By Arielle Dollinger
Tables traced the outline of the room, their respective chefs behind them, as the Family Service League hosted its Great Chefs of Long Island event at Crest Hollow Country Club on Nov. 10.
Several dozen restaurants – including nine Town of Huntington establishments – prepared small plates to serve to ticket holders at the charity event. Family Service League, established in 1926, raises funds through events like this one to provide services to families across Long Island. Last week, the league honored Avalon Bay Communities with the Corporate Leadership Award, Family Service League Board of Directors member Katharine Posillico McGowan with the Community Leadership Award, and Jewel Restaurant owner Tom Schaudel with the Restaurateur Award.
Though “it's always nice to be honored,” Schaudel said, for him the important part of the event is participating.
“I just think it's imperative that people who have had some success in life or on Long Island... [it's] sort of important that they lend a hand to people who are less fortunate,” he said.
Schaudel has lived on Long Island for 61 years and currently resides in Jamesport. His first restaurant venture was Huntington's Panama Hatties, which he opened in 1983. He now owns several restaurants, including Melville’s Jewel.
“I've seen a tremendous amount of generosity in the people of Long Island,” he said. “I'm proud to be a very, very small part of it.”
The restaurant community as a whole, he said, is probably “one of the more generous out there.” And this event in particular is one of his favorites, he noted.
“It's just a fun coming-together of the restaurant/wine community,” he said.
The Jewel table served grilled marinated shrimp with chorizo, butternut squash and a Romesco sauce – a Spanish sauce whose base typically consists of nut and red pepper.
At Prime’s table, Sergio Posillico and Executive Chef Ben Durham plated individual pieces of butternut squash ravioli, their arms crossing each other’s as they drizzled brown butter and grated parmesan. Each piece of ravioli, filled with bright yellow butternut squash and topped with brown butter and sage, freshly-grated parmesan cheese and walnuts, is an explosion of fall flavor. With its subtle sweetness, the pasta dish could easily hold a spot on a dessert menu.
Alexis Garcia and Executive Chef Tito Onofre of Huntington village’s Jonathan’s Ristorante were serving a similarly autumn-esque ravioli. The duo plated pumpkin ravioli with butter and sage, sprinkling each piece with amaretti cookie dust and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Warmed by the yellow of butter, tiny white plates held individual ravioli pieces. Relatively large, the pumpkin ravioli is hearty and substantive.
Later, for dessert, Garcia and Onofre prepared a pumpkin panna cotta with a maple glaze, topped with a fresh blackberry – a dessert that now legitimately has this Foodie thinking about crossing the street from the Long Islander News office to Jonathan’s on a nightly basis.
Representing Mill Pond and Piccolo, Andrew Crabtree and Miguel Villatoro served foods in rich browns and greens. A basin of dark beige porcini mushroom soup sat alongside the makings of Veal Osso Buco Parfaits. The parfaits were served in cups whose clear sides revealed the stratification of brown and yellow-orange layers.
Closer to the end of their table sat cups of Baby Kale Caesar Salad. Balanced by parmesan shavings and creamy dressing, the baby kale tastes green in a good way.
Behind a table dressed in a red table cloth and decorated by a skeleton doll, Mercedes Castro and Andrew Czegledi served Besito Mexican’s Ceviche, as well as tortilla chips with guacamole. The Huntington village restaurant is known for its guacamole, which is made tableside so that diners can watch as their waiters and waitresses slice open and de-pit avocados and add the requested amount of heat. On this particular night, the guacamole was spicy enough to incite a visit to the beverage table.
Also represented at the event were Huntington's Storyville American Table and Tutto Pazzo. Storyville owner and Executive Chef Brian Finn, along with the restaurant's Mike Wallace and Thomas “T.C.” Curry, handed out Mardi Gras beads and served such colorful dishes as Shrimp Remoulade. Tutto Pazzo's table featured a tray of appetizers on toothpicks.
Huntington Station’s Cinque Terre, which has opened at the former Panama Hatties spot on Jericho, took a table in the room as well, and the town’s Angelic Delights Catering catered the VIP reception. The list of participating wineries and distributors included Cold Spring Harbor Wine Shoppe.
There was a buzz about the room as restaurateurs serving dinner dishes transitioned to desserts and adults walked around the room holding ice cream cones. Empty dishes clanked as diners deposited them in black bins headed for the sink. The raffle-entry period came to a close, but wine bottles remained open.