From left, Chefs Wolfgang Geckeler, Willie Lewis and David Goldstein join Golden Nugget Executive Chef Robert Hettmannsperger to show off some of the cuisine that will be offered at the Presidents Scholarship Charity Ball for the The Professional Chefs Association of South Jersey at the Golden Nugget on Sunday, Feb. 23.

Edward Lea

Food can do much more than feed — it can bring communities together for a good cause and help to serve those who are most in need.

The 42nd annual Presidents Scholarship Charity Ball by The Professional Chefs Association of South Jersey will take place 5 to 10 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 23, in the main ballroom at the Golden Nugget Atlantic City. The event runs 5 to 10 p.m. and will include a cocktail hour, a gourmet sit-down dinner and an array of desserts prepared by some of the best chefs in the area.

Dinner, prepared by Golden Nugget Executive Chef Robert Hettmannsperger and his staff, this year will focus on local, artisan vegetables and farm-raised organic meat and seafood. Courses will include a lobster pudding with asparagus and a filet with a demiglaze. The cocktail hour will include specialty hors d’oeuvres, multiple ice carvings, an ice bar and a caviar station.

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The night is more about eating, too, as the party band Cheers will provide entertainment, and a program will be hosted by At The Shore Editor Scott Cronick.

“The great thing about this year is it’s at a place that everybody loved last year,” says David Goldstein, president of the Professional Chefs Association of South Jersey, which is affiliated with the American Culinary Federation. “Our attendance is going to be phenomenal. There’s a buzz. People get excited — now you have this at a place that did it two years in a row. We’ve never had that before.”

Proceeds from the annual charity ball support students and chefs with educational scholarships and grants.

But the mission of the PCASJ goes beyond helping culinary students, Goldstein says. The PCASJ also developed the “Adopt-a-School” program Eating Healthy, where member chefs volunteer as consultants to the program working with the Community Food Bank of N.J., Southern Branch. The PCASJ also works with Sister Jean’s Kitchen and the Boys & Girls Club of Atlantic City, and has worked closely with veterans organizations throughout the region, recently feeding residents at the Veterans Memorial Home in Vineland.

The South Jersey chapter is made up of chef members and culinary students from the shore region.

“We don’t just do scholarships,” Goldstein says. “We do fundraisers to do educational events for our chefs — so that they can progress professionally. We’re helping students, we’re helping professionals, and we’re paying for educational programs. And then we also help other local charities — the food bank, the veterans’ organizations.”

The meal will be followed by an awards ceremony.

“We are the oldest and best culinary event out of all the charity balls,” Goldstein says. “We’re the only federally accredited culinary organization that can issue certifications to chefs. We have real, professional certifications. We set the standard. The ball is an event that brings people together.


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