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Whim Dinner Benefits On The Rise
This summer’s fourth Whim dinner in North Andover on Wednesday, August 1st has local ties for Somerville and Cambridge residents. Presiding in the Smolak Farms kitchen that evening will be Executive Chef Suzi Maitland of Trina’s Starlite Lounge, 3 Beacon Street, at Inman Square in Somerville.
The Whim open-air dinners happen every Wednesday evening until August 29th at the historic Smolak family farm. A different New England chef is in charge for each of the eight dinners, which begin with guests gathered around a bonfire.
Menus, chosen by the chefs, are different every week, and Maitland’s fans here will likely be looking for dishes that reflect her personal style. She identifies herself as ‘Suzi Cornbread’ on the Starlite Lounge Facebook page; the Southern flair in her cooking comes from growing up in Tallahassee, she says. At Starlite, where pub food is the order of the day, her inventions have ranged from infinite variations on the hot dog to a duck quesadilla pictured on the Facebook page.
The Cambridge School of Culinary Arts offers another local link to the August 1 dinner. Maitland is a 2004 graduate of the Professional Chef’s Program at the school, just north of Porter Square at 2020 Massachusetts Avenue. A team of students from CSCA assists the Whim chefs throughout the summer, according to a note in the school’s alumni newsletter.
A local charitable connection also links Somerville and Cambridge to this particular Whim evening. Each chef in the series chooses an organization to which part of the evening’s receipts will be donated. The beneficiary for Maitland’s night is On The Rise, Inc., of Cambridge, the homeless women’s day program at 341 Broadway, the corner of Broadway and Inman Street, not far from the Starlite Lounge.
On The Rise serves women in Cambridge, Somerville and the Greater Boston area. More than 350 women per year depend on this program to help them with challenges that go beyond homelessness to include domestic abuse, addiction, trauma, and mental or physical illness. Based in a comfortable Victorian house at 341 Broadway, On The Rise initially provides bottom-line aid—a safe place to spend the day, a nutritious meal, a phone for an emergency call. Women who are ready can move on to take advantage of the professional help and advocacy available at On The Rise as they seek work, medical treatment, legal counsel, or housing; ultimately the program offers a path to a new community and a new life.
Volunteer efforts and funding by contributions from individuals, faith communities, foundations and businesses are crucial to On The Rise’s continuing efforts, says Martha Sandler, Executive Director at On The Rise. The organization has an annual budget of about $1 million.
“This support from the Whim dinner is a boon for us and for the community,” Sandler said. “A helping hand from the neighbors makes all the difference.”
Tickets are $65 per person for the three-course Whim dinner and hayride/farm tour. Smolak Farms is at 315 South Bradford Street, North Andover. Information and tickets are available on line at http://www.smolakfarms.com/whim.