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So many factors go into a great party. It takes someone with good organizational skills, the right venue, terrific food and booze and a convivial blend of people for an event to soar. All of those things came together on June 13, when many of the borough’s restaurants and wineries, artists and writers, fashion designers, models and partygoers, gathered for a spirited arts festival.

The event was "Share Our Strength’s Taste of the Nation 2006," a benefit that helps fund organizations committed to addressing immediate and long-term solutions to hunger and poverty.

Randee Braham of Pass It On Public Relations in Park Slope served as the chairperson.

"It was a great cultural event. Everywhere I looked, people were smiling. The sponsors I spoke to said they got as much back from the crowd as they gave. All and all it was just a wonderful time," Braham said the day after the party.

The Tobacco Warehouse - a huge, open-air brick structure, that was covered with a tent for the evening’s festivities inside the Empire Fulton-Ferry State Park in DUMBO - served as a hip setting.

For "VIPs" (those who purchased a ticket to the event for $125, or $50 more than the regular admittance, and were allowed to enter an hour before the general public), a tent with a flower-bedecked entrance served as a private club. Inside, attendees lounged on silk-covered chairs and placed their cocktails on low tables strewn with gardenias. Partygoers nibbled on sushi from Blue Ribbon in Park Slope, while sipping glasses of crisp Iron Horse Classic Vintage Brut 2001 from Charmer Industries. After the sushi, they cleared their palates with Fritz Knipschildt’s classic chocolate truffles offered by Park Slope’s The Chocolate Room.

Most of the fun transpired in the huge, main area, where a catwalk was erected centerstage. Midway through the evening, bootylicious models shook their bods in fashions by Big Girls United, designed for "thick and sexy ladies." Brooklyn Industries (with several locations in the borough, and two Fifth Avenue shops in Park Slope), Razor for men, and Serene Rose (who supplied garments by Shawn Christopher Kelley’s "Christopher" label) contributed outfits for the runway.

Of course, there was great food. More than 25 restaurants contributed dishes. Chef Julie Farias, of Fort Greene’s Ici, sprinkled big grains of crunchy sea salt over her chicken liver "schnitzel" for a delectable snack. Marc Lahm of Henry’s End in Brooklyn Heights cut the richness of raw tuna with a sinus clearing dab of mustard oil. Chef Amanda Freitag of Park Slope’s Sette Enoteca e Cucina, topped a chickpea fritter, called "panelle," with a rich, sweet and sour eggplant caponata. Paul Vicino of Five Front in DUMBO offered messy-but-delicious lamb ribs with mint chutney.

And that was just some of the offerings on the savory side of the menu. Thomas Ferlesch of Thomas Beisl in Fort Greene, served a warm farmer cheese strudel with vanilla sauce and berries. Chocolate lovers snacked on bittersweet brownies from Red Hook’s Baked. There were slices of Junior’s cheesecake from the famous Downtown Brooklyn restaurant, and rice pudding with summer fruit from Taco Chulo in Williamsburg.

Attendees could get their groove on with a nice booze buzz courtesy of Soda Bar in Prospect Heights, which poured a refreshing mint julep made with Woodford Reserve bourbon, and The Lighthouse Tavern in Park Slope’s sweet "watermelon whisky smashers," made with Jack Daniel’s.

Local businesses were generous with their auction donations. Chef Saul Bolton offered lucky bidders the "Saul Tasting Menu for Two," a dinner paired with wines at his cozy Smith Street eatery.

A makeshift gallery was erected to display local artists’ work and several authors, including Crown Heights author Joel Derfner (Random House’s "Gay Haiku"), were on hand signing copies of their latest books.

Braham didn’t have an exact figure for ticket sales, but she estimated the event brought in $20,000 (not including bids from the auction). One hundred percent of the monies go to organizations like City Harvest and God’s Love We Deliver that offer aid in the form of food and education to low-income individuals.

At the end of the evening, the sky had turned a pinkish hue and the lights of the Brooklyn Bridge twinkled. It was a fitting finale for a great party held for such an important cause.

For more information about Share Our Strength, visit

Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010
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