Inaugural Meals on Wheels event set for Oct. 22
Fall is finally here, and with it, of course, weekends filled with football games. And in the parking lots at Delaware Stadium before a Saturday afternoon Blue Hens game, or at Lincoln Financial Field before an Eagles game, RVs and hatchbacks will be laden with a smorgasbord of smoked goodies, chips and dips, and seasonal brews.
But even veteran tailgaters’ spreads will pale in comparison to the Meals on Wheels Ultimate Tailgate, set for the Wilmington Sheraton South in New Castle, on Thursday, Oct. 22, beginning at 6 p.m. This inaugural event will feature local restaurants and chefs offering their unique spin on classic tailgate dishes.
“The Ultimate Tailgate will continue the legacy of offering guests an opportunity to indulge in a unique culinary excellence, while raising money in support of Delaware’s homebound seniors,” says Regina Dodds, director of Events for Meals on Wheels Delaware. “We are incredibly grateful for the community’s outstanding contributions, and are excited to kick off our new fundraiser in the fall of 2015.”
Some of the local restaurants scheduled to be on hand for the Ultimate Tailgate include 8th & Union Kitchen, Caffé Gelato, Fins Ale House & Raw Bar, Soffritto Italian Grill, Columbus Inn, Pizza by Elizabeths, Buckley’s Tavern, and Chesapeake Inn & Marina.
Executive Chef Tom Hannum, of Buckley’s Tavern in Centreville, also serves as vice chair of the board of directors for Meals on Wheels Delaware. He says the Ultimate Tailgate will give Meals on Wheels a chance to extend its fundraising efforts into the fall, much like the Wine Auction and Celebrity Chef Brunch do in the spring.
“All the events we did used to be on the same weekend, and it was sometimes hard for people to attend each one,” says Hannum. “By spreading the events out, we’ll be able to attract more customers and guests.”
Gianmarco Martuscelli, owner of the Chesapeake Inn & Marina, says he and Chef Christian Lackford are planning Thai chicken mini-tacos and mini-crab cake sliders with a citrus-horseradish aioli and tomato jam.
Martuscelli takes great pride in being involved with Meals on Wheels. “Throughout the year, we get invited to a lot of events or are offered the chance to work with a lot of charities, and when it comes down to it, we can only do so many,” says Martuscelli. “But I feel like Meals on Wheels does the most for the community, and is a top three charity in mind, so we’re proud to be a part of it.”
On the beverage side of the event—because what’s a good tailgate without a proper beer or cocktail?—Two Stones Pub and its newly opened 2SP Brewing, located in Ardmore, Pa., will handle the beer garden at the Ultimate Tailgate.
Ben “Gumbo” Muse, of 2SP, says the event will feature more than 30 craft beers on tap at the beer garden. Of those, six will come from the 2SP lineup, including the Delco, a workhorse lager perfect for tailgating, the Weiss Wit, with subtle notes of coriander and orange peel, the Baby Bob, a roasty stout, and the Bellcracker, a double IPA.
In addition to all the creative fare and craft beer, Painted Stave Distilling, from Smyrna, as well as Philadelphia Distilling will be on hand to offer samples of their vodkas and gins.
Live entertainment will include a DJ spinning tunes, courtesy of Spin Jocs Entertainment, and cover band FreeLance playing classic rock. Guitarist Bruce Anthony also will be on hand, playing a mix of traditional jazz standards and contemporary blues and rock.
While the Meals on Wheels mission is to raise funds in support of nearly 4,000 homebound seniors statewide, Erica Porter Brown, project manager with City Fare Meals on Wheels Delaware, hopes the event will encourage those attending to consider becoming volunteers.
“Our biggest challenge continues to be our desperate need for new volunteers, especially as the number of people we serve increases,” says Brown. “We have not been able to add delivery drivers with some of the expanded routes we are now serving, so this fall, we will be undertaking a major volunteer recruitment campaign.”
Katy Ford, a 64-year-old Delaware native, has been delivering Meals on Wheels for just over a decade, after she was first approached about volunteering while working at Wilmington Trust. It started as a once-a-month activity for Ford, and is now something she enjoys doing several times a week.
“I wanted to do something meaningful in my retirement, and it’s turned into something that’s just as much for me as it is for the people I serve,” says Ford. “I thank them when I drop the meals off, because it really is fulfilling. It only takes between 30 and 90 minutes out of my day, and I’m happy to do it. I’ve made friends over the years and gotten a lot of good advice from those I’ve served.”
Ford picks up the hot lunchtime meals on Silverside Road and follows a mapped-out route that takes her to a minimum of six houses and a maximum of 18.
Anyone interested in volunteering should check out the volunteer portal at the Meals on Wheels website.
For more information on the Ultimate Tailgate, or to purchase tickets to the event at $55 per person, go to mealsonwheelsde.org, or call 656-6451.