By Paula Gottlieb Herman
Colorful flower girls on stilts, plumed showgirls, parrot & snake girl acrobats swinging on a perch, drag queen divas, and a girl in a plastic bubble frolicking in the pool. These were some of the 75 entertainers who greeted 2,000 guests at the 9th Annual Long Island Hospitality Ball (LIHB) on June 24th.
The Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury hosted the event. According to LIHB founder, hospitality guru & cancer survivor, Keith Hart, “This event is the most fun you’ll ever have with your clothes on!” Guests enjoyed lavish samples from over 70 food vendors and 60 premium wine and spirit vendors. They also loved mixing with some of the gala’s VIPs which included Long Island beauty queens, celebrity athletes & chefs, hospitality all-stars, and captains of industry.
Proceeds from the evening were earmarked for the 5th year in a row, for the Carol M. Baldwin Breast Cancer Research Fund. The evening raised over $400,000 and $3 million to date. So far, the fund has made possible over 72 grants to medical researchers in the quest to find a cure for breast cancer.
As a chef, covering events like these, I always pay careful attention to the food stations. Vendors at the Long Island Hospitality Ball donated 2,000 samples of their signature offerings, and truly brought their A-game. Grilled octopus tacos, braised duck, succulent meatballs, colorful sushi, heirloom tomato & burrata panini, crispy crab cakes, brick-oven pizza, and roasted pig were just a few of the delicacies featured. I absolutely loved the steak tidbits with garlic bread, chicken panini, and tortellini in mushroom sauce.
Outdoor vistas included an azure colored pool, waterfalls, and several areas showcasing musical talent. Center stage featured Sal Valentinetti, the Golden Buzzer crooner from “America’s Got Talent” and a high energy set by That 70’s Band. Guests ate and drank to their hearts delight throughout the venue. Indoors brought a nightclub vibe with couples dancing to electrifying DJ music, being amazed by close-up magicians, taking photos with towering robots, buying lots of raffles, and savoring yummy desserts.
One of the special highlights of #LIHB2019 was attending the Honoree Awards Ceremony where the Baldwin Family and LIHB executive board members talk about the pioneering research made possible through the funds raised by the Carol M. Baldwin Breast Cancer Research Fund. Daniel Baldwin and Stephen Baldwin were there to represent their mom.
Honorees included David C. Drucker, Executive Vice President, Sales, Empire Merchants; John Murray, Jr., Owner Mulcahy’s Pub & Concert Hall; and Richard Scholem, Restaurant Consultant & Critic, former NY Times Restaurant Critic who received the Ed Lowe Media Award.
After the awards ceremony ended, members of the media shot group photos and a few video interviews, and a truly special moment happened between Daniel Baldwin and me. As I approached him, he saw my Cooking With Stars flag microphone and said, “You don’t know what’s about to happen to you right now, do you? I am about to let you interview me.” It turns out that before Daniel was known for his acting and directing, he was a trained chef. During our interview he shared some yummy tips for his eggplant parmigiana while asking me to share my tips with him. The next time we meet, we will be cooking together in a Cooking With Stars kitchen. What’s on the menu? Daniel’s Chicken Lovelets since love is the key ingredient!
The rest of the evening was spent interviewing chefs, entertainers, and celebrity guests. Each and every one so grateful to be involved with LIHB2019! We hope you enjoy our event photos and videos at CookingWithStars.com/lihb. Remember that this party with a purpose, happens only once a year, so mark your calendars for the 10th Annual Long Island Hospitality Ball in 2020!