Eight bartenders help send Delaware culinary students to school

February 6, 2017

Last Sunday afternoon, Fork + Flask’s Winter Cocktail Party was ground zero for competitive cocktails, tasty snacks and lots of fun. And it all went to benefit the of Italy Culinary Scholarship Fund. 

Eight high-profile mixologists brought their A game to the event, whipping up one-of-a-kind potables using Dogfish Head Distilling’s Analog Vodka and Compelling Gin. Unique ingredients included rice vinegar, rosemary, habanero peppers, green tea, thyme-infused blueberry syrup, banana eggnog, peppercorns, sage honey, cloves and egg whites - just to name a few. It was like Dr. Frankenstein’s laboratory, but without all that lightning. 

Each ticketholder was given three votes, and it goes without saying that the guests became more and more festive - and generous - as they moved from station to station. To balance out the collection of delectable sips, Fork + Flask’s Executive Chef Sean Corea, award-winning pastry chef Dru Tevis and Chef Rob Peck teamed up to provide tasty bites. One of the stars of the show was the elaborate slider station featuring slider-friendly fillings such as braised, shredded and perfectly spiced short rib, savory pulled chicken and Moroccan lamb meatballs. And of course no party in Rehoboth Beach would be complete without cookies in the shape of Dogfish Head beer bottles. 

The of Italy Culinary Scholarship Fund provides tuition assistance to Delaware high school graduates who successfully complete the Delaware Restaurant Association’s three-level ProStart curriculum. Qualifying students receive grants to help continue their education at full-time professional culinary schools. The Culinary Scholarship Fund has already sent deserving Delaware high school graduates to New York’s Culinary Institute of America and The Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College in Philadelphia, the alma mater of such Cape Region luminaries as Kevin Reading, founder of Nage restaurant and current boss at Abbott’s Grill and Brickworks; and Hari Cameron, chef/owner of restaurant a(MUSE.) and Grandpa (MAC). 

It has been so gratifying to see our Cape Region food industry people team up to encourage Delaware high school graduates to seek careers in professional food service. To that end, Dogfish Head Distilling and LaVida Hospitality donated the required product, along with local restaurants that generously stepped up to the plate (or more accurately, the glass). The of Italy Scholarship Foundation thanks top-notch barkeeps John Rainier from Eden, Lars Ryan at Dogfish Head Brewery, Ginger Breneman behind the bar at Fork + Flask, Mac Payne from The Starboard, Pat Backus at Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats, Kasey O’Brien from Lefty’s Alley & Eats, Crooked Hammock’s Tommy Little, and Rob Bagley behind the bar at Chesapeake & Maine. Their time, effort and talent were not wasted: The newly enlarged Fork + Flask @ Nage was packed wall-to-wall with partiers, and Delaware teens who dream of professional careers in this business of eating are the better for it.

  • So many restaurants, so little time! Food writer Bob Yesbek gives readers a sneak peek behind the scenes, exposing the inner workings of the local culinary industry, from the farm to the table and everything in between. He can be reached at

    Masthead photo by Grant Gursky. Used with permission from Coastal Style Magazine.

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