After a two-year break, the highly anticipated Zimmerman-Horowitz Independent Living Program gourmet tasting soiree took place on Thursday, May 12, at the spacious Stave Room on Armour Drive.
Now in its 22nd year, the annual event benefits the Jewish Family & Career Services’ Independent Living Program, an individualized, nonsectarian support initiative that enables people with disabilities to live as independently as possible.
JF&CS CEO Terri Bonoff recalled that at the last tasting event, she had only just arrived in Atlanta and hadn’t yet officially assumed her new position. “I am so proud that we have come full circle here, interwoven in this powerful community, to be part of such an authentic and genuine event where the clients have such a good time and are mingling here,” she said.
Along with a selection of drinks, 19 restaurants, catering companies and their managers — including Aziza and Nur Kitchen — were on hand to greet some 500 tasters and explain their culinary concept. Art and fun experiences were available by silent auction to benefit the program.
“We are thrilled to be here to thank these wonderful vendors, especially the first-time restaurants,” said Honorary Chair Pearlann Horowitz. “I am so grateful that so many support this cause. One of the reasons Jerry and I endowed this program was in consideration of our daughter, who has developmental disabilities. The umbrella organization supports these nonsectarian men and women you see here tonight. Important also is the new generation of caregivers (as many age out) who will be there to serve when the families can no longer care for their loved ones.”
Vanessa Frank and Amy Lewis were also honorary chairs.
JF&CS Chief Administrative Officer Keith Kirshner socialized with the party-clad clients, pointing out how a set of four typically experience independent living together in one house.
Les Retter of High Roller Sushi laid out torched, sugar-encrusted salmon nigiri alongside a pineapple-flavored Hawaiian “crab” roll. “We are happy to support such a good cause,” Retter said. “We are catering a lot of sushi for home events, schools, mitzvahs, hotels and hospitals … and events for ‘making your own sushi.’”
Nur Kitchen’s Shay Lavi and his assistant, Elissa Fladell, offered a dazzling display of three concepts: rows of “birthday pita” that brought back memories of Lavi’s childhood — when, instead of cake, his parties featured a bowl of hummus with a pickle in the middle — succulent eggplant and onion flavored with sumac and spicy amba and matbucha (a Moroccan Jewish condiment consisting of stewed tomatoes and roasted peppers) on tomato butter and dill.
In a whisper, Lavi told the Atlanta Jewish Times that he was, indeed, in the process of moving his highly touted Nur Kitchen across the street from its current location on Buford Highway, to be replaced with a beer and burger concept.
Aziza, part of Tal Baum’s Olivia Restaurant Group, served a winning cured salmon tartare with pickled mustard seed. Restaurant guru David Abes was on hand with chef Nick Leahy of the recently launched The Usual, serving potato gnocchi with smoked ragout on micro-cabbage salad. Pricci’s charismatic chef Piero Premoli presented a classic “Roman Hebrew” dish, abbacchio alla giudia, consisting of roasted lamb loin, artichokes and fava beans.
The first JF&CS tasting was held 22 years ago at the Grand Hyatt Atlanta, with Joan and Donald Brown hosting a low-key wine tasting for 130 guests. Their son, Mark Brown, who was in charge of libations, still works with distributors and vendors to provide a vast array of beverages in cans and by the glass.
“When we started, the idea was to have it in our home,” Joan Brown laughed. “I’m glad Donald got the Hyatt to donate everything and host it there. It was grand and still is.”
Alici, Aziza, Bastone, Botica, C&S Seafood, The General Muir, High Roller Sushi, Kaiser’s, Kevin Rathbun Steak, La Grotta, La Tavola, My Kind of Cookies, Nan Thai Fine Dining, Nur Kitchen, Pricci, The Select, The Usual, Added Touch Catering, Zest Catering
- Marcia Caller Jaffe
- Zimmerman-Horowitz Independent Living Program
- Stave Room
- Jewish Family and Career Services
- Terri Bonoff
- Nur Kitchen
- silent auction
- Honorary Chair Pearlann Horowitz
- JF&CS Chief Administrative Officer Keith Kirshner
- Les Retter
- High Roller Sushi
- Nur Kitchen’s Shay Lavi
- Elissa Fladell
- Tal Baum
- Olivia Restaurant Group
- David Abes
- Nick Leahy
- The Usual
- Piero Premoli
- C&S Seafood
- The General Muir
- Kevin Rathbun Steak
- La Grotta
- La Tavola
- My Kind of Cookies
- Nan Thai Fine Dining
- The Select
- Added Touch Catering
- Zest Catering