Night of nosh: Top chefs promise to please palates at fundraiser

Courtesy photo / The 10/09 Kitchen crew of Bedford is pictured here from last year’s March of Dimes Altoona Signature Chefs Auction. Chef Nick Letzo (far left) was voted favorite chef for the last three years.

More than a dozen of the region’s best chefs again will be cooking up a storm for this year’s March of Dimes Signature Chefs Auction in Altoona on Nov. 20 at the Blair County Convention Center.

“This is a great — and delicious — event that brings together lots of talented chefs serving up awesome food to support a very worthwhile cause,” said Zach Lorber, chef at Penn State Altoona’s Port Sky Cafe and lead chef of this year’s event. “Where else can you have a 14-course meal, with live music and fun, in support of a great cause?”

More than $82,000 was raised last year and, “we would like to exceed that number this year,” said event co-chair Michelle Passarello.

Tickets are $75 each or $750 for a table.

Lorber said confirmed menu offerings include Blackened Shrimp and Grits by Chef John Clickner II of Gigi’s Southern Table in State College; Venison and Bacon Meatballs by Chef Kirk Kapis of Altoona Grand Hotel; Roasted Filet of Beef Medallions with Cornichon Tarragon Sauce by Chef Keith Auker of UPMC Altoona; Braised Beef Cheeks with Cauliflower Puree by Chef Zach Ford of U.S. Hotel; Chicken Milanese with Pesto Grilled Russet, Wilted Spinach, and Slow Roasted Roma Tomato by Chef Tom Schilling of the Blair County Convention Center; Homemade Potato Gnocchi by Chef Michael Passanita of Passaniti’s; and Autumn Panzanella Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash by Chef Heather McCloskey of the Southern Allegheny Chefs Association.

Lorber had not confirmed his own menu item, waiting for other chefs to make theirs, including those from Bill Sell’s Bold, Fasta & Ravioli Company, Saint Francis University, Sheetz and Sheetz Coffee and Sweet Marie Sweets. Additionally, Chef Nick Letzo of 10/09 Kitchen in Bedford is expected to defend his crown as “Top Chef,” which he has held for three years, Passarello said.

In addition to voting on the best chef, patrons will be able to participate in live and silent auctions. Prizes include an autographed jersey of Pittsburgh Pirate Gregory Polanco, chef packages, romantic dinners and vacations.

Mirror Staff Writer Cherie Hicks is at 949-7030.

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If you go

What: March of Dimes Signature Chefs Auction — Altoona

When: 5 p.m. Nov. 20

Where: Blair County Convention Center

Admission: $75 each or $750 for a table

Tickets/More info: www.SignatureChefs.org/Altoona

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