International Chef’s Night Out: Dining for a Cause

Event proceeds support Ocean County Vocational Technical School.

Wouldn’t it be nice to take part in an event where funds were raised that provided scholarship and grant money to students and teachers? And wouldn’t it be nice to go to a huge party where more than 60 restaurateurs showed up and brought their signature dishes, and for three hours your only goal was to try them all?

“This is our 16th year (holding the event)," said Angela Castaldo, event coordinator for the International Chef’s Night Out through the Ocean County Foundation, scheduled for March 5. "We have businesses that come and serve to our patrons, and the patrons walk around the arena for three hours and taste everything. There’s wine tasting, desserts …You can’t go to one restaurant to try all the things you will at this event.”

Castaldo wasn’t kidding about the "arena" part, either. The event will take place at the Pine Belt Arena (formerly the Ritacco and Poland Spring Arena), 1245 Old Freehold Road in Toms River. The price of a ticket to be paid in advance of the event is $50 per person, which all goes to benefit the Ocean County Vocational Technical School, and the presentation runs from 6 to 9 p.m. Guests can hop from sushi to Italian, from chocolate to pastries, enjoy live entertainment, and possibly win a great prize as well.

So stop thinking about how nice it would be and start making plans to attend the International Chef’s Night Out on Monday, March 5. It's our "Day Tripper" pick of the week.


Estimated Travel Time: 1 Hour, 30 Minutes

Why it’s Worth the Trip:  You can spend a lot of money at a restaurant and get a decent meal. You can spend a small amount of money at a buffet and get a lot of food, but in both cases you’re not going to be contributing to the exceptional education opportunities the Ocean County Vocational Technical School provides. Here’s a chance to do a lot, help a lot (and maybe eat a lot!) all at once.

How to Get There from Here: Detailed driving directions.

You’ll Probably Get Hungry: Which makes it a very good thing that you’re heading to an event like the International Chef’s Night Out. However, if you plan to arrive in town early, you might want a small bite to eat. Hooper Ave., one of the main roads in the Toms River area, has all the names you’ll recognize (TGI Friday’s, Olive Garden, Friendly’s), some you might not (Benihana, Tuscan House), and several convenience stores including Wawa and 7-11. We’d suggest you save room for the main course(s) though.

While you’re in the Area: If you’re inclined to do some shopping, Hooper Avenue is the site of the Ocean County Mall where you’ll find Sears, Boscov’s, Build-A-Bear, Pac Sun and many other outlets. Across the road find Toys ‘R Us, and farther down Hooper you’ll come across AMC Theaters. If you’re in town early and the relatively warm weather New Jersey has been enjoying this winter holds true, spend some time at Winding River Park or Bey Lea Park, or take a look at the Toms River Little League park.

Castaldo described how this unique fundraising concept came about for Ocean County Vocational School. "One of our chairmen from a few years back owned a restaurant, and the idea for the event was spurred on from there. It started originally with only five or six participating restaurants. Now we’re nearing 65 and we wind up needing to turn some businesses away.”

Readers might wonder why this Day Trip is being talked about nearly a month in advance of the event, and the answer is that attendance requires your RSVP in the form of purchasing your ticket in advance. Castaldo said that, while the earliest patrons are always welcomed, she has accepted people at the last minute. "In order to attend, people need to purchase their ticket before March 5th," Castaldo said.

The Ocean County Vocational Technical School provides courses for high school students on a shared scheduling basis, post-high school training, classes for adult students in the evening, and offers special needs courses as well. In this period of a slowly rebuilding economy, the need to freshen up, expand upon, or learn entirely new skills for an ever-challenging workplace becomes extremely important. The proceeds from this event go to fund scholarships and grants for both students and teachers to keep OCVTS’ necessary work going.

“If you like to eat, this is an opportunity to taste a lot of different food in a comfortable atmosphere,” Castaldo said. And don’t forget, you’re also doing good in the process. Wouldn’t it be nice if all things were win/win situations?

To view the event’s flyer, click for a PDF at: http://www.ocvts.org/htm/current/events/flyers/chefs-night-out-2012.pdf

For more about the Ocean County Vocational Technical School, visit their site: http://www.ocvts.org/


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