Southern Flavor Will Enhance ‘A Night at the Derby’

Hunger Relief Dinner/Auction Menu Plans Are Out of the Gate
By MARIA SCANDALE | Apr 22, 2019

Manahawkin — A peek at the menu for “A Night at the Derby” is a taste of the way chefs from nearly a dozen area restaurants will present the flavor of the famous horse race. A prize-studded auction and derby decor are more attractions of the event May 1 at The Mainland at Holiday Inn, Manahawkin.

But it’s also the cause that has brought people out for 24 years now – the themed gourmet gala has raised more than $1 million for food pantries serving Southern Ocean County. The nonprofit Hunger Foundation of Southern Ocean holds the fundraiser, “dedicated to a community where all of our neighbors are free from hunger.”

Starting at 5:45 p.m., experience the hats, horses, jockeys, juleps, flavors and Southern hospitality of the Kentucky Derby. Taste Dinner Chairman Ian Smith previewed the menu as working to “capture the flavors of Churchill Downs and Lexington for the evening.”

Smith is a culinary arts instructor at the Ocean County Vocational Technical School’s Culinary Arts Training Center, located at Cuisine on the Green at Atlantis Golf Club in Little Egg Harbor. Each year, he organizes chefs from area restaurants to donate their talents in presenting a stellar multi-course menu.

The chefs are in the starting gate, even though it’s not a competition. The following restaurants and food service businesses that signed on include: Antoinetta’s; Buckalew’s; Cuisine on the Green; Daymark; The Grapevine; Johnny Ocean Enterprises; The Mainland at Holiday Inn; Octopus’s Garden; Plantation; Sea Oaks Country Club; Surf City Hotel.

First off, the cocktail hour is closer to an hour and a half. Think of a food layout in a prerace tailgating spirit, as Smith suggested.

“You’ll be able to experience the Hot Brown, which is unique to the Brown Hotel,” he said, referring to the hot open-faced sandwich that is a famed Louisville tradition that started in the 1920s.

Other Southern specialties will be bourbon meatballs; ham and biscuits; waffles and chicken; Benedictine sandwiches; fried oysters and deviled eggs; pimiento cheese sandwiches. One will be neck-and-neck as tasty as the next.

“We’re looking at smoked barbecue brisket, and Kentucky burgoo, which is a classic Southern stew – ours is going to be made with chicken and sausage, and served in a martini glass,” Smith continued.

The menu continues full speed to the entree segment. The dishes are treats that Northerners long for after they’ve tasted Southern cooking.

“We’re going to have a course of shrimp and grits, a Lexington salad, and a duo of beef and pork tenderloin with two types of sweet potato,” Smith listed.

At the finish line will be a Viennese dessert table.

Event attendees can be dressed for the occasion by attending in Derby attire.

“The ladies will be wearing their best derby hats, and the Mod Hatter from Beach Haven will be selling hats at the event,” said Peg Reynolds, a board member of HFOSO and an organizer and supporter of the fundraiser. Decor will include beautiful flowers and lots of derby memorabilia to celebrate the event, she said.

Businesses and individuals who want to donate items or gift certificates for the auction still have time to do so. They can be dropped off at Reynolds Garden Shop, on East Bay Avenue in Manahawkin.

Tickets to A Night at the Derby are $200.

There are three ways to purchase tickets: on the website; call 609-789-5570; or mail checks to 297 Route 72 West #270, Suite 35, Manahawkin, N.J. 08050.

— Maria Scandale

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