Queens Centers For Progress Presents Claire Shulman Spirit Of Community Award, Honors Chefs Of The Year

The celebratory gathering will further recognize two Chefs of the Year who have made a difference in their communities.

By: Mar. 08, 2022

Queens Centers For Progress Presents Claire Shulman Spirit Of Community Award, Honors Chefs Of The Year

This March 15, Queens Centers for Progress will bring together hundreds of people for an "Evening of Fine Food," an annual testament to community, resilience, and the value of giving.

The 26th annual event will present its first-ever Claire Shulman Spirit of Community Award, and welcome a dynamic, new partner, Grubhub, which this year is treating needy Queens families who cannot attend to an evening of delightful dishes - virtually.

The celebratory gathering will further recognize two Chefs of the Year who have made a difference in their communities and Queens in addition to honoring the legacy of the late Queens Borough President Claire Shulman, a past "Chef of the Year" and supporter of the event and QCP.

"Claire Shulman was always delighted to attend our 'Evening of Fine Food' and welcome guests; her joy was infectious, because she recognized that while this event was only for one night, its impact would last well beyond that," said QCP Executive Director Terri Ross. "There is no one who embodies the spirit of the Queens community more than Claire Schulman did. We could not imagine this event without her, and selfishly, this is our way of making sure she is here with us every year going forward."

"We are especially delighted to have Drew Kerr as the first recipient of the Claire Schulman Spirit of Community Award," said QCP Director of Development Wendy P. Gennaro. "Mr. Kerr's dedication to spotlighting members of the Restaurant Community in a unique and intimate way has significantly supported the hospitality sector during the pandemic. He gave both his heart and his hand to keep the needs of our restaurants in the public's mind, and we are extremely grateful to him for this wonderful project.

Drew Kerr is the Founder of the Queens Chef Project, which spotlights the culinary community amid the pandemic, showcasing the stories of chefs and restaurant owners to highlight their experiences and to encourage New Yorkers to visit their establishments.

"In her 16 years as borough president, Claire put Queens residents and businesses first, especially cultural institutions," said Queens Chef Project creative director Drew Kerr. "In the same spirit of Claire, I am honored to put a spotlight on the people who are like our second families, the chefs and food workers of Queens."

Claire Shulman's daughter, Ellen Baker, thanked QCP for the recognition. "My mother was, and remains, the spirit of community in Queens," Ellen Baker said. "I am certain she would be very honored by this tribute and award, because she dedicated her life to encouraging others to show their community spirit. Thank you for this recognition. We congratulate Drew Kerr on this honor, and wish QCP a successful event."

The benefit also will honor two "Chefs of the Year"- people who have made an impact and a difference in the community: Rhonda Binda, Vice President, Government Affairs and Social Impact, Madison Square Garden Entertainment Corporation, and Thomas Rudzewick, President and CEO, Maspeth Federal Savings. In addition to being honored, they will serve their community in a different way - by cooking a family specialty!

"What an honor it is to be QCP's Chef of the Year and support this exceptional organization. Your contribution to QCP is a recipe for delivering unparalleled services, with great dedication, to the developmentally disabled community," said Rhonda Binda, Vice President, Government Affairs and Social Impact, Madison Square Garden Entertainment Corporation. "Please support QCP generously as they truly make a difference in so many lives here in Queens."

"I am honored to serve as Chef of the Year to help the Queens Center for Progress. People should support this vital organization because it assists so many with developmental challenges. Generosity is an inspiring aspect of human nature that enables our neighborhoods, communities, and the world at large to survive and thrive! I am glad to participate in an event that supports the life changing work of the QCP," said Thomas Rudzewick, President & CEO of Maspeth Federal Savings.

This year, QCP also sought to create an opportunity to treat others who could not attend the Evening of Fine Food in person. Thanks to a substantial grant from the Grubhub Community Relief Fund, QCP will be able to provide 50 hunger-insecure families within its network and affiliated with the Variety Boys & Girls Club in Astoria with $100 Gift cards to enjoy meals (during or after the event, which they can watch livestreamed, too!)

