Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Real Housewives of New Jerseys' catering hall hosts "In Living Pink" breast cancer benefit

Take a great cause and add a little reality TV rubbernecking, you've got me at hello.

If you have watched the Real Housewives of New Jersey, you may recall that Dina and Caroline's husbands own The Brownstone, a fancy catering hall located in Paterson.

When I heard the Northern New Jersey branch of the Young Survival Coalition would hold their annual fundraiser there, I was determined to make it across the Hudson River.

Sadly, I did not see much of the Manzo family featured in the TV program.  At most I may have caught brief glances of Caroline Manzo's son and daughter, but that was about it. Sorry to say I have no inside gossip, except for the fact they have a big tray of black-and-white cookies in the office, and I was too timid to grab one.  I would be useless at the National Enquirer.

Meanwhile, hundreds of people were on hand to help YSC NNJ. Guests spent their time bidding on silent auction prizes and participating in a raffle (the necklace in the picture was made by my friend Darlene).

On to the food! Of all the "Real Housewives" franchises, the New Jersey series is the most fixated on eating. While the women of Orange County try to avoid eating, and Bethanny Frankel of New York City has written a best selling diet book, the Jersey girls are often shown in the kitchen, making red sauce, meatballs and so forth. So it's safe to say I came hungry. Catering hall food is often a letdown, but everything on the buffet was tasty. The beef short ribs and the penne were my favorites, along with the mocha ice cream dessert.

While the food may have helped bring in a crowd, the star of the evening was pro golfer Val Skinner. The athlete and philanthropist has a breast cancer foundation which, much like YSC, focuses on serving younger women. She gave an emotional speech, talking about her friend and fellow golfer Heather Farr, who died of breast cancer at 28.

It's always interesting to watch the faces of my fellow survivors during this kind of speech. Some are overcome with emotion, some are withdrawn. I was touched by the tabletop decoration, which is the YSC logo in candles. It's always tricky finding a way to make a serious point about breast cancer without overwhelming the audience. I thought the candles hit just the right note.

All in all it was a festive evening. It was nice to be able to indulge my appetite and curiosity, while helping an important breast cancer charity. Thanks to some new friends, I got a ride back to the city, arriving just in time to watch the Real Housewives of New Jersey on TV. Too bad I did not have one of those cookies to munch on!


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