By Paula Gottlieb Herman

On June 25th, the weather gods shined down on the 8th Annual Long Island Hospitality Ball 2018, making this party with a purpose at Crest Hollow Country Club, even more glorious. Thousands of guests milled poolside, deckside, barside, inside, and were treated to the most incredible food samples, beverages, and live entertainment making the hospitality industry glitter like gold!

Chef Paula & CookingWithStars.com arrived for media check-in at 4:15 PM and visited with a few of the food stations as they were setting up. Some of the stand out savory dishes we got a sneak taste of included succulent meatballs, tortellini with wild mushroom sauce, chicken wings bathed in tangy barbecue or a spicy ghost pepper sauce, surf & turf with mango, Asian chicken salad with Nappa cabbage, wild mushroom salad, and smoked salmon avocado toast. Desserts included some of the best mini cannolis I’ve ever eaten in a variety of flavors-French vanilla, PB&J, chocolate raspberry, etc. Of special note, I also really enjoyed a spiked vanilla milkshake with rainbow sprinkles and a shot of whipped cream.

In its 8th year, the Long Island Hospitality Ball (LIHB) hit all its marks. As guests began arriving poolside, VIP’s gathered inside with a flute of champagne and sliced strawberries in hand, and witnessed Alec Baldwin, the host of the Honoree Awards Ceremony, use charm, humor, and nostalgia to remind us why we were all there. I really loved hearing about the recipient of the proceeds raised that night–his mom’s foundation, the Carol M. Baldwin Breast Cancer Research Fund. He told us stories about her battle with cancer, stories about his dad, and diffused some of the sadness with jokes. I even got the chance to tell him briefly how much I enjoyed his repartee as he shot past me and our video camera en route to introduce the main stage act.

Long Island Hospitality Ball 2018 by Slidely Slideshow

Press play above to enjoy my slideshow!  Also, the “Full screen mode” button is in the lower right corner.

The evening’s distinguished honorees included Janine Dion, Senior Vice President of Sales & Marketing for Crest Hollow Country Club; Martin Crane, Executive Vice President, General Manager at Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits; and a Posthumous Award to Gil Travalin, the notable Long Island Sommelier who died last year. The Ed Lowe Media Award was presented to Nada Marjanovich, Publisher and Editor of “LI Pulse Magazine.”

A highlight of the evening included a main stage performance by Christian Guardino. You might remember him as a Quarterfinalist from last year’s “America’s Got Talent.” He won America’s hearts by being Howie Mandel’s Golden Buzzer Winner. This now 17-year-old Long Islander crooned “Who’s Lovin’ You” with even more style than his “AGT” audition. DJ’s also performed all throughout the party keeping the music and the vibe exciting.

To add some visual interest to the event, there were glittery stilt walkers, one of whom dressed like a Greek water goddess with a bubble maker, and twirled Chef Paula in a sweet little dance. The purple and teal octopus stilt walker had loads of personality as well as many arms! While some people have difficulty walking while chewing gum, there was a stilt walker who from her elevated position, could juggle colorful balls in the air. At least year’s event, I remember seeing a mermaid reposing in the pool. This year we had a girl inside a clear plastic bubble frolicking around the aqua pool.

One of our favorite interviews that night was with Rachel Grant, the beautiful actress, model, and adventurer. While some may know her as a Bond Girl named Peaceful, I knew that she has visited over 70 countries. So naturally I had to ask her about some of the most exotic foods she’s ever tasted in her travels. I hope you’ll check out our interview for her answers!

While all good things must come to an end, I don’t think anyone wanted this party to end. Upon exiting about midnight, guests were given pints of ice cream and boxes of water for the road. My husband Michael and I headed home happily chatting about the night and all the people we met. But, midway through the ride, I made him safely pull the car over to a tree lined street, and suggested we sample the ice cream before it melted. The black cherry & chocolate chip ice cream as well as the chocolate brownie one were scrumptious! Now that’s a brilliant way to leave an event on a sweet note!

Thank you to Keith Hart and the entire LIHB committee for pulling off yet another stellar evening; one for the hospitality history books! May the $400,000 that you raised that night be able to ease the burden for those Long Islanders dealing with breast cancer, and one day, wipe it out!

Long Island Hospitality Ball 2018

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