Best Bud­dies hosts Taste­buds fundraiser

Best Bud­dies Mary­land hosts Taste­buds fundraiser

The Avenue News - - FRONT PAGE - By: LISA HAR­LOW

If you’re look­ing for a night of fine food and drinks, mu­sic and danc­ing, and a chance to bid on fab­u­lous auc­tion items all for a great cause, you’ll be in good com­pany at the Best Bud­dies Mary­land Taste­buds event.

Best Bud­dies is a non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion ded­i­cated to es­tab­lish­ing a global vol­un­teer move­ment that cre­ates op­por­tu­ni­ties for one-to-one friend­ships, in­te­grated em­ploy­ment and lead­er­ship de­vel­op­ment for peo­ple with in­tel­lec­tual and de­vel­op­men­tal dis­abil­i­ties (IDD).

Taste­buds, which will be held on Fri­day, Novem­ber 10 at The Grand Lodge of Mary­land in Cock­eysville, is a unique tast­ing event that fea­tures 18 fine-din­ing restau­rants such as Jimmy’s Fa­mous Seafood, Casa Mia’s, Michael’s Café, Barrett’s Grill, The Cap­i­tal Grille, Fu­sion, Par­fec­tions and LaCak­erie. Guests will en­joy sam­pling chefs’ sig­na­ture dishes while sip­ping on spe­cialty cock­tails, wine, beer and cham­pagne.

Each restau­rant’s chefs will team up with a buddy pair, who serve as the “sous chefs” for the evening. The buddy pair in­cludes one per­son with a dis­abil­ity (Buddy) and one with­out (Peer Buddy).

En­ter­tain­ment in­cludes the mu­sic of Roses n Rust, and Mas­ter of Cer­e­monies is 105.7 The Fan host and Es­sex res­i­dent Rob Long. Auc­tion­eer Bal­ti­more Sun colum­nist Dan Ro­dricks will be auc­tion­ing off a wide range of items, in­clud­ing a six-course din­ner with wine pair­ings pre­pared by Best Bud­dies Board of Direc­tors mem­ber Michael Paul Smith.

“Michael Paul is a ter­rific per­son and a great com­mu­nity leader. What I didn’t re­al­ize is what a tal­ented chef he is. This will be his third auc­tion, and over the past two years the din­ner has av­er­aged $3,500 each year,” said Vince Fiduc­cia, State Di­rec­tor of Best Bud­dies Mary­land.

Smith, an Es­sex res­i­dent, is a part­ner with the re­gional law firm Smith, Gildea and Sch­midt, LLC, head­quar­tered in Tow­son, and he has been on the Best Bud­dies Board of Direc­tors for more than three years. Smith’s daugh­ter El­lie, 20, has Cere­bral Palsy and has been in the Best Bud­dies pro­gram for about a year.

“I re­ally be­lieve in the mis­sion of Best Bud­dies, and that is how I got in­volved. El­lie was a tremen­dous in­flu­ence on the life of my older daugh­ter and her friends. She helped shape who they are,” said Smith. “Best Bud­dies pro­grams are so im­por­tant not only for the child with dis­abil­i­ties, but for the peer buddy as well. It helps the child with no lim­i­ta­tions ap­pre­ci­ate who they are and learn to grow. I know how im­por­tant those re­la­tion­ships are.”

Through­out the globe, Best Bud­dies has eight for­mal pro­grams Best Bud­dies Mid­dle Schools, High Schools, Col­leges, Cit­i­zens, e-Bud­dies, Pro­mot­ers, Jobs and Am­bas­sadors which pos­i­tively im­pact over 900,000 in­di­vid­u­als.

“Par­tic­i­pants cre­ate a one-on-one friend­ship and their goal is to see their buddy once a month do­ing some­thing they both en­joy, whether it be sport­ing events, movies or just hang­ing out at each oth­ers’ houses. In ad­di­tion, they need to reach out at least one time a week with a call or a text or on Face­book or other so­cial me­dia,” said Fiduc­cia.

“It’s a sim­ple con­cept. With­out friend­ship, how do we de­velop? How do we get our so­cial­iza­tion skills? We would be iso­lated and alone,” he said.

“Af­ter kids grow out of the 18-21 pro­gram, what’s next? There is a lot of so­cial iso­la­tion for adults with IDD that our pro­grams can help ad­dress. Jobs al­low peo­ple with IDD the op­por­tu­nity to make money, en­joy free­dom and gain the con­fi­dence that maybe they could one day live on their own,” said Fi- duc­cia, who said there is an 81-84% un­em­ploy­ment rate for peo­ple with IDD. “Guests com­ing to this event will get to see for them­selves how won­der­ful our par­tic­i­pants are and that they would make great em­ploy­ees.”

Smith of­fered to auc­tion the din­ner for Taste­buds be­cause he has al­ways loved to cook. “It started with my grand­fa­ther on my mother’s side who thought it was very im­por­tant that I learned how to cook, and then with my un­cle on my fa­ther’s side who was a chef,” said Smith.

Af­ter he grad­u­ated from col­lege, he was given the gift of cook­ing classes. Smith stud­ied un­der Jerry Pel­le­gri- no, ex­ec­u­tive chef at Corks and Water­front Kitchen and the owner of cook­ing school Schola.

While he en­joys whip­ping up all types of eth­nic cuisines, he most en­joys Span­ish and Ital­ian cook­ing be­cause of their strong, bold fla­vors. Smith will work with the win­ners of the auc­tion to cre­ate a menu that fits their tastes in both food and wine.

Some of the cour­ses from last year’s din­ner in­clude grilled duck with blood or­ange sauce, toasted pine nuts and parsnip puree with black truf­fle oil ac­com­pa­nied by Bur­gundy; seared an­chochile espresso-rubbed beef ten­der­loin with caramelized win­ter root veg­eta­bles ac­com­pa­nied by Caber­net Sau- vi­gnon; and gourmet vanilla ice cream with home­made Caber­net Sauce.

“You can have a great dish and a great bot­tle of wine, but if they don’t go well to­gether, that’s all you have,” said Smith. “When you care­fully pair the wine with your meal, you can go from a great meal to a re­ally spec­tac­u­lar ex­pe­ri­ence.”

“Taste­buds helps fund our mis­sion of friend­ships, jobs and lead­er­ship de­vel­op­ment for peo­ple with in­tel­lec­tual and de­vel­op­men­tal dis­abil­i­ties in Mary­land,” said Fiduc­cia. “I hope ev­ery­one will come out and sup­port this great event and meet some of our Best Bud­dies who ben­e­fit from our pro­grams.” Best Bud­dies Mary­land hosts “Taste­buds”

Fri­day, Novem­ber 10, 2017 from 7:00 – 11:00 PM

The Grand Lodge of Mary­land

304 In­ter­na­tional Cir­cle, Cock­eysville, MD 21030

Tick­ets $100.00 each. Free Park­ing at venue.

For tick­ets and more in­for­ma­tion, go to https:// www.best­bud­dies.org/taste­budsmd/pur­chase-tick­ets/.

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