Our Highlights

A Change You Can Taste

The Start of Serving Up Smiles

“What an amazing event!” I absolutely love hearing those words from our guests. It makes all of the stressful and tedious months of planning well worth it. It also usually means that the inevitable behind the scenes mishaps went unnoticed. Event planning is an art, and when done correctly it leaves your guests energized and inspired – filled with good food and goodwill. There are so many things you can do with event planning, you can take it through many avenues to appeal to your intended audience, it even gives a chance of brand awareness and promotion. We thought about making custom shirts, jumpers, and hats at various events because it gives that connection, and people seem to love them! So if you want to do something like this for your own event then try here and see what you can get personalized to have that edge.

Serving Up Smiles

Executive Director Michele Hall-Duncan and VP of Special Events Giselle Miller welcome our 2015 MC Chef Roblé Ali along with Chef Barrett Beyer, and Chef Chris Nirschel

But for me, it’s work. It’s the exact reason why I ask my guests about the food, the wait staff, the seating, and the cocktail hour. I never experience the event in the way a guest does and that is why I love other organization’s events. I always learn something new and leave feeling totally energized. It’s where I can become inspired and confirm that what we are doing at our own events is working, or not.

For 25 years, our organization held its signature Celebrity Sports Auction. It was once an incredible night out, packed with celebrities and athletes whom you’d just seen on television, the court, or the field the night before. During the live auction portion, tickets to the Sports Illustrated swimsuit party easily raised several thousand dollars and autographed sports memorabilia would garner bidding wars right down to the final second.

Serving Up Smiles

Our 2015 Serving Up Smiles Chefs with Board Chairman Jeffrey Gural

But in recent years, athletes began to reserve appearances for their own charities, better deals for memorabilia could be found online, and many celebs began to charge for their time. The event was also labor intensive, leaving staff exhausted and spent. It was time for something new. Giselle, our VP of Special Events had been watching the ever growing tasting event trend. She, an avid foodie, lover of Italian wines and high end chocolate, was intrigued by the idea.

Serendipitously, I was invited to attend the Red Cross Red Ball, a highly anticipated event held yearly to benefit Red Cross House in Philadelphia. Decked out in a red(ish) dress, I arrived at the Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia.

The Red Cross does so much to help people in need. One of my friends from Canada has recently completed a first aid course with one of their partners – C2C First Aid & Aquatics Inc. If you’ve always wanted to know how to perform CPR you can attend a First Aid Training Mississauga course or one closer to home and learn life-saving skills.

Serving Up Smiles

Michele at the Red Cross Red Ball

Back to the event now though and there was table after table representing
some of the best restaurants in the area, great libation stations and dessert displays that gave you a toothache just looking at them. And the music, it was everywhere – a DJ in the beer garden, a guitarist in the VIP lounge and the main band in the center hall. Ladies decked in red and their dates whirled around the dance floor. I ate, I danced, I took pictures with people I had just met, rode the Ferris wheel, and bought raffle tickets. And then ate some more. In other words, I had a blast! I didn’t want to leave. And I kept thinking… we need to do an event just like this!

Back at the ranch, my team and I plotted our departure from the beloved auction. We listed all of the elements that would ensure a successful event. Great food was a must, as well as a great band. We wanted a venue that was open and airy with room for guests to mingle and signature cocktails for guests to enjoy. We’d keep the silent auction and tweak it to provide more lifestyle items and less sports memorabilia. We’d call the event Serving Up Smiles which fit perfectly with our organization’s tag line. We’d even have a logo designed just for the event. But first – we needed chefs. Starting with our board of directors we began to reach out to connections to gauge interest. Our volunteers, board and staff brainstormed and reached out to contacts in the culinary world. And the rest is history…

Serving Up Smiles

Chef Roger Gural of Arcade Bakery with father and Board Chairman Jeffrey Gural

Our inaugural Serving Up Smiles event was held in October of 2015 at Current at Chelsea Piers with an amazing view of the Hudson River. Over 250 guests enjoyed wonderfully prepared dishes from Bouley, Butter, Brushstroke, Nobu, Robert and more. I had fallen in love with the band we chose, Live Wire Entertainment, at yet another nonprofit event. In addition to the open bar, four amazing signature cocktails were available and the desserts were unbelievable.

Transitioning from the Sports Auction to Serving Up Smiles was no easy feat. It took a lot of work from all parties involved. But all of the blood, sweat, and tears that went into the transition paid off, as the event raised nearly $220,000 for our programs while filling the stomachs and hearts of every guest in attendance. The positive feedback from our board, staff, and supporters was incessant. We knew we hit the nail on the head and created a new favorite event for years to come.

Serving Up Smiles

Guests wined and dined all evening

Our second annual Serving Up Smiles will take place on Monday, October 24th at Current at Chelsea Piers. This year’s event will be hosted by “Culinary Bad Boy” Chef Chris Nirschel, who attended last year as one of our chefs. Butter, Robert, Bryant Park Grill, City Bakery, and Arcade Bakery are back this year and we’re thrilled to welcome Jewel, Ben and Jack’s Steakhouse, Buns Bar, Cowfish, Melt Shop, Kellari, El Toro Blanco, Café 2 and Terrace 5 at MoMA, Melt Bakery and Carlo’s Bakery to the fun.

We’d love for you to join us for an evening of wining and dining with some of New York’s hottest chefs and see what all the buzz is about!

Purchase your tickets here – you definitely don’t want to miss this!

Serving Up Smiles

Serving Up Smiles

Serving Up Smiles

Serving Up Smiles

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