Two decades ago, The Tasting began as small parlor events in volunteers’ homes for what has become the only fundraiser for the Zimmerman-Horowitz Independent Living Program of Jewish Family & Career Services.
It grew to a small wine tasting in the Cascade Room at the Grand Hyatt Buckhead, and over the years, into an annual event with dishes from more than 20 acclaimed Atlanta restaurants and more than 200 wines, beers and spirits.
The ZH-ILP, part of JF&CS’s Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities Services, provides services for adults with disabilities in group homes with a house manager and 24-hour care, or in their own home with support.
On May 16, participants in the program, such as Matt Southern, dressed up in their finest and joined 700 guests at The Stave Room for the 20th anniversary of The Tasting.
This year’s co-chairs, Amy Fingerhut and Kevin Blate, and Robin Feldman and Chuck Edelberg, re-envisioned the event at the new venue.
Fingerhut, who has helped secure restaurant participants since 2013, convened an impressive display of delicious culinary creations with many returning restaurants such as Aria, Serpas, True Food Kitchen, Kaiser’s Chophouse, and La Grotta Ristorante Italiano as well as several new restaurants, including Nowak’s, Fox Bros. Barb-B-Q and Local Three Kitchen and Bar.
Mark Brown, the self-described “forever libations chair,” has secured the drinks from generous distributors since he and his parents, Joan and Don Brown, helped start the first event at the Hyatt.
“It’s been a wonderful 20 years, and we have raised a lot of money for a great cause. I hope we keep it going for another 20 years. I think it’s wonderful that the program gives adults with disabilities the chance to live independently,” Brown said.
“The distributors have always been extremely supportive. Doug Hertz and Jay Davis, in particular, have always stepped up to the plate for this organization, and it’s great to see the new generation step up as well.”
Pearlann and Jerry Horowitz were the honorary chairs again this year along with their daughter, Michelle Horowitz, and their son and daughter-in-law, Scott and Michelle L. Horowitz.
During the event, guests also bid on a silent auction, which this year included artwork created by participants in The Artist Collective, a new initiative in which adults in the IDDS program work with volunteer artists from the community.
“The ZH-ILP is exceptional among residential programs because of the quality of care we insist upon providing to our residents,” said Melissa DaSilva, director of JF&CS’s intellectual and developmental disabilities program. “And it is because of the support from our long-term patrons, the Zimmerman and Horowitz families, and the money raised at the Tasting, that we are financially able to offer a residential service that meets all of the best practices in the industry, including high-quality care, community inclusion and outings, and person-centered planning.”
New JF&CS CEO Terri Bonoff said, “The extraordinary success of The Tasting is a reflection on the broad and diverse community that JF&CS serves. I loved seeing people of all ages, from millennials to great-grandparents, celebrate together with such joy. It truly represents the mission of JF&CS. The heart and soul felt so strongly at The Tasting mirrors the caring that participants experience as part of the program,” Bonoff said.
“This event’s success has been due to the dedicated co-chairs, committee heads, volunteers and staff members who work hard each year, not only to raise funds for the program, but also to give each guest a wonderful culinary experience.
“In addition, guests get to see firsthand who they are helping. Often you give money to a cause and hope that the money gets to the right place. Here, at this event, you can meet and talk with the incredible men and women in the program.”
The program currently includes seven group homes, and JF&CS opened a new one last year at Camp Twin Lakes.
Feldman is already looking forward to 2020. “People loved this year’s event and are still talking about it. The Tasting continues to be one of the best, and most delicious, signature fundraising events in the city, supporting a very worthwhile cause.”
Restaurants in attendance this year included: Alma Cocina, Arnette’s Chop Shop, Baroque Culinary Services, Batter Cookie Dough Counter, Biltong Bar, C&S Seafood and Oyster Bar, Casi Cielo, Davio’s Northern Italian Steakhouse, Grana, il Giallo Osteria & Bar, High Roller Sushi, Shake Shack, South City Kitchen, Tabla, Whiskey Bird, and The White Bull.
To learn more about the ZH-ILP, visit www.jfcsatl.org.