News: NC Safewater Endowment Fund

Second Annual Endowment Dinner – Raleigh 2017

Thursday, May 3, 2018  
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Originally published in the Winter 2017-2018 edition of NC Currents


The endowment dinner, which has become the chief fundraising mechanism for the endowment committee, was once again a huge success with dinner held in both Charlotte and Raleigh in 2017. In October 2017, the Raleigh event was hosted by Executive Chef Sunny Gerhart of St. Roch Fine Oysters & Bar (223 S. Wilmington St., Raleigh, NC) and featured James Beard Award-Winning Chef, Jason Stanhope. The dinner raised almost $10,000 in net proceeds for the NC Safewater Fund.   


Dinner began with a social hour and hors d’oeuvres. The atmosphere was lively as the crowd sampled baked oysters prepared by Chef Sunny, a preview of the five course dinner with wine pairings that was about to unfold. Many had traveled a long way to enjoy the dinner, including our own Vice-chair, at the time, Ray Cox. Unfortunately, Ray was unable to bring his wife due to scheduling conflicts; however, he brought his daughter Marlee, who is currently in elementary school (5th Grade) in the Wilmington area. She undoubtedly got one of the best treats of her life.   


Dinner began after a brief announcement by Frank Stephenson, Chair of the Endowment Committee, who offered thanks to all the sponsors. Chef Stanhope started us off with a Sea Island Red Pea Pancake with trout roe, crème fraiche, and maple syrup. Delicious! This course was followed by Peach and Jersey Cottage Cheese with benne tahini, purslane, and pickles. This dish looked a little like and had the consistency of grits; and even though cottage cheese is not my favorite, I’ve apparently never had it prepared the right way! The next dish was the hit of the By Chris Belk, PE, Past Past Chair, Hazen and Sawyer evening (IMHO): tomato and yellowfin tuna sandwiches on white bread with sea salt, black pepper, and lots of mayo. Wow! So simple, so fantastic.


This was followed by fromage blanc agnolotti and baked black bass with blue crab, bottarga, coated in breadcrumbs. Let’s just say Chef Stanhope knows how to prepare a fish. This dish was followed by a pavé of Poulet Rouge, winter truffle, chanterelle, soft scrambled egg, in natural jus. Not being as accustomed as I would like to eating the concoctions of the world’s best chefs, I was grateful Chef Stanhope came out between courses to explain how each dish was prepared and what to expect. This last dish, a pavé, was rectangular in shape, like a paver, and was pressed together into a little brick of delightfulness for the tongue. For the final dish of the night – dessert – we were treated to an amazing Fromagina and milk candy custard, with almond brittle and soft whipped crème.


  Because seating is limited, a spot at the dinner can be difficult to obtain; however, the committee limits purchases of seats to association members for the first week. Each year it seems we are getting more members participating as they find out about this unique opportunity to be treated to the creations of world famous chefs while also paying it forward for the water and wastewater industry. Demand for a spot is so keen the remaining seats fill within a few hours after opening up to the general public.   


Thanks are due Linnell Stanhope for organizing the event again this year and of course the Sponsors which included; St. Roch Fine Oysters + Bar, Owner and Executive Chef Sunny Gerhart for donating his restaurant space; Barrique Wine Importer and Distributor for providing the wine pairings; and Trophy Brewing Company for providing the beer.


 In addition, there were several monetary donors: Pepsi Bottling Ventures, Crowder Construction Company, Haskell, Freese and Nichols, and Hazen and Sawyer. Due in large part to last year’s success, the committee elected to hold a second event in Charlotte this year. Congratulations are due to Frank Stephenson for organizing this inaugural endowment dining event for the Charlotte area. The Charlotte dinner is hosted by Executive Chef Luca Annunziata and his wife Jessica of Luca Modern Italian Kitchen (1523 Elizabeth Avenue, Charlotte, NC) and features numerous top industry chefs from the Charlotte area. This dinner is also expected to raise approximately $10,000 for the Endowment Fund. Together with the Silent Auction that was held at the Annual Conference, the Endowment Committee is on track to raise nearly $25,000 this year.  


 Contributions to the NC AWWA-WEA Safewater Endowment Fund ensure the long-term, adequate supply of safe, reliable drinking water through scholarships for students interested in environmental studies and to teachers who introduce environmental issues into their classrooms.


The fund’s goal is to attract and retain industry professionals and to provide environmental education to enhance water knowledge by the public. Please consider donating directly to the fund at the NC Safewater website (see the Scholarship section), participating in one of our fund raising dinners or the silent auction, and perhaps applying or encouraging someone you know to apply for one of our many scholarships.

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