New Jersey’s Culinary Professionals to be Honored in Statewide Awards Program

Photo courtesy of BuyRite Liquor website

An independent statewide awards program, the Garden State Culinary Arts Awards, designed to recognize achievement, skill, talent and excellence in the culinary arts will be officially announced on Saturday, April 30 at the annual benefit gala for the nonprofit family foundation of Buy-Rite, Sarala Bathena Foundation, and the Ashley Lauren Foundation.

An independent volunteer awards committee of media professionals chaired by Pete Genovese, food and features writer for New Jersey Advance Media, will oversee the awards.

“New Jersey’s culinary professionals deserve to be recognized by an independent awards program,” Buy-Rite CEO Adithya Bathena said. “The contributions these professionals make not only to the culinary industry but to the very culture of the Garden State are far-reaching and enrich the lives of everyone in New Jersey.”

During Saturday’s “Super Sampling” gala, Bathena and Genovese will announce details of the awards program, which will honor chefs and restaurants, farmers and artisans, purveyors and professionals in wine, beer and spirits enterprises.

The Super Sampling, an exposition featuring top wines, brews, spirits and foods to pair with the best-in-beverages offerings, was established 10 years ago to raise money for charities that provide financial assistance to cancer patients and their families. The Sarala Bathena Foundation and the Ashley Lauren Foundation are the beneficiaries of the event at which aficionados of the culinary arts enjoy gathering, Bathena said.

“We feel the Super Sampling is the perfect setting for an awards ceremony that will honor culinary artists,” he added.

All of the proceeds from the Super Sampling will go to the beneficiaries.

This year’s Super Sampling, to be held at Buy-Rite’s Cedar Gardens events complex at 661 Route 33 in Hamilton, features three major components:

* A VIP “Meet the Winemakers” Reception, featuring wine professionals and a team of acclaimed chefs led by James Beard Award nominee and “Throwdown!” winner Drew Araneo of Drew’s Bayshore Bistro in Keyport, and including Mike Jurusz of Chef Mike’s ABG in South Seaside Park; Scott Giordano of The Poached Pear in Point Pleasant Beach; and Dean Orr of the Supper Club at Buy-Rite. The chefs will partner with wine professionals pouring artisan wines from France, the Piedmont region of Italy, Ravines in the Finger Lakes region of New York State, Catena in Argentina and from the Jorge Ordonez portfolio in Spain. Also exclusive to the VIP Reception will be samples sliced from a bone-in Iberico ham to be accompanied by cavas from Spain. The VIP reception will take place from 6:30 to 8 p.m. and is by reservation only; the cost is $130 per person.

* A private dinner prepared by multiple James Beard Award nominee Dan Richer, of Razza in Jersey City and Arturo’s in Maplewood, with wines from another multiple Beard Award nominee, importer Neal Rosenthal. Sommelier at the private dinner is Rosenthal veteran Neil Rosen. The dinner will be served from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.; the cost is $200 per person.

* “Best in Beverages” exposition in the Grand Ballroom. More than 500 fine wines, craft brews and artisan spirits will be offered for sampling from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. An array of foods will be served throughout the evening. The cost is $75 per person in advance or $100 at the door.

The 2017 vintage of the Super Sampling will incorporate a ceremony at which winners of the first Garden State Culinary Arts Awards will be announced.

The seven-member Garden State Culinary Arts Awards Committee chaired by Genovese is an independent volunteer panel of media professionals who agree to abide by written ethics policies and awards procedures. Its members are Genovese; Elisa Ung, restaurant reviewer and dining columnist for The Record; Shannon Mullen, staff writer for The Asbury Park Press; Nancy Brannigan Painter, founder and publisher of Edible Jersey magazine; Tammy Paolino, features editor/food blogger, The Courier Post/USA Today Network; Kerry Nolan, news host, New York/New Jersey Public Radio; and John Howard-Fusco, food writer and founder of Eating in South Jersey. The awards voting body will include the committee, a diverse panel of judges and the winners of the Garden State Culinary Arts Awards.

No full-time employee of Buy-Rite Liquors will be eligible for an award nor will be permitted to vote for the awards. Ballots will be tabulated by an independent accounting firm.

For more information about the Super Sampling, please visit or call 201-239-1200.

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