School district recognizes chefs, organizers of Around the World dinner

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OCEAN CITY — Featuring international cuisine prepared by a wide variety of local chefs, the annual scholarship fundraising dinner at Ocean City High School is among the highlights of the school’s fall season and on Wednesday, Jan. 23 it was one of the highlights of the local school board meeting.

The Dining Around the World event was more than just a little bit impressive, Superintendent Kathleen Taylor said as she recognized various chefs involved with the event and its organizers, Mary Maguire and Joan Vicari-Fulton. This year, the seventh annual event raised over $4,500, which will go towards scholarships for graduating seniors.

“We want to recognize and thank them for their efforts and dedication,” Taylor said of the chefs. “We are so appreciative.”

She said that a number of the participating restaurants had been “wiped out” by Hurricane Sandy, but the chefs found the time and the money to prepare a dish to benefit the students.

“They do it every year and they do it so well,” Taylor said.

In “The Prophet” by Kahlil Gibran, the author wrote, “You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.” Taylor said that pretty much sums up the chefs.

The chefs, she said, signify “Jersey Strong” as do Maguire and Vicari-Fulton.

“Thank you Mary and Joan for organizing it every year,” Taylor said. “It always goes well and you always add your special touch.”

The event had to be postponed due to Sandy, and Taylor said it meant even more this year when it finally happened on Nov. 15.

Each chef was presented with a certificate and an engraved wooden spoon. Taylor said that students in Bill Nickles wood shop class digitally engraved each spoon.

Joe Massaglia, chef and owner of Mama Mia’s in Seaville and Egg Harbor Township, said the dinner would not happen without the combined efforts of the chefs, school officials and students.

“I could not do it without you,” he said. “People make it happen. You have to give in order to get. That’s what I have been doing for many, many years.”

Massaglia said it was a proud moment to be among his fellow chefs in tough times as the community began to heal from the devastation. He said he felt an obligation to give back to the community and the school district, which helped educate his three daughters and one son.

He said he was particularly grateful that some of the chefs participated in spite of serious complications from the storm.

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