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Restaurant Gala Committee Celebrates Milestone, Discusses Evolution of Food in Event's History

February 21, 2008

As The Press of Atlantic City Restaurant Gala approaches its 25th anniversary, participants and organizers of this scholarship event gathered to see how gourmet food has changed since the event's inception in 1984

About 35 members of the Gala Steering Committee and the longtime planners of the event being honored at this year's Gala enjoyed lunch and a presentation Feb. 20 at Careme's, the student-run restaurant at the Academy of Culinary Arts. The Gala has raised more than $1.6 million for scholarships to the Academy in its history. The 25th anniversary Gala will be held Thursday, April 3, at the Atlantic City Convention Center.

Chef Kelly McClay, dean of the Academy, gave a brief presentation on how food trends have evolved since the ACA students prepared the first hors d'oeuvres for the Gala in 1984. The Feb. 20 lunch featured a variety of then-and-now combinations, like Steak Tartare versus Tuna Tartare with soy Wasabi vinaigrette; Coquilles St. Jacques is updated with healthier Seared Scallops served over wilted spinach and fennel salad; the traditional Caesar salad gets a modern twist with tomatoes, Kalamata olives, Parmesan twists and crisp pancetta; lunch concluded with a choice of Bananas Foster or the contemporary Chocolate Banana Spring Roll and Bananas Foster Bread Pudding.

McClay said hors d'oeuvres at the first Restaurant Gala included heavier foods like escargot and brioche, petite quiche and stuffed mushrooms. "Chefs today are challenged with how to make healthy, but beautiful and appealing, dishes," McClay said.

Academy students, many of them Gala scholarship recipients, prepared and served lunch.

Tickets are now on sale for the area's premier black tie fundraising event. The annual event celebrates food by featuring hors d'oeuvres prepared by students at the Academy of Culinary Arts and showcasing the specialties of 40 of the area's best restaurants at a progressive dining experience. More than 1,000 community leaders, business people, casino executives and food lovers attended the 2007 event.

Live music by the Melanie Rice Orchestra and an elegant dessert reception will complete the night's events. Attendees will also have the opportunity to win Tiffany jewelry through the Tiffany & Co.'s Keys for a Cause promotion. The event is presented by Commerce Bank. Tickets to the Gala cost $200 per person.

For Gala tickets, order online at or call the ACCC Foundation Office at (609) 343-5674, 625-1111, or 463-4774, ext. 5674.