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A royal affair: Food was king at Atlantic Cape gala (PHOTOS AND VIDEO)

Joe Mikitish of Cherry Hill serves oysters and clams at the raw bar during cocktail hour Joe Mikitish of Cherry Hill serves oysters and clams at the raw bar during cocktail hour ATLANTIC CITY — Guests were treated like royalty at 29th annual Atlantic Cape Community College Restaurant Gala Thursday, March 22 at Bally’s Atlantic City Hotel and Casino.

Each year the members of gala board and the Atlantic Cape Foundation work together with the students to put on a food extravaganza that raises money for Atlantic Cape scholarships. This year, the gala raised $140,000 toward the cause.

Fittingly, as this year’s theme was “Dine Like Royalty,” trumpeters welcomed guests to cocktail hour where there was no shortage of a selection of appetizers all prepared and served by Academy of Culinary Arts students.

Some students were just volunteering for the evening – a chance to network with industry professionals and gain valuable experience. Others had been working hard all week in preparation for the event to showcase their talents.

Before guests were invited to the ballrooms for dinner, Atlantic Cape President Peter Mora, gala co-chair Justine Coyle, Atlantic Cape Foundation President Diane McKoy, gala co-chair Fran Coppola took the stage to honor Deb Pellegrino of Egg Harbor Township.

This year’s honoree, Pellegrino is a 1992 graduate of ACA and the executive pastry chef for Harrah’s. In July, she won a Food Network Challenge with her chocolate kraken. For the gala, Pellegrino prepared the “Gala Signature Dish” — a gluten-free flourless cheese torte with nuts.

Mora, McKoy, Coyle and Coppola presented Pellegrino with a plate from Tiffany’s in honor of her achievements.

ACA chef Kelly McClay then introduced the students who helped to make the gala possible this year.

The Don’t Call Me Francis Band, Sensational Soul Cruisers, Ocean City Pops and Lenny Mitchell kept guests dancing throughout the evening, even in line as try tried a variety of dishes from over 50 local restaurants including Luke Palladino, which served up a savory beet risotto, The Foundation Room, which served a frozen lollipop mai tai, and Mama Mia’s, serving a gluten-free gnocchi.

Guests were treated to a dessert spread fit for a king, headed by master pastry chef Eugene Ess of Trump Taj Mahal, and a life-size “extreme” cake prepared by Toni Walton of Haddon Heights, a former pastry artist at Carlo’s Bakery and cast member on TLC’s Cake Boss. Walton’s realistic swan cake sat in front of a display of other treats, including moon pies, a pistachio crème brulee and ganache-filled coconut macaroons.

Lucky ticket-holders shared in more than $11,000 in prizes at this year’s gala 50/50 raffle. The winners include: first prize, $6,720, Roy Foster of Hammonton; second prize, $3,360, David Forsman of Seaville; and third prize, $1,120, Janet Stepura of Petersburg

Winning amounts were based on the number of tickets sold. This year, 224 raffle tickets were sold at $100 each, netting $11,200 for grants, emergency aid and leadership development for Atlantic Cape students. The gala has raised more than $2.7 million for scholarships and Atlantic Cape Community College Foundation operations in its history.

 

Don Marrandino, eastern division president for Caesar’s Entertainment, and Atlantic Cape Foundation President Diane McKoy introduce Harrah’s executive pastry chef Deb Pellegrino, honoree at the 2012 Atlantic Cape Restaurant Gala.

 

Harrah’s executive pastry chef Deb Pellegrino, honoree at the 2012 Atlantic Cape Restaurant Gala.

Chef Kelly McClay, dean of the Academy of Culinary Arts, introduces the students of ACA who helped to prepare and served the food at the gala.

