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International Chefs, Winemakers Join Forces
To Create Winning Culinary Feat for Charity
The first-ever Winemakers Dinners held July 25-August 2, 2008 in the tiny British Virgin Islands (BVI) gave new meaning to a moveable feast – on a grand scale – spanning eight consecutive days and unique locations and nearly 2,500 gourmet meals. Fifty-five unique courses were prepared by an army of 12 visiting international chefs teamed with four hosting chefs and seven European winemakers, serving more than 600 guests, and topping the event’s fundraising goal by 42 percent.
While fabulous meals might be routine these days, the staging of this marathon event was a marvel of logistics. The master chefs, who included Michelin and James Beard winners, donated their time to prepare the five- to seven-course dinners at private homes throughout the BVI. At each meal, one chef prepared a course with the others acting as sous-chefs. After each course, chefs traded roles, moving from lead to supporting role. The seven visiting winemakers from Germany and Italy paired and then personally poured a total of 888 bottles of each other’s donated wines, as well as contributing special treasures from their personal cellars to be auctioned each evening.
Organizers of the 2008 Winemakers Dinners event, which benefited the BVI Charitable Fund, had set an ambitious fund-raising goal of $100,000. Instead, the combination of an opening Winemakers VIP reception, the dinners and wine auctions brought in more than $142,000 for the charities. All the dinners were sold out and there was a waiting list for each dinner.
“To say I am thrilled is an understatement,” said Ajit Mathew George, managing director of Nail Bay Resort and founding co-chair of Winemakers Dinners, as well as co-chair of the BVI Charitable Fund with the Hon. Ralph T. O’Neal, OBE, Premier of the British Virgin Islands. “Together we created a wonderful, unique event that surpassed everyone’s expectations, not only for cuisine and wine, but in our ability to give back and make a significant difference in our community.”
Co-founder of the event with George is Martin Dindos of OHMS and Allivictus in the Czech Republic, who assembled the winemakers from Europe.
Chefs converged in BVI from as far away as San Francisco; Washington, D.C.; Trier, Germany; and Marseille. Vikram Garg, former executive chef at Little Dix Resort, Virgin Gorda, returned to BVI to serve as executive chef of the entire Winemakers Dinners extravaganza.
“BVI holds a very special place in my heart and to be given an opportunity to help a charitable fund in BVI is something that gave me immense joy and satisfaction,” he explained. “Diners came from not only the Virgin Islands but from the United States and Europe including Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Slovakia and United Kingdom.”
The event also offered an exceptional experience for some outstanding culinary students who accompanied Chef Paul Tinaglia of Kendall Culinary College of Chicago.
“The opportunity to cook in Virgin Gorda with my chef friends was a treat I wouldn't have missed for the world. ‘Dinner Impossible’ was accomplished! Every person who participated in the Dinners gave a little something back to the culinary industry as well as giving a great deal of enjoyment to a lot of giving people,” he said. "When you surround yourself with creative and outstanding people in their field how could you not shine? This was a great opportunity to cook and mingle in one of the most breathtaking places in the world.”
This first-year event attracted a record $106,000 from 32 sponsors, George added. An additional $31,495 was raised from the sale of 166 bottles in the silent wine auctions held at each of the dinners. The highest bid of $2,150 was for a single magnum bottle of rare 2006 Fritz Haag Riesling Brauneberger Juffer Sonnenuhr Beerenauslese. An additional $2,517 was raised from bidders for wines specially bottled for the 2008 Winemakers Dinners. All in all, the 2008 Winemakers Dinners grossed $142,162 for the Charitable Fund and the net proceeds will be distributed to the BVI Red Cross, St. George’s School, Tortola; and St. Mary’s School, Virgin Gorda. The Charitable Fund was started in March 2008 with a $25,000 challenge grant from Nail Bay Resort.
Fresh off the success of the 2008 event, George and Dindos have set dates for the 2009 Winemakers Dinners, this time in two, four-night consecutive sessions: July 16 to 19 and December 3 to 6.
EDITORS NOTE: Attached is a list of participating chefs, winemakers and sponsors. Photos are available on the winemakersdinners website.
* Gerhard Grans, Weingut Grans-Fassian
* Oliver Haag, Weingut Fritz Haag
* Thomas Haag, Weingut Schloss Lieser
* Theo Haart, Weingut Reinhold Haart
* Bernhard Kirsten, Weingut Kirsten
* Lothar Kettern, Weingut Kettern
* Jeffrey Chilcot, Tenute Cisa Asinari dei Marchesi di Grésy
* Chef Roberto Donna, Galileo, Washington, D.C.
* Chef Vikram Garg, American Karma, San Francisco
* Chef Thomas Hannum, Hotel du Pont, Wilmington, Delaware
* Chef Clif Holt, Little Savannah Restaurant and Bar, Birmingham, Alabama
* Chef Alain Ivaldi, Lycée Hôtelier, Marseilles, France
* Chef Christopher Koetke, The School of Culinary Arts, Kendall College, Chicago
* Chef Michele B. Mitchell, Hotel du Pont, Wilmington, Delaware
* Chef Bruce Moffett, Barrington’s Restaurant, Charlotte, North Carolina
* Chef Mark Salter, The Inn at Perry Cabin, St. Michaels, Maryland
* Chef Hubert Scheid, Restaurant Schloss Monaise, Trier, Germany
* Chef Stephen Stryjewski, Cochon Restaurant, New Orleans
* Chef Paul Tinaglia, The School of Culinary Arts, Kendall College, Chicago.
And BVI-based chefs:
· Marcel Driesser, Rosewood Little Dix Bay
· Jermaine George, Biras Creek
· Evan Lee, Bitter End Yacht Club
· Davide Pugliese, Brandywine Bay Restaurant
Nail Bay Resort, OHMS, Alexy Universal Infotech, Allivictus, B-Mobile, BDO Binder Limited, BCQS, Buck’s Food Market, Cable & Wireless, Caribbean Insurers, Caribbean Technology, Cool Air Condition and Refrigeration, Crowley Caribbean Services, Digicel, Double D Charters, EuroCarib, Farara Kerins, FirstBank, FirstCaribbean Bank, Harneys, International Bank, Innua Petrochem Ltd., Island Real Estate, KPMG, Meridian Construction, Minine’s Plants and Landscaping, OBM International, O’Neal Webster, Richard Paverd, Posthell Companies, Michael and Norma Riegels, Douglas Riegels, Roadtown Wholesale Trading, Rosewood Little Dix Bay, Scotiabank, Smiths Gore, Studio Najbrt, Systems Engineering, Tamarind Consolidated, and VP Bank.Gabi Romberg and Bert Houwer and Strongpoint Public Relations.