desserts — an assortment of four cupcakes including crème brulee, chocolate peanut butter, cookies and cream and strawberry lemonade. Potuck will soon be celebrating her one-year anniversary and was excited to be a part of the event.

“This is my first time at Coppes. It’s a beautiful building, so gorgeous!” she said.

The Upper Room’s debut with its air of rustic elegance was a hit and the gentle strains of the hammered dulcimer music provided by Ted Yoder as guests arrived added to the ambiance. All of the present occupants of Coppes Commons contributed in some way to the event, either by providing parts of the dinner or by providing donations for the auction.

Attendee Meredyth Wollmann said she came to the event because she was a former employee of FCDC who just retired in January. “My heart is with FCDC”, she said.

Wollmann said she also contributed and volunteered for a number of years at FCDC and has been watching the renovation at Coppes, too.

“I’ve been so excited to see the development of the Coppes Center so to see something like this happen here is very exciting,” she said.

Event Coordinator Barb A’Hearn got a little choked up with emotion when asked to share her thoughts on the event.

“What a tremendous outpouring of support from all the communities around FCDC,” she said. “Everyone we asked said yes. We can’t say thank you enough.”

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