Denise and Christopher Moschella of Galloway, representing South Jersey Industries, and Ava and Steve Cocchi of Linwood Denise and Christopher Moschella of Galloway, representing South Jersey Industries, and Ava and Steve Cocchi of Linwood Academy of Culinary Arts students Erin McManamy of West Deptford and Deanna Weiand of Linwood serve hors d’oeuvres. Academy of Culinary Arts students Erin McManamy of West Deptford and Deanna Weiand of Linwood serve hors d’oeuvres. Trumpeters announce the start of presentations by Atlantic Cape Community College officials. Trumpeters announce the start of presentations by Atlantic Cape Community College officials. Frank Faverzani and Cape May County Freeholder Sue Sheppard of Ocean City enjoy cocktail hour. Frank Faverzani and Cape May County Freeholder Sue Sheppard of Ocean City enjoy cocktail hour. ACA graduate and Harrah’s executive pastry chef Deb Pellegrino of Egg Harbor Township is this year’s gala honoree. ACA graduate and Harrah’s executive pastry chef Deb Pellegrino of Egg Harbor Township is this year’s gala honoree. From left, Atlantic Cape President Peter Mora, gala co-chair Justine Coyle, Atlantic Cape Foundation President Diane McKoy, gala honoree Deb Pellegrino and gala co-chair Fran Coppola. Pellegrino is presented with a plate from Tiffany’s. From left, Atlantic Cape President Peter Mora, gala co-chair Justine Coyle, Atlantic Cape Foundation President Diane McKoy, gala honoree Deb Pellegrino and gala co-chair Fran Coppola. Pellegrino is presented with a plate from Tiffany’s. Atlantic Cape Foundation President Diane McKoy presents Atlantic Cape President Peter Mora with a check for $140,000, which will be used for scholarships to the college. Atlantic Cape Foundation President Diane McKoy presents Atlantic Cape President Peter Mora with a check for $140,000, which will be used for scholarships to the college. The Academy of Culinary Arts students line up in front of chef Kelly McClay, as she introduces them. The Academy of Culinary Arts students line up in front of chef Kelly McClay, as she introduces them. Mark and Deb Pellegrino of Egg Harbor Township enjoy the gala. Mark and Deb Pellegrino of Egg Harbor Township enjoy the gala. Christine Caraballo of Dennis Township and Jabias Lucy of Vineland serve hors d’oeuvres. Christine Caraballo of Dennis Township and Jabias Lucy of Vineland serve hors d’oeuvres. Jack and Marie Grillo of Egg Harbor Township are dressed like royalty. Jack and Marie Grillo of Egg Harbor Township are dressed like royalty. Audrey Annunziatto of Cape May Court House, Maria Kellett of Wildwood, Shawn Lockyear of Wildwood, Joan Lockyear of North Carolina and Fran McEvoy of North Carolina don fascinators keeping with the gala’s theme “Dine Like Royalty.” Audrey Annunziatto of Cape May Court House, Maria Kellett of Wildwood, Shawn Lockyear of Wildwood, Joan Lockyear of North Carolina and Fran McEvoy of North Carolina don fascinators keeping with the gala’s theme “Dine Like Royalty.” Tim and Nicole Frazier of Smithville try out Tito’s Vodka, an American vodka featured at the gala. Tim and Nicole Frazier of Smithville try out Tito’s Vodka, an American vodka featured at the gala. The Soul Cruisers kept guests dancing all night long. The Soul Cruisers kept guests dancing all night long. Birlly Disla of Atlantic City and Andrew Halper of Egg Harbor Township serve out lasagna for Carmine’s of Atlantic City. Birlly Disla of Atlantic City and Andrew Halper of Egg Harbor Township serve out lasagna for Carmine’s of Atlantic City. Don’t Call Me Francis perform in the blue ballroom. Don’t Call Me Francis perform in the blue ballroom. Chefs at The Foundation Room prepare frozen mai tai lollipops. Chefs at The Foundation Room prepare frozen mai tai lollipops. Luke Palladino’s of both Northfield and Atlantic City serves a savory beet risotto topped with nuts. Luke Palladino’s of both Northfield and Atlantic City serves a savory beet risotto topped with nuts. Luke Palladino’s of both Northfield and Atlantic City serves a savory beet risotto topped with nuts. Luke Palladino’s of both Northfield and Atlantic City serves a savory beet risotto topped with nuts. The Washington Inn of Cape May serves shrimp bouillabaisse with melted leaks and fennel. The Washington Inn of Cape May serves shrimp bouillabaisse with melted leaks and fennel. The chefs at Trump Entertainment Resorts enjoy serving ahi tuna with a jicama slaw and wasabi emulsion. The chefs at Trump Entertainment Resorts enjoy serving ahi tuna with a jicama slaw and wasabi emulsion. TGuests stop by the Deauville Inn of Strathmere for the mother loaf. Guests stop by the Deauville Inn of Strathmere for the mother loaf. The Smithville Inn of Galloway served up fried tomatoes. The Smithville Inn of Galloway served up fried tomatoes. At the Ebbitt Room of Cape May guests enjoyed oysters. At the Ebbitt Room of Cape May guests enjoyed oysters. Linwood Country Club serves smoked tuna with cucumber and oven-roasted tomato salad. Linwood Country Club serves smoked tuna with cucumber and oven-roasted tomato salad. Mama Mia’s of Seaville and Egg Harbor Township serves gluten-free gnocchi. Mama Mia’s of Seaville and Egg Harbor Township serves gluten-free gnocchi. The girls of Resorts hand out bubbling cocktails. The girls of Resorts hand out bubbling cocktails. Ocean City Chamber of Commerce President Brian Broadley enjoys the evening. Ocean City Chamber of Commerce President Brian Broadley enjoys the evening. There was no shortage of dancing. There was no shortage of dancing. There was no shortage of dancing. There was no shortage of dancing. There was no shortage of dancing. There was no shortage of dancing. There was no shortage of dancing. There was no shortage of dancing.


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