The Dinner Party Project Comes To New York City


Fifth, seventh and eighth grade students from three schools in New York City during an intensive hands-on five week period this spring and summer learned about good nutrition, food safety, meal planning, how to set a table, etiquette, and the basics of cooking, all in preparation for putting on a formal dinner as part of The Dinner Party Project.

Each of these dinner parties had different themes: the celebration of the summer harvest, an international feast, and La Fiesta, a bi-lingual class's graduation party.

Sponsored by the not-for-profit Spoons Across America, an organization which is the source for children's culinary education, The Dinner Party Project, according to Jared Brown, the attorney and a national spokesperson for Spoons, "Planning the event deepens the student's understanding of the value of community, family, teamwork, and sharing, while building self-esteem and having fun."

Brown said that since 1995, Spoons Across America has taught more than 20,000 school children in classrooms, green markets, restaurants, and related venues in programs such as The Dinner Party Project, AIWF Days of Taste, New York, and On The Farm.

Students from The Child School on Roosevelt Island partnered with Bill Yosses, executive chef of Josephs Citarella, to present a Celebration of Summer Harvest as their Dinner Party Project, August 11 at The Institute of Culinary Education (ICE) in Manhattan.

Five weeks prior to the party, students learned to plan all aspects of their dinner with Chef Yosses and event planner Laura Stanley, senior editor, Martha Stewart Kids and Martha Stewart Weddings. The students selected their guests, sent out invitations, coordinated the menu and on August 11th, prepped the meal, cooked and served it successfully and with great pride, Brown said.

The Child School, Brown, explained, was established in 1973 to enable children with learning disabilities to achieve their maximum development. In a highly structured, family-like atmosphere.

In June, fifth graders from P.S. 282 hosted an international dinner with global influences. The guests included students from the University of Paris at Evry, France, who were studying "Brooklyn as a Tourism Destination" at the New York City College of Technology/CUNY. Teaching the students at P.S. 282 in Park Slope, were Jean Claude, chef instructor, from Haiti and consulting chef Liz Schaible, a professor of hospitality management, both from New York City College of Technology/CUNY. The students cooked fajitas, pasta primavera with chicken, Caesar salad, and desserts from around the world, with American chocolate cake as the centerpiece.

Another graduation celebration as part of The Dinner Party Project had fifth graders in a dual-language class at Manhattan's P.S. 162, team up with the executive chef of Gracie Mansion, Feliberto Estivez. The menu featured guacamole, prepared by the class, together with salad, beef fajitas, grilled chicken and yucca. The students worked together with the chef, their teacher Ms. Perla Wanda, community volunteers and The Dinner Party Project coordinator Lynda Dias, a professor of hospitality management at the New York City College of Technology/CUNY.

A partner in the Manhattan law firm of Brown and Guilbert, Jared Brown is a founding member of the Board of Directors of Spoons Across America and is a national spokesperson. Before he became a lawyer, Brown served as a Narcotics Parole Officer, and is a former president of the New York State Parole Officers Association. One of his duties as president was mentoring new trainees. Brown's interest in helping children began while he was a student at Denver University in Colorado and was active as a volunteer tutor for inner city children.

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Joyce Appelman, PH: 516-482-1016

Jeanne Wilensky, PH: 718-435-5569