"Queens Center for Progress is doing amazing work by providing opportunities for people with disabilities to make meaningful choices in their own lives - a mission that Grubhub firmly stands behind. By supporting QCP and other organizations, we look forward to continuing to advance progress in the community," said Brett Swanson, Head of Community Affairs and Social Impact at Grubhub.

"Since our inception, community has been core to our mission, and collaborating with Grubhub illustrates this commitment," said Wendy Gennaro. "We applaud their commitment to supporting causes that address food insecurity in Queens and for supporting the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, which kept many of our neighborhood establishments alive during the pandemic. We thank Grubhub for ensuring that families, particularly those struggling to put food on the table, are able to enjoy this event even if they could not be with us in person."

The event - presented from 6:30 to 8:30 pm. - raises funds to support the longtime organization's programs and services, assisting more than 1,200 individuals with developmental disabilities to lead more independent lives. Though last year the event was held by Zoom due to the pandemic, this year it's back in person!

Tickets are $135 per person. Guests are asked to R.S.V.P. by March 13. Tickets and further details are available at https://queenscp.givecloud.co/qcpfinefood.

The festivities will include an exceptional and engaging dining experience featuring culinary delicacies from the finest restaurants and beverage purveyors in the area. As guests mingle, sample gourmet foods, and enjoy an open bar, they also can enjoy Comedians Suzanne Windland, Magician Apollo Riego, Jim Altamore performing the songs of Frank Sinatra, and the sounds of DJ Mike Kouros of Bravo Sound. And guests can participate in the silent auction and take "selfies" in a Le Selfie photo booth. Skye Ostreicher of City & State joins the evening as a special guest and emcee.

Participating food vendors include: Aigner's Chocolate, Annam Brahma, Arepalicious, Austin's Ale House, Bourbon Street, Buzz'd Express Coffee, Café Renis, Eat Gai, Frank Macchio & Family, Havana Central, Isa's Cake, Javamelts, La Casa de Julia Restaurant & Bar, Lessing's Hospitality Group, MadeFresh Organic, Malki Palki (Kosher). Marbella Restaurant, Max Bratwurst Und Bier, MumsKitchens NYC, One Station Plaza, Philly Pretzel Factory Forest Hills, P's Baking & Catering Services, Inc., Remy's Italian Restaurant, Rudy's Bakery and Café, Schmidt's Candy, Shanghai You Garden, Stop & Shop, Symphony Importers, The Nourish Spot, The Wine Room of Forest Hills, Trini Bites, Vassilaros Coffee Company, Veeray da Dhaba, Woodro Kosher Deli and Woops! Macarons & Corporate Gifting.

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, Council Members James Gennaro, Linda Lee and Shekar Krishnan, and Assemblyman David Weprin are among the elected officials in attendance.

This year's fundraiser boasts a robust group of sponsors, including Grubhub, a leading global food delivery marketplace. Because of their generosity, QCP will provide families faced with food insecurity with Gift Cards so they can order dinner through Grubhub and enjoy the show virtually.

Among the other amazing sponsors are: Veronica Tsang (Diamond Sponsor); Gerald J. Caliendo, Architects, Long Island Employee Benefits Group, Maspeth Federal Savings & Loan, and Mutual of America (Golden Delight Sponsors); D & F Development Group, Flushing Bank, Resorts World, New York Community Bank, and, Merritt Engineering (Silver Spatula Sponsors); MJM Architects PLLC, Mr. T Carting, The Rotary Club of Flushing, and Investors Bank (Bronze Grill Sponsors); Greenberg Trairig, SafeTech Security and TotalCareRX , and Zara Real Estate (Entertainment Sponsors); and, BDO, Koeppel Auto Group, Law Office of Donna Furey, and Raymond Chan Architect, P.C. (Selfie Sponsors).

For more information visit www.queenscp.org.