Each year, at Saint Martin’s University in Lacey, Washington, the Bon Appétit team caters an annual gala that makes a big splash in the community.
The black-tie fundraiser in support of student scholarships had been limited in recent years due to COVID-19-induced safety precautions, so the 2022 gala offered an opportunity for alumni and friends of the university to come together for a full in-person celebration, for a good cause. The over 600 people who attended experienced a cooking demonstration put on by celebrity Chef Anne Burrell, who took the audience step-by-step through a five-course, wine-paired Italian meal. After the demonstration guests were treated to the same meal, cooked and plated by the Bon Appétit team, and treated to a performance by the Seattle-based band, Mr. Pink.
For Saint Martin’s Executive Chef Matthew Alspaugh, the gala started many months ago, when the university selected Anne Burrell as their celebrity chef partner for the event. Matthew developed the night’s menu and worked closely with Anne to refine it, then held a private advance tasting for the Saint Martin’s Board of Trustees. After the menu was approved, Matt and the team got to work renting equipment — everything from ovens to flat top grills, and even pots and pans — which filled out a pop-up kitchen located within the venue’s loading dock.
As the night of the gala drew near, Bon Appétit chefs from around Washington State flocked to Saint Martin’s. “It’s like a family reunion,” says Matthew. “It’s a big commitment for our chefs to leave their account, so we appreciate their help that much more.”
Bon Appétiters who brought their culinary talents included Whitman College Executive Chef Jon Sodini, Expedia Group Seattle Culinary Director Chris Opsata, Adobe Seattle General Manager Justin Chalk and Executive Chef Aaron Senter, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Executive Chef Paul Rosquita, Cornish College General Manager Cody Rogers, and Starbucks General Manager Eric Battles. “The gala is like chef camp,” remarks Matthew. “We all know each other so well, and we get in the kitchen, turn on music, and cook together.”
With a record-breaking $3 million raised for student scholarships, the night was a smashing success that Bon Appétit was proud to support.