It was, as they say, a winning combination: a vast spread of gastronomic delight laid out before a crowd of more than 200 gathered for an important cause in a stunning setting.
Toast on the Coast, a benefit for Easter Seals Maine, was a foodie’s paradise, with endless trays of delectable treats from some of Portland’s most sought-after chefs and an array of spirits to enjoy. The beautiful backdrop of Casco Bay provided by the Ocean Gateway was icing on the cake.
“You mix good food, good wine and a good cause, and it’s hard to turn down,” said Pete Dubuc of South Portland, enjoying the many temptations on hand with his wife, Sarah, who was celebrating her birthday.
“It’s a great opportunity to taste wine,” said Joseph Ybarra, who was joined by his wife, Margaret, who writes the fashion blog 5thandmagnolia.com. “We’re kind of wannabe foodies.”
Amie Marzen, a board member of Easter Seals Maine, was joined by her friend Jennifer Kanwit of ghSMART.
Kristin Korda, Miss Maine, chatted with emcees Andrew Menard and Erin Ovalle, the morning anchor at WMTW Channel 8.
“I am so proud to support this endeavor,” said Ovalle, gazing out over the crowd of people sampling savory morsels from restaurants like Nosh and Sea Glass at Inn by the Sea, not to mention sweet creations like mocha eclairs from Petite Jacqueline and raspberry mousse tartlets from The Winey Baker.
Mark Cook of L.L. Bean mingled with Dennis Brown, chairman of the board of Easter Seals Maine and his wife, Nancy, of Falmouth, while Erica Archer of Wine Wise offered a wine education every half-hour on different grape varieties.
Dan Gibbons of Portland and Cyndi Smith, Maine Magazine’s director of events and sponsorships, admired the handiwork of Maine Chef of the Year 2012 David Turin of David’s Restaurant as he shared fun stories of cooking at home while whipping up yet another fabulous concoction guests couldn’t wait to get their hands on.
Toast on the Coast is the nonprofit’s second largest fundraiser of the year and it supports services for children with disabilities as well as a new veteran service program.
“We are a resource for families facing challenges that are developmental, physical, educational and vocational,” explained Gail Wilkerson, executive director of Easter Seals Maine. “Core services are early intervention and serving kids and families faced with an autism diagnosis to reach as many developmental milestones as possible. Ultimately, we want them to have as much independence as possible. My son is one of those children, and it is a devastating diagnosis.”
Laura Krawczyk was the evening’s guest speaker and a mother of two children under the age of 5 with autism.
“I had a boy who would not look me in the eye and stared at trains for hours, and now he is getting ready for kindergarten,” she said, clearly overcome with emotion as the crowd listened intently to her story. “I am so thankful you are here to support us.”
As the evening began to wind down, Krawczyk explained just how much Easter Seals Maine has meant to her family on their journey.
“They’ve taught me how to be a parent with autistic children, and how to be a better parent to them. They are so kind. They love my kids and they are so invested in them. Their early intervention and help has allowed me to be a mom.”
For more information about Easter Seals Maine, please visit www.eastersealsme.org.
Margaret Logan is a freelance writer who lives in Scarborough. She can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org