20 Jersey Chefs Team Up for Tasty Fundraiser

Local chefs will cook up a storm at the Tasting, a benefit for Eva's Village in Paterson. The event is being held at Jersey City's Battello.

The Tasting
Ryan DePersio's Battello in Jersey City is hosting the Tasting on September 12. Photo courtesy of Courtney Novak

On September 12, Chef Ryan DePersio is joining 20 other New Jersey chefs to put on the Tasting, a fundraising evening with master chefs.

The event is being held at one of DePersio’s restaurants, Battello in Jersey City, which sits on the Hudson River and overlooks Lower Manhattan. Jersey City’s Kitchen Step and Montclair’s Fascino are also led by DePersio.

In 2019, DePersio and Chef Robbie Felice (Viaggio in Wayne, Osteria Crescendo in Westwood and pastaRAMEN) planned the first Tasting. It benefited Eva’s Village in Paterson—a nonprofit that assists people dealing with hunger, addiction, homelessness and other challenges—and will do so again this year.

The 2019 benefit drew 400 attendees and raised a quarter of a million dollars, but the pandemic delayed a follow-up until now. Inside Battello, each chef plans on preparing a signature dish. Chefs Leia Gaccione of South + Pine (Morristown), Ehren Ryan of Common Lot (Millburn), and Jamie Knott of Saddle River Inn, Saddle River Café and Cellar 335 (Jersey City) are just a few of the highly regarded chefs on the list.

“We have very loyal chef friends,” DePersio says. “With 20 different chefs, there will be 20 different dishes to taste. No repeats.”

Interested in attending? See evasvillage.org for tickets, plus more information on chefs and dishes.

NJM: What inspired you to raise money for Eva’s Village?
Ryan DePersio: Robbie Felice and I originally came together because Eva’s Village had a cooking school. Whether it was feeding people, or [helping people who deal with] addiction, or anything they offer to people, it just seemed right for us to be a part of it.

I think a lot of charities out there can use help, especially from chefs like us in the area. Unfortunately, their cooking school closed during the pandemic, but Chef Robbie and I have spoken with them about trying to bring it back. It will be very beneficial if we can get it to come back—not only for Eva’s Village, but also for the industry to gain more employees, which is very difficult right now.

How will the evening of the Tasting run?
Twenty restaurants are attending, including some small business owners like Jersey Girl Cheese and Gelati Ice Cream. They will be spread across two big rooms. People can walk up, grab a plate and say hello to the chef. Chef Robbie and I are doing a private dinner in the wine room for 16 people that sold out within minutes.

We hear a special guest will be there.
Our guest chef is Angelo Sosa, who has competed on Top Chef and has been a culinary advisor for many restaurants in California, New York and Las Vegas. We worked together at Jean Georges in Manhattan from 2000-2002. We always thought about bringing in a talented chef from outside New Jersey, and since Angelo is a friend, it just seemed right.

What was it like planning the event?
It was definitely a lot of work. It’s rewarding when you reach your goal, and it really just drives you to want to do more in the future.

What is new for you as we head into the fall?
Battello is very busy, and I also have Kitchen Step in Jersey City and Fascino in Montclair, which I opened with my family over 19 years ago. I’m just keeping up with the times and constantly changing through the seasons. I have a new project in the works, but that’s all I can say. There will be a new restaurant and event venue in 2023.

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