Recently, I was contacted by an organization based in Rochester, N.Y. called Latinas Unidas, which is a not-for-profit organization of Latinas who have committed themselves to raise money for scholarships, offer internships, and serve as positive role models for young Latinas. They were interested in having me as guest Hostess for their Gala Scholarship Dinner, and since their message is one that I am deeply committed to, namely, inspiring young Latinas (and Latinos) to better themselves through education, I happily accepted.
The event was scheduled for September 22, 2006, and a few days before, I was notified by Miguelina (my trusty right hand!) that since it was Hispanic Heritage month, City Hall wanted to give me the keys to Rochester while I was there. Needless to say, I was speechless, not to mention flattered. I mentioned to my son Erik that I was being presented with the keys to Rochester, and he looked up at me and said, “Wow! Does the city of Rochester realize that they’re giving the keys to the city to a Puerto Rican from Brooklyn?” After a good laugh, I assured him they did.
I was met at the airport by the President of Latinas Unidas, Daisy Algarin (who also has a daughter named Daisy…i can tell you it was fun being in a room with the three of us present!), who is a whirlwind of energy! I was introduced to the charming, dashing mayor of Rochester, Mayor Bob Duffy, who presented me with the Keys to the City.
It was all very exciting! As luck would have it, there was a company of firefighters there lending support to one of their own, who was receiving a medal for bravery in the line of duty. I went over to offer my congratulations, and of course, bragged that my Dad had been a firefighter for 32 years. They immediately invited me over to the firehouse, so that I could cook for them. I told them I would definately have to make arrangements to do that in the not too distant future!
After the ceremony, we were whisked away by another Latina, Linda-Strauss-Jones, who was our escort for the duration of our stay. Linda provided Miggy and I with a tour of the downtown area, and a running commentary on history and points of interest, as we drove to Canandaigua. It really was a lovely drive, and we reached our destination, The Inn by the Lake, in no time flat. I was scheduled to do a demo at the New York Wine and Culinary Center, later that afternoon, and I was eager to see the facilities so that I could become familiar with the work space.
The space is incredible! They have a beautiful edible garden, which the restaurant on site puts to delicious use, a gorgeous Wine Tasting Room, an amphitheatre for the cooking demonstartions, a gift shop, private dining room…like I said, incredible!
The tasting Room
When I got to the theatre I found a group of fans who hadn’t been able to purchase tickets, as the event had sold out very quickly, but they had come in with hopes of saying Hi and getting an autograph. It was very cool to spend a couple of minutes chatting with them.
Then it was time for the demo. Everytime I do one of these, I always say how much fun it would be to do a show with a live audience, because its like having company at your house, except, I don’t have to clean up afterwards! It’s always so great to be able to chat and laugh with the audience, and feed them too!
I made a Valenciana Salad, and a seafood fideua , and a bread pudding that everyone loved! The kitchen staff did a great job of working the event and the wait staff was amazing as well!
After thanking them all for a job well done, I went back to my room, to freshen up for the evening’s gala event. More on that next time!