FAMILYConnections’ “A Taste of NJ’s Best”, will take place on Tuesday, May 2, at the Westminster Hotel in Livingston. This popular evening of delicious food and fine wine will benefit over 4,000 area children, adults and families.

This year’s event honorees are:  James Laird, Award-Winning Chef of Chatham’s Restaurant Serenade, and Ellen M. Davenport, Past President of FAMILYConnections and a former mayor of Maplewood.

While FAMILYConnections’ Tasting Gala has been an Essex County fundraising favorite for over ten years, this year promises a truly exceptional array of NJ’s finest award-winning restaurants and caterers, including:

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  • Ariyoshi, South Orange
  • Basilico Restaurant, Millburn
  • Blue Morel Restaurant and Wine Bar, Morristown
  • Chef Jesse, Chef to the Stars, South Orange
  • Fiorino Ristorante, Summit
  • Libretti’s Restaurant, Orange
  • Lickt Gelato & Sorbet, Maplewood
  • Nero’s Grille, Livingston
  • Papillon 25, South Orange
  • Restaurant Latour, Hamburg
  • Restaurant Lorena’s, Maplewood
  • Restaurant Serenade, Chatham
  • RW Delights, Home of the Heavenly Souffle, Millington
  • Slamwich Scratch Kitchen, Madison
  • Splurge Bakery, Millburn
  • Strip House, Livingston
  • The Bernards Inn, Bernardsville

In addition to fine wines and beer, this year’s Gala will also feature specialty vodka cocktails from Tree City Artisan Vodka in Kenilworth, NJ.

“This fun evening will celebrate the work that FAMILYConnections does to build strong families and communities throughout 7 counties,” says Jacques Hryshko, FAMILYConnections’ Executive Director.  “If you want to enjoy the finest food from NJ’s best while helping your neighbors in need, come celebrate with us!”

A Taste of NJ’s Best is sponsored by FAMILYConnections’ Board of Trustees led by South Orange resident, Alan P. Levine.  Jami Thall, of South Orange, and Jody Lipsky, from Maplewood are serving as Co-Chairs.  Other area residents on the Planning Committee include Nelson Troche-Hayes from South Orange and Laura Whitmire of Maplewood.

FAMILYConnections serves Essex and surrounding counties with 35 behavioral health programs for all ages, helping people overcome major challenges including domestic violence, mental illness, addiction, trauma, and poverty. Programs serving the local community include: The Loft at Columbia High School and The Hub at Maplewood Middle School.

Funds raised from “A Taste of NJ’s Best” will support these services and deliver hope and a second chance for local children and families.

To purchase tickets ($150 per person) or to learn more about FAMILYConnections, please visit or contact Nancy Wellbrock at