CAPITAL DISTRICT Albany and Saratoga are well known as area hotspots fine dining. Soon, one city will reign supreme after a friendly competition in the First Annual Chef Challenge. Proceeds from the event will support Big Brothers and Big Sisters of the Capital Region.
Organizers are hopeful that holding the event in Saratoga Springs will give Big Brothers Big Sisters more of a presence in Saratoga County. The event also gives the group a chance to explore a different kind of fundraiser, in addition to their popular galas and Bowl for Kids’ Sake.
Chefs A.J. Jaypal of The Brown Derby Restaurant in Albany and John Ireland of Panza’s Restaurant in Saratoga will display their culinary skills on Thursday, May 10, at the Hampton Inn and Suites in Saratoga Springs at 25 Lake Ave. from 6 to 9 p.m. General reservations are $50 per person and$100 per person for honorary committee reservations. The winning chef will be awarded a silver spatula.
“It’s a really exciting, fresh new idea, it’s definitely not your typical gala,” said Sabrina Houser, chief executive officer for Big Brothers Big Sisters. The idea originated with Board of Directors member Jay Goodman and has been in the works for about a year.
Big Brothers Big Sisters connects youths facing adversity from ages 6 to 16 with adult mentors in their communities. Around 98 percent of the children connected with the organization come from single parent households or a family where one parent is incarcerated. The highest need is in finding matches for boys. About 40 percent of matches are made in Albany County and 20 percent each are made in Schenectady, Rensselaer and Saratoga counties.
“A Big (mentor) provides honestly just a positive adult friend in a child’s life. … By having a Big, these children are 75 percent more likely to get a four year degree as opposed to without having a mentor,” said Houser.