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West Hartford's Cookin' To Support Its Schools

Local "celebrities" prepare and serve their favorite dishes at this popular fundraiser.

West Hartford's Cookin' To Support Its Schools West Hartford's Cookin' To Support Its Schools West Hartford's Cookin' To Support Its Schools

An esteemed group of chefs will be serving up some special fare in the , all in the name of school spirit. This year’s West Hartford’s Cookin’ fundraiser will be held on Saturday, March 12, and it will honor all 16 of West Hartford’s public schools with a theme of “School Spirit.” The event, which includes a live and silent auction, is a benefit for the Foundation for West Hartford Public Schools (FWHPS).

anchor Brad Drazen, who is a member of the FWHPS Board of Directors, will once again be Master of Ceremonies for the evening. Food will be prepared and served by many familiar faces who are not often seen wearing aprons – West Hartford’s educators as well as business and civic leaders. Mayor Scott Slifka, State Sen. Beth Bye, and Superintendent of Karen List are among the more than 30 celebrity chefs who will be serving up their favorite dishes.

Town Councilor Shari Cantor is planning to make “a yummy gooey bar of some sort.” Past favorites have included Angelo Faenza’s sliders and Rob Rowlson’s kugel. Mayor Slifka, who will be donning his apron once again, said he is looking forward to the fundraiser. “This is a very unique event that I look forward to participating in every year. I love seeing the surprise on someone’s face when they actually enjoy the dish that I served,” Slifka said.

List agreed and said: "I am making Tomato Basil Tarts. People tell they come back to this event to (of course) support the Foundation for WHPS, but also for my tomato basil tart (recipe courtesy of Mary Bissell). I love this event. It is great to
see so many people enjoying themselves and making a contribution to an
organization that gives teachers and children the opportunity to enrich the
curriculum through innovation, creativity, and guests who spark interest
and ideas that have sometimes been untapped."

Amy Cubbage and Lisa Greene are co-chairing the event for the second year in a row. “This event draws people from all over West Hartford to support public education in West Hartford,” Cubbage said. The committee has solicited a fabulous array of themed baskets from all of West Hartford’s public schools. “With ‘school spirit’ serving as a theme, it has really pumped up the ‘competition’ from all of the schools,” said Lisa Mahoney, publicity chair for the event.

Mahoney told me that the event, which is now in its ninth year, usually nets $40,000-$50,000, and she anticipates a similar result this year. “We have gotten some really strong sponsorship this year,” Mahoney said. Major sponsors include Bank of America, Bob’s Discount Furniture and the Kaufman Family, , Central Connecticut Neurosurgery & Spine, Falvey Linen, Gengras Motor Cars, , and . Wine and other beverages are being provided by Rogo Distributors and Wine Cellars 4.

West Hartford’s Cookin’ is the major fundraiser for the , which provides grants for “unique and exceptional educational opportunities” for West Hartford Public School students. The FWHPS is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, which allows education-minded individuals and family foundations the opportunity to make tax deductible contributions to a meaningful cause.

The FWHPS awarded nearly $75,000 in grants for the 2010-2011 academic year, and board members are very excited as they approach the $1,000,000 level in total grants awarded to teachers and schools. A list of all the grants made can be found on their website, and current grants include funding for programs such as “A to Z With the Alphabet Man,” “CHEM 4 Kids,” “A Celebration of Hispanic Culture Through Music,” and “Bending Reluctant Readers’ Ears Through Audiobooks.” The FWHPS has also funded a special initiative grant for the at , and a multi-year grant for the Suzuki Violin Pilot Program at the town’s three preschools.

Clare Dowd, President of the FWHPS Board of Directors, calls the West Hartford’s Cookin’ event “a community celebration of excellence and dedication to our public schools.”

“It’s casual, and it’s like a big fun cocktail party or block party with great food,” said Mahoney. The event is scheduled for early in the evening (6:30 p.m.-9 p.m.), leaving time for attending other events. “You could even go out to dinner afterwards,” said Mahoney, but I don’t think anyone will be hungry after this event.

For more information, contact the FWHPS at 860-561-8755 or visit their website www.fwhps.org.

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