29th Annual Atlantic Cape Community College Restaurant Gala at Bally’s Hotel and Casino

By Michele Errichetti

The 29th Annual Atlantic Cape Community College Restaurant Gala at Bally’s Hotel and Casino was a night fit for a king and queen. The gala theme “Dine Like Royalty” featured a lavish decor that took place in three ballrooms complete with trumpeters, ice sculptures and all the bling and pomp and circumstance one would expect from a top notch Atlantic City casino. The night started off with delectable hors d’oeuvres at the cocktail reception prepared by students at the Academy of Culinary Arts with the music of the Ocean City Pops playing in the backround.

The $200 per ticket fundraising event featured mouth watering dishes from more than 50 of the regions most fabulous restaurants like Lobster Francaise, Chile Braised Short Ribs, Beet Risotto Tuscan Style, Local Scallop Ceviche, Mahi Mahi Soft Tacos, Poached Lobster, and an amazing Raw Bar with Clams, Oysters, Crab Claws and Jumbo Shrimp and even Gluten Free offerings just to name a few of the unbelievable choices you had to make. It was a dizzying task. I thought I would need smelling salts just to calm me down. Ok, so I am a little dramatic.

The restaurants had booths decorated like velvet tents where they displayed their lavish dishes for all the guests in a progressive dinner fashion, where you could pick and choose to your hearts content. All the selections were served in creative small plates of every size and shape. I want to have a party just so I can buy some of those cute containers.They were like art pieces. Too bad my handbag was so small.  Restaurants included The Palm, Buddakan, The Continental, Morton’s the Steakhouse, Harry’s Oyster Bar, Renault Winery Resort, Smithville Inn and The Ebbitt Room and Washington Inn from Cape May and whew the list went on and on! Oh yea, I know you want to go next year, I know I do.

The high energy music played while everyone was dining and dancing and was performed by the regional favorites Don’t Call Me Francis and The Sensational Soul Cruisers. The crowd loved them, I loved them too. An elegant Dessert Reception extravaganza headed by Master Pastry Chef Eugen Ess of Trump Taj Mahal, completed the night’s events. Everyone always has room for dessert! My friend and I “forced” ourselves to try some of the extraordinarily beautiful displayed choices. Buttery Poundcake, Mango Mousse Cake, Cream Puffs, Chocolate everything and many, many more. 2012 Gala Honoree and Executive Pastry Chef at Harrah’s and ShowboatChef Deb Pellegrino a 1992 graduate of the Academy of Culinary Arts, was honored by her alma mater. I have included her gluten free Chocolate Cheese Nut Torte Recipe at the bottom.

A highlight for many was the chance to win jewelry and gifts from Tiffany & Co.. What girl in her right mind wouldn’t want a bauble or something shiny from TIFFANY? Also guests had a chance to share up to $15,000 in the Restaurant Gala 50/50 raffle, sponsored by the Atlantic Cape Community CollegeFoundation. What I could do with that!

The event, since 1984 has raised more than $2.5 million for scholarships to benefit students at the Academy and AtlanticCape Foundation operations. The annual black tie event has attracted community leaders, business people, casino executives, food enthusiasts and fun-seekers to come and enjoy the finest showcase of food from some of the best restaurants in the region. See you next year, you don’t want to miss this event!

For more information about the Gala visit www.atlantic.edu/gala.

Michele Errichetti is from South Jersey born and fed. She comes from an Italian family where they eat, live, and breathe FOOD. Michele was cooking and eating under her grandmom’s feet every Sunday for “gravy” and at home with her mother ( a Medigan’ or American) during the week. Nowadays, she cooks for her two sons, husband, and father most days of the week. She takes “Girl Road Trips” with her friends at least once a month that always culminate with you guessed it, FOOD. She hopes fresh, local, organic, and free range will become the norm. Michele is searching Atlantic County for everything that has anything to do with good food and she’s taking you along for the ride.