Food, Wine, and a Good Cause

5 Oct

If you didn’t know, I love Best Buddies.

Teresa Plunkett a member of the Duquesne University chapter paired with Chef Ola Mandley, has been involved for over 4 years and lives in Allison Park

Kids with down syndrome, autism and other intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) have less chance to form one-on-one friendships outside of their families than their non-disabled peers. This follows them into adulthood, where it can lead to a life of loneliness and isolation.

This makes me sad. If you know anyone with IDD you know that they are often some of the most genuine people you ever meet. Thinking about anyone lonely hurts my heart, but somehow the plight of children and adults with IDD really moves me. There is no “It get’s better” for a lot of these people.

That’s why I love Best Buddies. Best Buddies advocates for social inclusion for people with  intellectual and developmental disabilities with one-to-one friendship and leadership development programs in middle and high schools and colleges in Western PA. College buddies are often paired with adults at any age, providing an opportunity for socialization and friendship sorely needed.

What does this have to do with two other things I love, food and wine?  Glad you asked!

Best Buddies is bringing its premier event, the Life is Sweet Chef’s Showcase to Pittsburgh!  Yessssssss!

What: This event pairs a local chef with a buddy (an individual with IDD). Together they create a signature dish which will be featured, along with several other selections by the chef, at the Life is Sweet event.

 Thursday, October 20, 2011 at the
Society for Contemporary Craft in the historical Strip District
VIP hour from 6pm-7pm
Event 7pm-10pm.

Andrew Schnepp, paired with Chef Chaz Smith attends Pine Richland High School, lives in Gibsonia

So there is amazing food, created by buddies and chefs, wine and beer and….can you believe there is more…. works of art created by pairing local artists with buddies!

LOCAL ARTISTS Robert Huckestein, Laurie Trok,  the Milestone center and Linda Van Gehuchten all  paired with buddies to create works of art that will be auctioned off at the event.  I want one. Art is wonderful, but art with a story is even better and this is a story that really moves me!


If you attend the VIP Hour reception you get:

  • Linda Van Gehuchten and her buddy will be doing a wood turning demonstration
  • Special wine and cheese pairing donated by local sommelier Kevin Slane from Wine 101
  • A VIP Goody bag including a bowl turned by Van Gehuchten

Auction items include a Booze Wagon sponsored in part by Clique Vodka, signed Steelers’ memorabilia, and great dinner date packages.  Whirl Magazine will be photographing the event!

Wait…a BOOZE WAGON??? Yes, a booze wagon. Step off. I’m winning that.

Participating Chefs Include:

  • Chef Chaz Smith, The Culinary Artists Gourmet Catering Group
  • Chef Steve Hughes,  Bistro to Go
  • Olafemi Mandley, Ola Appetit Catering
  • Laurie Harris, Independent Pastry Chef representing First National Bank

There will also be cupcakes created by the Best Buddies Chapter that creates the best cupcake in the Best Buddies Cup Cake Wars!

Are you coming??  I’ll be there!  I’ll be at the VIP Hour, because you know I’m not missing a wine and cheese pairing.  And look, if you buy two, IT’S A DEAL. You know I’m not passing up a deal.

JD Keller paired with Pastry Chef Laurie Harris, a member of the University of Pittsburgh chapter and has been their Buddy Director for 4 years! Buddy Directors are individuals with IDD who is part of the chapter leadership team


Individual Ticket $60.00
VIP Ticket $75.00
(VIP hour includes a live artist demonstration, VIP gift bag, and an exclusive wine and cheese pairings)
Couple (2 tickets) $100
VIP Couple $130
“Virtual Table” 10 ticket $500
VIP “Virtual Table” 10 tickets $650
Dress Code: Business Attire

Reserve your tickets on the best buddies website here

Sponsorship Opportunities Available
For more information contact: Mahogany Thaxton
E | P | 412.432.5913
Best Buddies can can create sponsorship packages to meet your corporate giving needs.


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