Upon the invitation of Cynthia Bulaong, one of Connecticut’s top event planners and restaurant promoters,
I attended the Vina Musica fundraiser and Star Chefs Wine Dinner held on May 1st on behalf of Community Music School in Centerbrook for the second year in a row.
Last year, the event took place at the Copper Beech Inn in Ivoryton—this year, it was moved to the grounds of Chamard Vineyards.
Last year, I attended the event with my wife, Ann. This year, I went with our good friend, Martha.
Let me use my copious photographs to tell the story. If you attended the event, even briefly, you will likely find yourself in one of my many photographs.
The approach road was a straight line with vineyards on either side. As you approached the winery, you were undoubtedly stopped by this attractive gal
and directed to suitable parking.
As you ambled from your parking space across verdant lawns, you probably enjoyed this view of the winery.
If you hadn’t visited this winery before, you might have decided to take a peek inside the main structure before heading to the event tent located below it.
Just inside, you would see Chamard’s many accolades
and artwork from other events
on display. You might spot friends, as I did.
This crew is associated with The Mill at 2t, an exciting restaurant in Tariffville, and The Market at Hartford 21, a tremendous undertaking which will become the model for city-based gourmet markets in Connecticut for decades to come.
I would never pass up the opportunity to pose with the lovely Kelleanne Jones,
but here she is with her talented husband, Ryan, one of Connecticut’s premier young chefs.
After mingling with your old friends, you might step up to the counter and taste some of Chamard’s fine wines.
You might then head out onto the porch
and look down upon all of the commotion generated by Vina Musica.
If you then slipped downstairs, as I did, you’d have gotten an impromptu view of wine-making facilities and encountered evidence of the Star Chefs Wine Dinner to follow.
Having seen the winery, you’d be eager to join all of the activity down below. You’d approach
locate the registration table,
grab a wine glass,
and begin to mingle.
You might first decide to fill your goblet from one of the many wine stations.
Then you’d undoubtedly start looking for some food, most of which was on a barbecue theme. You’d find star chefs manning many of the tables, like colorful New Haven chef David Foster,
Ginza Group chef Jared Calderone,
Miya Sushi chef Bun Lai,
and Tyler Anderson of Copper Beech Inn.
You might wander around as I did, taking note of the numerous ways people chose to enjoy their food and wine in this idyllic setting.
You might run into a couple of your favorite chefs hanging out together, like Bun Lai of Miya Sushi and Kevin Cottle, a Hell’s Kitchen runner-up and executive chef of Jordan Caterers in Cheshire.
You probably paid real attention to some of the fine music being played for guests.
Why, you might even have danced.
You probably looked over the various items on display, many destined for the auction.
And before long, it would be time for the actual auction itself, with a little celebrity participation to give it even more juice. Let the pictures tell the story.
The auction would run a little late, the strong wind would start to overwhelm the heat of a setting sun, and a few dozen lucky diners would move into the wine cellar for the Star Chefs Wine Dinner. Martha and I had been careful not to stuff ourselves on all of the temptations outside. Grateful for the V.I.P. treatment, we found our places.
At our places, we found this exciting menu (click to enlarge this, and all, photographs), two courses of which were switched in sequence.
Everyone settled into his and her seats,
and then an avalanche of great food and wine got underway. We began with a high-concept “tuna niçoise” by Ryan Jones of the Mill at 2t,
miso-butter-pecan-crusted Connecticut striped bass with a fennel-jícama-cilantro slaw and a Szechwan cantaloupe nage by Kevin Cottle of Jordan Caterers,
gnocchi with morels, ramps, spring peas and truffle butter by Billy Grant’s crew,
spiced duck breast and a duck confit roll, scallion farro and pickled plums by Copper Beech Inn chef Tyler Anderson,
and rhubarb vanilla pain perdu with mascarpone fondue, orange fennel sorbet and sage blossom syrup by Noel Jones of PolytechnicON20.
As you can see, I wasn’t the only one photographing all of the wonderful food.
Organizer Cynthia Bulaong circulated around the tables, making sure everyone had a great time.
At the end of the meal, the chefs were introduced in each of the two makeshift dining rooms—to enthusiastic applause.
Chamard Vineyards, 115 Cow Hill Road, Clinton, 860-664-0299