May 28, 2014
11:52 AMArts & Entertainment
Faith Middleton of 'Food Schmooze' Chairs Delicious Woodbury Gala for a River
There’s a saying in the fine dining world that goes (with slight variations) like this: Food trends may come and go but quality never goes out of style.
Faith Middleton, the public radio visionary behind “The Faith Middleton Show” on WNPR, has long been the best part of the equation above; she may start off as a trend for those who newly discover her, but she quickly becomes—notably through her branded show-within-a-show “The Food Schmooze”—what she is for connoisseurs: Quality that never goes out of style.
That explains why here at Connecticut Magazine, in conjunction with our readers, we voted her “Best Radio Talk Show Host” for 11 years.
In a fun and exciting way, Middleton just gilded her status as a time-tested classic with new dual citizenship; she’s also one of the hottest food-related trends in Connecticut right now.
A week ago, on May 21, she sent an email to a long list of her friends and others who have a passionate interest in food and wine, saying, "Join us online any time, dear friends, at foodschmooze.org. Cheers!”
It was Middleton’s way of announcing that the website for “The Food Schmooze” had gone live, and the email occasioned a chain of congratulatory praise for the newest, hottest, and, yes, even trendiest addition to the ranks of insiders covering the food scene in Connecticut and beyond through digital media.
And trendy is hardly a dirty word in this case, as, with all things Faith Middleton, quality never goes out of style—and neither does the excitement of "The Food Schmooze", or Middleton’s impressive sphere of influence. (Above, gathered under the big tent on the lawn at last year’s fund-raising event for the Pomperaug River Watershed Coalition are, from left: Alexandra Hildreth; Rosemary Giuliano, of Giuliano, Richardson & Sfara; Mill House owner and event host William Hildreth; Honorary Event Chair and WNPR radio host and executive producer Faith Middleton, and Mara Sfara.)
Which explains why a certain editor found himself greeted by the following declaration from Bob Heusted, owner of Middlebury Fine Wine & Spirits, when stopping in to grab a bottle of Les Vignes de Bila-Haut Cotes du Roussillon Villages from M. Chapoutier: “Oh, you heard about it on Faith Middleton’s show!” (The editor gently protested that he knew the wine already, but acknowledged having checked out Middleton’s post about it on her new website.)
All the folks making a run on Bila-Haut in Middlebury—and anywhere else—have a chance to compare food and wine notes with Middleton first-hand in their extended back yard on June 7, when she helps the Pomperaug River Watershed Coalition celebrate its 15th anniversary with a “unique” fund-raising al fresco event in the lovely gardens of Mill House Antiques & Gardens in Woodbury.
A Litchfield County Times story advancing last year’s event, for which Middleton was also Honorary Chair, sums up the appeal of the fund-raiser and the work of the watershed coalition, and all of the details on this year’s version—via the coalition—are below.
On Saturday June 7, The Scene on the River, at Woodbury’s Mill House Antiques and Gardens, will feature interesting “vignettes” at every turn. Friends and supporters of the Pomperaug River Watershed Coalition will stroll about the beautiful gardens of the Mill House and encounter plein-air painters capturing the scene, fly-fishers showing their skills, an expert chef demonstrating specialty grilling, talented musicians, and singers and dancers popping up here and there among the perennial borders. Guests will also enjoy fine food and wine, as well as silent and live auctions.
“It will be an entertaining garden party with surprises for all. Everyone will enjoy this lively celebration of our 15th anniversary!” said Len DeJong, Executive Director of PRWC. Since 2000, the Coalition, in partnership with local and state government agencies and area businesses, and with the support of local residents and volunteers, has helped preserve and protect the Pomperaug Watershed through scientific research and community educational outreach.
The host for the event is William Hildreth, owner of the Mill House, the famed antiques shop and informal Woodbury landmark. The Honorary Chair is Faith Middleton, a strong supporter of PRWC and host and executive producer of the popular, long-running Faith Middleton Show on WNPR. The thought-provoking and engaging interviewer is heard in prime time six days a week in Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New York. She has been voted “Best Radio Talk Show Host” for 11 years by the readers and editors of Connecticut magazine; is a two-time recipient of the Peabody Award, the “Pulitzer” of broadcast journalism; has received the Mark Twain Award as well as the Distinguished Public Service Award of the Connecticut Bar Association; and was inducted into the prestigious Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame “for her extraordinary work as host of The Faith Middleton Show.”
From 4:30 to 7:30 that Saturday afternoon, guests will come upon a variety of unique vignettes on the lawns and in the gardens of the Mill House. “It will all be a feast for the eyes, ears, and appetite!” said PRWC Board member Anne Delo. Guests will hear Femina Melodia, a well-known area a cappella group, as well as strolling musicians and young singers and dancers including a very young “garden fairy” playing the guitar. Classical guitarist Buzz Turner will play warm and mellow music on his contemporary acoustic fingerstyle guitar. Woodwind Duet Demaris and Eric Hansen will perform popular tunes from the Renaissance and Baroque repertoire.
Carol Byer-Alcorace, executive chef and manager of The Provender, an award-winning feature at Woodbury’s New Morning Market, will make delicious presentations of grilled healthy food. Food stations dotted about the lawns will feature fine fare from Lynne Ramsden and Kim-Mai Mahon, and bars will feature wines and soft drinks.
Two fly-fishermen will cast into the Nonnewaug River as it runs along the banks of the Mill House and will talk about the art of fly-fishing. Featured plein-air artists will include Robert Noreika, a nationally prominent painter whose work is in museums, galleries, and private collections here and abroad; Diane Dubreuil, a signature member of the international Plein Air Painters worldwide; Zufar Bikbov, a Russian-born Connecticut painter of prize-winning landscapes who also conducts painting workshops; and Ellie Boyd, an experienced portait and landscape painter from Woodbury and founder of the Pomperaug Outdoor Painters, a group that promotes landscape painting and camaraderie among artists, and that has a special focus on helping organizations that conserve the beauty of the natural landscape.
Under a tent on the lawn, an expansive silent auction will feature plein-air paintings, fly-fishing and skiing packages, Thule and Patagonia products, spa packages, gift certificates for local jewelers and restaurants, and many other items. The live auction will feature the high-energy comic patter of the team of Paul Largay, of Largay Travel, and Dr. Peter Jacoby, Chairman of Emergency Medicine of St. Mary’s Hospital in Waterbury. Auction highlights include nights at Winvian and at the Mayflower Grace hotel, three days at Kamalame Cay private island in the Bahamas, and and exclusive cruise for 12 people on the Quassy Queen that is paired with a basket of fine artisanal whiskeys selected by PRWC Directors.
The gold sponsor of the event is Thule, Inc. Silver sponsors are Connecticut Community Foundation, Milone and MacBroom, Inc. a consulting of Cheshire, the law offices of Giuliano, Richardson & Sfara LLC, and the Aquarion Water Company. Bronze sponsors are Union Savings Bank, Civil 1 engineering, Hine Bros. construction, Woodbury Green South, and Northeast Utilities.
Rain date for the event is the next day, Sunday June 8. Tickets are $75 and are on sale at the Coalition’s website, www.pomperaug.org, or call 203-263-0076.
Faith Middleton of 'Food Schmooze' Chairs Delicious Woodbury Gala for a River