Hospitality with a purpose: Food pantries benefit in a big way from White Hall shows

Betty Wrenn Day - Posted on Aug 26, 2010 - 11:13 AM

The food pantries in Gloucester County will be much more plentiful due to the dedication and support of Mari Ann Banks and her husband Charlie. Recently "in the barn" at their home, White Hall Plantation on Ware River, more than $10,000 was raised for Gloucester’s food pantries plus enough packaged or canned foods to make 1,500 meals (donated by guests and matched by U.S. Foodservice).

This was the second year for Food From The Heart, a grand culinary experience, where guests were a part of a live audience and where many chefs shared their culinary skills giving all present a taste. White Hall was the culinary epicenter of Gloucester for two days.

Photo: Chef Spike Mendelsohn demonstrated how he makes hamburgers more than just hamburgers, even turkey burgers. Photo by Betty Wrenn Day

Chef Spike Mendelsohn demonstrated how he makes hamburgers more than just hamburgers, even turkey burgers. Photo by Betty Wrenn Day

U.S. Foodservice sponsored this outstanding event, but it was Mari Ann who pulled it all together and even graciously participated as a guest chef.

Chef Mark Eggerding is top chef at U.S. Foodservice. He conducted each of the shows held over two days, two sessions per day. While assisting each guest chef through demonstrations, Edderding gave cooking and food hints for all to use. "Do you know the difference between black pepper and white pepper? Black is the outer shell of the peppercorn while the white is the inner seed. Truffles are regarded as the diamond of cookery. The dye used to stamp the grades on meat is made from edible grape skin; thus it is good to eat and may add flavor to whatever meat you are cooking."

The guest chef first appearing was Mark Letchworth, chef and owner of Richardson’s Café in Mathews. Mark wowed the crowd with his Crabmeat Stuffed Shrimp and Crab Puppies. "Cooking is really a personal preference of taste," Mark confided. "The joy of cooking is my passion for food. The secret to my crabmeat mixture is the coarse ground mustard. To make cutting bread easier, freeze the bread, remove the crust and then cut. Freezing keeps the bread from mashing when you start cutting."

Mari Ann Banks followed Mark and treated everyone to her delicious Gazpacho. "I like to work with sea salt," Mari Ann said as she emphasized how much "I like good simple dishes."

Spike Mendelsohn concluded the televised show with his turkey burgers and spicy burgers with their special sauces and condiments. He said, "Recipes are made not to follow but to be broken."

U.S. Foodservice, known as the organization that "feeds America," is the second largest food service supplier in the country. It operates 60 distribution facilities that supply items for restaurants, hotels, schools, health-care facilities and institutional food service operators, and the chefs who are ready to assist in making the best use of their products.

White Hall is owned by Mr. and Mrs. Charles (Charlie) A. Banks. Charlie is chairman of the board at U.S. Foodservice. White Hall is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was built around 1836 and is one of Virginia’s grandest and finest homes. Its land patent dates to 1666.