Above Anthony Cerrato (Photo by Lynne Harty)
Story by Janet Moore
What could be better than an evening of good wine, fine food and great art (all of it up for auction), shared among friends and benefiting a worthy cause? On October 1, the greater Asheville community will once again gather at the Asheville Event Centre on Sweeten Creek Road to support the life-saving, life-changing work of the Western North Carolina AIDS Project (WNCAP) at the 28th Annual Raise Your Hand Auction and Gala.
“Initially, Raise Your Hand was all about the art, and with good reason,” says Pam Siekman, gala organizer and WNCAP volunteer. “We always have very generous donations from some of the region’s leading artists. But over the years, the gala and auction have earned the reputation of having great food and wine, too.”
Since its inception in 1986, WNCAP has grown to become a critical part of the western North Carolina healthcare safety net.
Siekman credits the support of Asheville Independent Restaurant Association members Joe Scully (Corner Kitchen, Chestnut), Michel Baudouin (Bouchon), Eric Scheffer (Vinnie’s Neighborhood Italian) and Anthony Ceratto (Strada Italiano and The Social Lounge & Tapas Bar) with helping make Raise Your Hand a celebration of food and wine, too.
“These talented chefs have been instrumental in growing our event,” she says. “For more than a decade, they have donated their time and talent to our cause. In fact, one of our most popular auction items is a dinner for eight, prepared in-home, by Joe, Michel, Eric and Anthony.”
For the second consecutive year, Chef Anthony Cerrato is creating the Raise Your Hand menu. Guests can look forward to a fine selection of hors d’oeuvres such as Beef Wellington, Bacon and Bleu cheese stuffed dates and Candy Apple Pork Belly with Chianti reduction. Dinner entrees include Tofu Eggplant Saltimbocca, Fried Shrimp and Grits and Brasato di Guanciale. “Chef Anthony reached out to the purveyors and local farmers he works with to raise the culinary bar, so to speak. The result will be a deliciously memorable and elegant evening,” Siekman says.
Since its inception in 1986, WNCAP has grown to become a critical part of the western North Carolina healthcare safety net. Today it provides HIV-related support, prevention, education and advocacy activities in all 18 counties. Last year, Raise Your Hand generated more than $175,000 for WNCAP.
“The money we raise is critical in order for us to provide the case management services, care, education and outreach needed to manage and even prevent new HIV/AIDS infections,” Siekman says. “In the years since Raise Your Hand first started, AIDS has gone from being a death sentence to being a chronic disease that can be managed with medication. But the fact remains that in the 21st century AIDS and HIV are still very much with us right here in western North Carolina.”
Tickets to the gala are $125 and can be purchased at wncapgala.org or by calling the WNCAP office at 828.335.6680.
Janet Moore helped to develop Plough to Pantry at its inception. We have her to thank for our three distinct content sections, Sow & Grow, Reap & Eat and Nourish & Nurture.