Sea Cliff School Garden Farm to Table Dinner...Our Mission Has Come to Fruition!
On the evening of Friday, September 17th, the Sea Cliff School PCA Garden was transformed into a magical space which could easily have competed with any five star restaurant. In a celebration of our wonderfully rich and plentiful garden, diners were treated to a 4-course meal prepared by star chefs, who also happen to be local Sea Cliff School parents! The menu was amazing and the outdoor space was dreamy. With string lights and beautiful views of the luscious vegetable and herb garden, it was difficult to remember you were on the school's blacktop. Tea lights (battery operated), flowers (donated by Baron Floral Designs) and herbs decorated the tables. Resource Room Teacher Mojdeh Hassani has become the school's liaison to the garden, helping to run the garden club and summer program and serving on the Garden's Advisory Board. This beautiful night was Ms. Hassani's vision and she expertly made it a success! "It was such a fun event, I enjoyed every minute of it, I am delighted for everyone to see how extraordinary the garden is!" said Ms. Hassani. No detail was left to chance, and Ms. Hassani enlisted the help of her colleagues to serve as wait staff and mocktail servers. Teachers David Schultz, Lauren Kottler, Megan McCormack, Jodie Larson, Lindsay Feibus, Amelia Hecker and Nina Becker all did a phenomenal job ensuring the night went off without a hitch. In addition, none of it would have been possible without the constant support and encouragement of our tirelessly dedicated Principal, Jeanette Wojcik.
The incredible chefs who donated their valuable time and expertise to this dinner created a menu on par with a Michelin rated restaurant! French Culinary Institute trained Chef Maggie Odell, who is also a Culinary Instructor, created and prepared an Ajo Blanco amuse-bouche that was a delectable soup of garlic grown by our very own Sea Cliff School students last school year and harvested during our summer program. Next, Maggie devised a gorgeous salad, which included lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers and green beans from the garden.
In addition, French Culinary Institute trained, acclaimed Chef Jason Potter, from Blue Ribbon restaurants and most recently, proprietor of the Sea Cliff Beach Cliffside Cafe, created the next two divine courses. Using the Long Island Cheese Pumpkins that are growing along the Franklin Avenue fence of the garden, Jason made a Pumpkin Raviolo with sage-infused butter that melted on our tongues! The delicious main course that he created was a mouthwatering Braised Short Rib of Beef with garden grown potatoes, tomatoes and carrots.
Dessert was created by pastry Chef Lisa Lonigro who has a wealth of experience baking at places like Young's Farm and Waterzooi Belgian Bistro. An Olive Oil and Basil Poundcake with Balsamic Peaches delighted diners. The peaches were from Garden Mama Maria Mosca's own peach tree.
Another highlight of the evening was the performance by the North Shore High School Jazz Band. You didn't have to be a jazz enthusiast to be tickled pink by musicians Sophia Brandimart, Matias Buschfrers, Mark Horn and Ruben Shonik who played under the direction of High School Band Director Brandon Bromsey.
The Sea Cliff School PCA Garden was created five years ago to support curricular goals of teaching principles of sustainability, to show students where our food comes from, to teach them to grow their own food and to encourage them to live healthier lifestyles. The original visionary was Dr. Christopher Zublionis, current Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, then Sea Cliff School Principal who worked with then PCA President Ali Ciampa to pull off the minor miracle of building this innovative and inspiring space.
Sea Cliff School students are so lucky to spend their SWES (School-Wide Enrichment Services) and/or STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Art Mathematics) period in the garden. During SWES and STEAM, students collaborate with their peers and learn to use creative and critical thinking skills while learning about plant science with the most hands-on learning possible, by literally getting their hands dirty, learning about the life cycle of plants and tools used in the garden, from composting to harvesting! Friday night's dinner felt like the beginning of a great tradition to honor that mission. The dinner would not have been possible without the help of marvelous volunteers and the wonderful parents in the community who came together to support the garden and dine at this great event.
Article provided by the Sea Cliff Garden Committee
Photos provided by the Sea Cliff Garden Committee and Ms. Megan McCormack