SC CIVIC ASSOCIATION'S PROGRESSIVE DINNER - FOR THOSE WHO LIVE TO EAT
The Sea Cliff Civic Association's Progressive Dinner, the always popular annual fall event that introduces participants to both fine food and fine people as they make three stops on their jaunt through the village, attracted nearly 200 participants last weekend. The group was apportioned more or less equally among four homes for appetizers, and then further separated into groups of six to ten as they moved on to the dinner course that was prepared and served by 22 different hosts. The dinner parties then combined for dessert and drinks at the Sea Cliff Yacht Club.
Some residents have been hosting for years, appetizers one year and dinner others, like Patty and Chris Roberto, who hosted four couples at their home for dinner this year. Others are first timers, with seven new chefs signing on this year.
The experience not only allows residents to meet and get to know new people, but is also educational, providing gastronomes who "live to eat" with new ideas and tips, and for some of us who perhaps only have the culinary skills to "eat to live" with an introduction to the art and joy of cooking, as gourmet hosts explain how they created their "chef d'oeuvre." It can indeed be inspirational, as was the case at the Roberto house, with Chris and Patty explaining their entry into the world of gourmet cooking that began with a cooking class, and describing the process of making a perfectly seasoned and sauteed pumpkin ravioli appetizer and a succulent and delightfully crispy-skinned de-boned Cornish game hen (both amazing!).
As for the social benefits, Sea Cliff resident and long time participant Camille Purcell said, "it's a nice way to meet people, that you might not meet otherwise. Your paths might not have ever crossed."
Diners have no idea where or with whom they will be for both the appetizer and dinner rounds until the morning of the event, when they can drop by the home of Civic Association President Ann DiPietro and her husband Dan to pick up their assignments.
Ms. DiPietro explained that the Progressive Dinner Committee spends about three hours matching diners with each other and with hosts, and gave a good deal of credit to resident Tina Marchese who leads the effort. "We couldn't have the progressive dinner without her," she said.
Relying on spreadsheets going back to 2006, great care is taken to vary matches as much possible from one year to the next, in order to provide a unique experience for past participants by creating a fresh mix of people. "You try to put couples in houses they've never gone to before," explained Ms. DiPietro. "Strangers soon become friends around these hospitable dinner tables with appetizers and desserts cementing the sense of camaraderie."
The event could not, of course, take place without the nearly two dozen families that entertain. "The Progressive Dinner highlights the extraordinary generosity of our host families who open their homes each year providing food and drink to randomly assigned guests," Ms. DiPietro declared.
As fall approaches next year, keep an eye out for hosting information from the Civic Association for this not to be missed event. Mailings go out the first week in October.
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