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Celebrity chefs draw crowd to Southington fundraiser

SOUTHINGTON — Four celebrity chefs demonstrated how to make tasty appetizers, meals, and drinks Sunday afternoon at the Aqua Turf Club during the Food as Art fundraiser.

From 10 a.m. to noon those who bought tickets enjoyed a private Sunday brunch and a signature cocktail made by Food Network chefs, “The Hearty Boys.”

Starting at noon, a larger crowd visited vendors to try cookies, cakes, chocolate, cheese, pasta, bread and other offerings. Live demonstrations were also done throughout the day by Dan Smith and Steve McDonagh of “The Hearty Boys,” chef Kevin Cottle, a 2009 runner-up from the TV show “Hell’s Kitchen,” and fellow “Hell’s Kitchen” finalist Susan Heaton.

Proceeds went to the Calvanese Foundation and the Record-Journal’s Literacy Program.

“The response from the brunch was great and what we had hoped for,” said Kathy Reinhard of the Calvanese Foundation. “I think it’s been a great day, everyone has been enjoying themselves.”

Heaton, who flew in from California, showed the audience how to make a marinated pork loin, braised purple cabbage, and a sweet potato puree.

“I was looking forward to coming out here,” Heaton said. “Everyone is wonderful.”

She was impressed with the community support for the two charities.

“It’s awesome,” she said.

Cottle demonstrated how to make a petite clambake. Cottle’s father was a fisherman on Cape Cod and his mother was a chef.

“We used to do clambakes as kids,” he said.

Debbie Shapiro, of Southington, was with her friend Peggy Dudley, also of Southington. They enjoyed the first two demonstrations by Heaton and Cottle and were looking forward to the last one of the day by The Hearty Boys.

“I would make the sweet potato puree,” said Shapiro of Heaton’s recipe.

“I thought the event was amazing,” said Dudley. “It’s not what I expected.”

The Hearty Boys, who came from Chicago, showed the audience how to make a Monkey Gland drink made of gin, orange juice, and grenadine. McDonagh focused on drinks that were made during Prohibition and told stories about them.

“This is why old cocktails are so much fun,” said McDonagh. “They have a story.”

After making the drink, Smith created a bar snack made of different kinds of cereal and spices that were bound together by melted butter and cooked in the oven.

“It’s a balance of salty and sweet,” Smith said. “I think everyone loves salty and sweet.”

In between the demonstrations by the celebrity chefs, other vendors, businesses and restaurants held their own shows.

Douglas Fitz, a sous-chef at the Farmington Club, was stretching and pulling fresh mozzarella. He showed people how it starts as curd, gets chopped into smaller cubes, put into a stainless steel bowl, adds 160 degree water, and then starts stretching it. After it’s done, it has to go into ice cold water to keep its shape.

“You can make it into any shape,” Fitz said.

Shapiro and Dudley were happy with the event and thought it was a fun and different way to spend Sunday.

“We went to the displays and tried all the samples,” Shapiro said. “It was really nice that the vendors were local.” (203) 317-2212 Twitter: @FollowingFarrah

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