Health & Wellness

Livingston Sunrise Rotary's Annual Food Tasting Event Raises Funds for St. Barnabas Neonatal Intensive Care

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Thavma Mediterranean Grill owner Alex Diamantopoulos and employees serve samples of their Greek cuisine to attendees. Credits: Kimberly A. Bolognini
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Former Livingston Mayor Stephen Santola and St. Barnabas Vice President of External Affairs, Louis LaSalle. Credits: Kimberly A. Bolognini
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More than 40 tricky tray baskets were donated to the event from local businesses, restaurants and families. Credits: Kimberly A. Bolognini
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Several art items were available to place a bid on for the art silent auction. Credits: Kimberly A. Bolognini
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More than 400 people were in attendance at the 2012 Food Tasting at Westminster Hotel. Credits: Kimberly A. Bolognini
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LIVINGSTON, NJ - The Livingston Sunrise Rotary brought the 8th annual Food Tasting to the Westminster Hotel Monday night to benefit the St. Barnabas Medical Center’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

The event cost $75 per person and was open to local residents and St. Barnabas staff and featured fine cuisine and wine from several restaurants in the area.

Former Rotary Club President Richard Pierce explained that the event gets more successful each year.

“Over the past eight years, we have donated $125,000 to the Neonatal ICU,” Pierce said. “Our goal is to help purchase neonatal bassinets which cost about $35,000 each.”

Pierce added that about 400 people were in attendance to help support the cause and he expects that around $25,000 will be raised from this year’s event.

“Without the restaurants and donors, this event wouldn’t be possible; they help raise thousands,” Pierce said.

In addition to a night of tasting gourmet foods and wine, more than 40 tricky tray baskets, raffles and a silent art auction were available for attendees to partake in as well.

Former Livingston Mayor Stephen Santola was in attendance and told The Alternative Press that he really looks forward to the night.

“The reason why it’s so great is because you get all the food you love while being around all great people helping a wonderful cause,” Santola said. “It’s rare that all these things can come together.”

Santola explained that he feels it’s important to help St. Barnabas, especially because they are so committed to Livingston.

“St. Barnabas is so great to Livingston, so anytime we can help, we love doing so,” Santola said.

He added that Lithos, Tutto Fresco and Calabria were his favorite tastings of the night.

In addition, some other restaurants that participated in the event were The Strip House, Godfather Restaurant, The Wood Pit, Sergio’s Kitchen and La Cucina.

Thavma Mediterranean Grill owner Alex Diamantopoulos said the restaurant located in the town center has been a participant of the food tasting event for five years now.

“Helping the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit is a great cause and we love to do anything that can benefit it,” Diamantopoulos said.

Thavma offered samples of filet minion on a toasted pita in a port wine sauce, chicken santorini with garlic, tomato and feta cheese and baklava as a desert piece.

He added that by participating in the event, it not only helps a good cause but also helps bring in new customers to the restaurant as well as the town center.

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