Earlier this year right here in our region, a tragedy hit the Paramus NJ area: a school bus crash claimed the life of a young student and a beloved teacher, while injuring numerous children. The community was left devastated, while many parents were left with astronomical medical bills. Who you gonna call? That’s right: Top Chef. Bruce Kalman, who competed in the latest season, happens to be from the area, and even though he now resides in California, his heart is still in New Jersey.

He called in a few of his fellow Top Chefs and hosted a fundraiser benefiting Paramus Children’s Health Foundation, which is supporting the victims of this tragedy. A tasting event that hosted 8 Top Chef contestants and numerous restaurants from the area was held at Biagio’s Terrace in Paramus,NJ, under the motto Chefs for Paramus Strong. It was a huge success, the turnout was amazing, and over 26K was raised.

Did I go? Of course. Not only was I not going to miss the food of these amazing chefs, but needless to say, I was more than willing to support this cause. The attending Top Chef contestants were: Bruce Kalman, Ilan Hall, John Tesar, Silvia Barban, BJ Smith, Chris Scott, Tyler Anderson and Gerald Sombright. These guys happen to be just some of the finest specimen of the human race: talented, gracious and humble.

Chris Scott wowed with a Watermelon Salad with spicy peanut sabayon and a lemon gastrique. John Tesar’s Beef Cheek Tacos were sensational. BJ Smith had a tasty little bite of Pickled Shrimp with sweet corn and cranberry bean succotash for us. Gerald Sombright cooked a yummy order of Beef Tallow Szechuan Asparagus with parmesan cheese. Ilan Hall made the most amazing and innovative little crispy rice shells in shape of a ball, filled with spicy tuna’d beets, avoccado puree and sesame seeds. Bruce Kalman of course had some pasta for us: Ricotta Cavatelli with Guanciale, mushrooms and parmigiano-reggioano cheese. Silvia Barban also had pasta: Smoked Spaghetti Aglio Olio, with Calabrian Chile, parsley and bread crumbs. Last and certainly not least Tyler Anderson made us an Orzo Risotto with cauliflower, almonds and black truffle. I felt like I was a judge on Top Chef, just please don’t ask me who’s the winner, it’s impossible to choose…

* please excuse some of the picture quality, the lighting (pink and purple) was not optimal…

Of course these are my personal standouts due to my fondness of these talented chefs, but make no mistake, there was some great food served by all vendors that evening. Participating chefs, restaurants and bakeries were: Bobby Flay of Bobby’s Burger Palace, Michael Jenkins of Butter NYC, Daniel Holzman of the Meatball Shop, Adam Gertler of Dog Haus LA, Michael Passmore of Passmore Ranch Caviar, Ben and Jerry’s, José Luis Chavez Rivera of NYC, Johnny Manganiotis of Mr. Cupcakes, Franklin Becker of FB Hospitality, Hotel Americano, Will Lustberg of Hudson Table, Luke Venner of Elm Restaurant, Kristin Eddy of Millwrights CT, Lance Applebaum of Fossil Farms, Robert Austin Cho of Kimchi Smoke, Joseph Cuccia of 17 Summer Restaurant, and Bryan Tortorella of Steel Wheel Tavern.

This was a great evening with even greater people with some of the greatest food, all for a worthy cause. A special shoutout should go to the bartenders who donated their time, and asked that the tips will be donated.

Please show your support by donating to Children’s Health Foundation of Paramus NJ