Benefit dinner raises $4,500 for Chautauqua Fund

Amanda Mainguy | Staff Photographer
Chef de cuisine George Kovach places the finishing touches on the fifth course, a USDA Certified angus beef tenderloin fillet over purple hash and zucchini summer squash with mushroom Diane sauce.

The Chautauqua Foundation, in partnership with the Athenaeum Hotel, presented a Farm-to-Table benefit dinner for the Chautauqua Fund in the hotel’s parlor this past Sunday.

The sold-out event, which catered a crowd of approximately 65 guests, raised more than $4,500. The dinner provided a seven-course meal, and served to usher in Week Two and the theme “Feeding a Hungry Planet.”

“I think that’s a testament to the fact that people are really interested in being able to understand how to eat better, buy better, eat local,” said Bruce Stanton, general manager of the Athenaeum. Stanton provided background on the sourcing of ingredients for each course.

Week Two at Chautauqua is sponsored in part by Wegmans.

“We have, in fact, many times sourced some of our products from Wegmans because they deal with local farms,” Stanton said. “But tonight is a little bit of a special collaboration because, tonight, all of the products came from the Wegmans in Jamestown.”

Each course Sunday night was paired with a local wine and, in one case, a local beer from Southern Tier Brewing Company.

The meal began with an amuse-bouche of tuna tartare in endive spoon, accompanied by a sparkling Traminette from Johnson Estates Winery. Prior to the second course of roasted beet and arugula salad, Kevin Komendat, a produce coordinator for Wegmans, talked about the commitment at Wegmans to working with local farms and over 700 local suppliers.

“Local growers have always come to Wegmans,” said Komendat, who has been with Wegmans for almost 40 years. “Sometime back in the mid-to-late ’80s, we asked ourselves, ‘Is there a way to get a better relationship with our growers and our farmers?’ ”

Komendat continued by discussing some of the components of the Wegmans mission.

“We want to be authentic,” said Komendat. “We recognize the need to provide healthier foods for our customers.”

The dinner proceeded with fresh, varied selections, including poultry, salmon, beef, black raspberry trifle and assorted cheeses.

“I am very pleased with the partnership that exists between Chautauqua and Wegmans that has made tonight possible,” said Tina Downey, director of the Chautauqua Fund. “I am also grateful to those who attended our Farm-to-Table dinner in support of the Chautauqua Fund.”