NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

PortWatch

February 13, 2014

A tasty tradition

Organizers prep for Great Chefs' Night fundraiser for Anna Jaques

It’s the dead of winter in New England right now, but the Anna Jaques Hospital Aid Association is thinking springtime in Paris.

Planning is well underway for the 26th Great Chefs’ Night, which this year has a theme of “Ooh-La-La — Great Chefs.”

In addition to food samples from more than 20 local restaurants, the March 21 event at The Governor’s Academy in Byfield will include French wines, artwork displayed in a Left Bank setting, a mime, a caricature artist, a disc jockey and dancing. Silent and live auctions will offer the opportunity to bid on items such as a week in St. Thomas, a kayak, a bicycle, gift cards and tickets to Boston sporting events.

Co-chairwoman Anne Tuthill, who came up with the theme, has even procured a 12-foot-high replica of the Eiffel Tower, complete with lights.

“It’s one of my favorite places,” Tuthill said of France. “It lends itself so well to being easily recognized.”

“We hope to create the ambiance of a Parisian evening,” said Lyn Parker, who is on the public relations committee. “It is truly a community event.”

Coordinating the chefs and restaurants are two “Grand Master Chefs,” Gregg Pugh of Plum Island Beachcoma and Paula Simpson of Carry Out Cafe in Newburyport. Both eatery owners will also prepare food for the event, with Pugh serving mahi-mahi tacos and Simpson embracing the French theme with gougeres, a savory pastry.

“They volunteer a tremendous amount of time and effort to bring the chefs to the event,” Tuthill said. “We couldn’t do this without them.”

Triton High School students also get in on the act, volunteering every year to help bus tables, sell raffle tickets and assist with the auctions.

Pugh, who has served as coordinator “on and off for 12 years,” said he looks forward to the event every year since it gives him a chance to interact with those enjoying his food and to socialize with his fellow chefs.

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