By Donna Cornelius
Les Dames d’Escoffier International’s Birmingham chapter, an organization of more than 70 female leaders in food, beverage and hospitality arts, has scheduled its 2020 fundraiser for Oct. 18.
LDEI Birmingham usually hosts a big, in-person party called Southern Soirée, but this year’s fundraiser will look and feel different because of coronavirus precautions. The chapter is hosting Champagne & Fried Chicken, a drive-thru event at which patrons can pick up a picnic dinner basket for two that will be filled with food, a bottle of champagne and some fun extras.
Optional craft cocktails created by two of Birmingham’s premiere cocktail makers – Rachael Roberts of Atomic Lounge and Laura Newman of Queens Park – can be purchased separately.
“This year’s fundraiser dinner again promises Southern fare with a French twist in a unique curbside experience,” said Dame Kathy G. Mezrano, president of the Birmingham LDEI chapter and chair of Champagne & Fried Chicken.
A virtual store of specialty items will include art, books, a three-day juice cleanse from Farm Bowl + Juice Co., virtual cooking classes, wine tastings, and dame-led experiences similar to those that have been part of the fundraiser’s silent auctions in previous years.
A new feature this year is a raffle. Two packages each will include 12 $100 gift cards from restaurants around the city, including OvenBird, Satterfield’s, El ZunZún, Gianmarco’s, The Bright Star, Hot and Hot Fish Club and other restaurants. Each ticket is $25.
Event tickets, raffle tickets, specialty items and cocktail add-ons are available for purchase online at ldeibirmingham.org.
Additionally, the first 100 cars in line to pick up their baskets will be treated to an extra: a bag of Naughty But Nice Kettle Corn, which specializes in small-batch, artisan-style sweet and salty kettle popped corn. The company’s owner, Tanesha Sims-Summers, received LDEI Birmingham’s Entrepreneur Award two years ago.
One important thing remains the same – net proceeds will support LDEI’s work to lift up Alabama women of all ages. Since the group started its scholarship and grant program four years ago, nearly $60,000 has been awarded to women across the state pursuing a wide variety of food-related and culinary-related careers.
Those women include students attending four-year universities or community colleges, high school students involved in the ProStart program, and female entrepreneurs who are building their businesses. Money also is awarded to local nonprofits making a difference in the community.
For the Oct. 18 event, ticket-holders can drive through the Market at Pepper Place, 28th Street and Second Avenue South in Birmingham, from 2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tickets are $150 for a basket that serves two people.
The menu includes:
• Southern fried chicken.
• New potato salad with shallot vinaigrette and fresh herbs, prepared by Dame Kathy G. Mezrano of Kathy G & Co.
• Kale salad with Snow’s Bend organic fall vegetables and dried fruits, prepared by Dame Ashley McMakin of Ashley Mac’s using produce from Dame Margaret Ann Snow of Snow’s Bend Farm and Southern Organics.
• Corn muffins, prepared by Dame Brittany Cheatham, pastry chef of Satterfield’s.
• Biscuits, prepared by Dame Jennifer Yarbrough of Crestline Bagel Co.
• Fresh pear and cheese.
• French sable cookies, prepared by Dame Becky Satterfield of Satterfield’s and El ZunZún.
• Vegetarian baskets are available.