MIDDLETOWN: GIVING FUTURE CHEFS A BOOST

032114 recipe for success correctChefs from more than 30 local restaurants impressed guests at last year’s “Recipe for Success” at the Navesink Country Club in Middletown. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

Chefs representing more than 30 Red Bank-area restaurants will be cooking to impress the gourmet-minded for a good cause again this year.

Now an annual event at the Navesink Country Club in Middletown, the Joseph Romanowski Culinary Education Foundation fundraiser will host restaurants, wine and spirit merchants and hundreds of discerning palates with a taste-tempting exposition on Monday, March 23.

032114 recipe for success3A chocolate fountain with marshmallows and other dip-ables was just one of the several desserts featured at last year’s event. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

Raising scholarship funds to educate future chefs, the foundation was set up to honor Joe Romanowski, co-owner along with his wife, Maggie Lubcke, of Joe and Maggie’s Bistro in Long Branch and Bay Avenue Trattoria in Highlands.

An outstanding culinary influence in our area, Romanowski died in 2013, inspiring a group of friends along with his widow to continue his passion for mentoring future chefs. Two $5,000 scholarships to the Brookdale Culinary Education Program were issued to students from the proceeds of last year’s fund raiser.

Romanowski “was an example of everything I strive to be in my culinary career,” says Chris Atamian, chef at Fresh Restaurant in Highlands. “His creativeness and attention to detail elevated his dishes to a level of true perfection.”

Atamian, who worked beside Romanowski for seven years, adds that in addition to one-of-a-kind cooking techniques, he learned from Romanowski that “success doesn’t come easy,” which is one reason he says he’s “honored to help young chefs begin their careers in honor of the legacy Joe created.”

The event features signature dishes from 30-plus of the area’s finest eateries – including Ama, the Bistro of Red Bank, David Burke Fromagerie, D’Jeet, the Raven and the Peach and Salt Creek Grille – along with wine and spirit pairings, live entertainment, a silent auction and a live auction hosted by Townsquare Media radio host Big Joe Henry.

Tickets may be reserved here.