By Dawn Watson
Brigid Collins and Jim Stewart have made it their mission in life to help others through their not-for-profit organization Katy’s Courage.
As anyone who lives in or around Sag Harbor knows, the couple formed Katy’s Courage in 2012 in honor of their daughter, Katy Stewart, who died in 2010 at the age of 12 after a tenacious battle with cancer. Since then, her parents have done their part to “pass it on,” in her memory, to help others in need by providing scholarship opportunities to local children and hope, in the form of pediatric cancer research, to the families of others who have been stricken with the disease.
In just a few short years, Ms. Collins and Mr. Stewart have raised tens of thousands of dollars for these causes through the annual Katy’s Courage 5K fundraiser and the Classical Students for Katy’s Courage Benefit Concert here in the village and with the Skate-a-Thon and Bake Sale at Buckskill Winter Club in East Hampton. Recently, they partnered with the Children’s Museum of the East End in Bridgehampton to form the Katy’s Kids @ CMEE, a program designed to offer play and expressive support opportunities for children and adolescents and their families who are grieving the death of a loved one.
Now it’s their turn to be the recipients of a fundraising effort. Katy’s Courage will be one of two local charitable organizations to benefit from the Love Bites tasting event, which will feature dozens of local chefs and will be held on Saturday, January 30, from 6:30 to 10:30 at the Muses at the Greek Orthodox Church in Southampton (Note: the event was moved due to expected winter weather on January 23). The other recipient organization will be The Scarlett Fund, a Bridgehampton-based fundraising effort created by Jennifer and Robert James to awareness for pediatric cancer research in honor of their 8-year-old daughter, Scarlett James, who was diagnosed in 2013 with T Cell Lymphoma and was just declared cancer-free in December 2015.
The event, which will feature bites from approximately 30 local chefs, is all about doing good and bringing smiles to the community, says Chef Chairperson and Endless Summer Catering Owner Peter Ambrose, who partnered up with organizer Linda Shapiro for the benefit. With tastings from Chef Joe Realmuto of Honest Management, Chef Chen of Momi Ramen, Chef Sam McClelland of The Bell & Anchor, Chef Brent Newsome, 230 Elm, Art of Eating, The Meeting House, Chef Arthur Wolf of Smokin’ Wolf, Harvest on Fort Pond, Backbar Grille, Lobster Grille, Dina’s Delights, Matt Ketcham of Ketcham Seafarm, Silver Spoon Specialties, Tully’s Seafood Market & Café, Hampton Coffee Company, Edible Encores, Erica’s Rugelach & Baking Company, Golden Pear, Chef Joe Cipro and Saaz Indian Restaurant, their efforts should prove fruitful.
Attendees should expect more than just great food, says Chef Ambrose, adding that he will be serving up a new creation—pulled pork served with a purple potato hash and gruyere frittata with spicy salsa. The fundraiser will also be host to a festive atmosphere, auction items, special speakers, honorees—including Stephen Long of CMEE, Nina Landi of the Sag Harbor Elementary School and Dr. Diane Reidy-Lagunes of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center—and a few surprise celebrity guests.
“It’ll be kind of like a friendly food competition, without the actual competition part, and hopefully a kind of star-studded event too,” he says of Love Bites. “No, I can’t tell you who is supposed to show up but I think it’s going to be a great time no matter what.”
One big-name culinary pro who’s sure to be there is Chef Realmuto, who is the executive chef for Honest Man Restaurant Group, which includes Nick & Toni’s, Rowdy Hall, Townline BBQ and La Fondita. He’s planning on serving a tuna tartare taco, La Fondita-style. Giving back to the community is his aim in participating in this and various other charitable endeavors, he reports.
“We don’t do it for the press or to bring people in, we just want to show our support and give back for these good causes,” he says, adding that he urges other chefs, restaurateurs and food purveyors to join in whenever they can. “If you’re ever reading about them and want to participate, especially these winter events when we all have a bit more time and resources, reach out and just do it. You’ll find that it’s a pleasure to be involved.”
Though he’s not a chef, Mr. Stewart is in total agreement about the tremendous benefits of helping the East End community. His life has been changed since he and his wife formed Katy’s Courage.
“It’s incredible what our community is capable of,” he says. “I’ve seen it with our events and I’m experiencing it now as Love Bites has chosen to raise money for us and by honoring some of the people who have been instrumental in helping our community. We really appreciate the support.”
Love Bites will be held at The Muses at the Greek Orthodox Church of Southampton on Saturday, January 30, from 6:30 to 10 p.m. Ticket prices range from $125 to $750 and can be purchased online via Pay Pal at www.katyscourge.org or by check.