By Jessica Meditz
Queens Centers for Progress will host food lovers in person this year for its 26th annual “Evening of Fine Food.” Hundreds of people will gather together on March 15 at Terrace on the Park for a night of delicious food, live music, comedy and good company — all for a good cause.
“The goal of the event is to raise funds for our organization, which services people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Queens,” said Wendy Gennaro, QCP’s director of Development. “Our mission is to promote the independence of people with disabilities so that they can live their best lives. We raise a good amount of money at the event that goes toward our programs.”
Gennaro said that the second underlying goal of the event is to provide the community with a fun evening and opportunities for networking and promoting local businesses.
The restaurants and businesses that will be featured in the event include Marbella Restaurant, Austin’s Ale House, Bourbon Street, Aigner Chocolate, Café Renis, Havana Central, Javamelts, La Casa de Julia, MadeFresh Organic, Max Bratwurst und Bier, MumsKitchens NYC, One Station Plaza, Schmidt’s Candy and The Wine Room of Forest Hills.
Gennaro said that list could double in size by the date of the event. Rhonda Binda, former Queens deputy borough president and vice president of Government Affairs MSG Entertainment, and Thomas Rudzewick, president and CEO of Maspeth Federal Savings, will be honored as “Chefs of the Year” at the event.
“We select people who have made a difference in their communities in some way, shape or form,” said Gennaro. “Rhonda and Tom are both exemplary people in the community who have served Queens well, either through funding or supporting initiatives in the community.
“They are honorees, but unlike most events where you put them up in front and praise them, we put them in front of a crowd and make them serve food,” she added.
While guests sample food and enjoy an open bar, they will be entertained by DJ Mike Kouros, comedians Suzanne Windland and Usama Siddiquee, magician Apollo Riego and Jim Altamore, a Frank Sinatra impersonator. Although a remote option will be available to guests who cannot attend, Gennaro said the entertainment experience is part of what makes the live event so exciting.
“No one has ever been disappointed with the atmosphere,” she said. “There’s just such an energy to the event that just draws you in, and we work really hard to make that happen.
“We set the bar high every year, we try different things all the time and we always want to make it better,” Gennaro continued. “This year, we have quite the challenge ahead of us, but we’re very excited about bringing it back.”
Tickets to the event are $135 per person, and can be purchased at queenscp.org until March 13.