Heritage Park Raises $95,000 at Chefs’ Fundraiser

Photo by Leo Gozbekian

By Alin K. Gregorian

Mirror-Spectator Staff

Armenian Heritage Park Chefs’ Fundraiser Brings in $95,000

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Some of the most famous chefs in Boston came together on Wednesday, May 21, at the Royal Sonesta Hotel Boston, for the Chefs Party for Our Park fundraiser helping the Armenian Heritage Park. The program raised $95,000 for the upkeep of the park, which was officially opened and dedicated in 2012.

The participating chefs who had donated their time and food were Ana Sortun of Oleana, Sofra and Sarma; Andrew Hebert of Trade, Andrew Yeo of the Ritz Carlton; Brian Dandro of the Royal Sonesta; Brian Poe of Poe’s Kitchen, the Tip Tap Room and Estelle’s; Dante de Magistris of dante and il Casale; Gerard Tice of Omni Parker House; Jason Reed of Vicki Lee’s; Jeffrey P. Fournier of 51 Lincoln and Waban Kitchen; Jody Adams of Rialto and Trade; Julia Brant of North 26, Millennium Bostonian Hotel; Nathan Kibarian of the Ritz Carlton; Seta Dakessian of Seta’s Café and Vicki Lee Boyajian of Vicki Lee’s.

In addition, the Royal Sonesta had also donated its space.

About 360 people attended the bash, all expressing their pride in the creation of the park and their hope for its perpetual maintenance

Lu Ann Ohanian, one of the guests, said, “It feels so good to have representation of our heritage in Boston.”

After a cocktail reception in the hallway, guests filed into the Royal Sonesta’s grand ballroom, where small tables were set up as well as booths by the chefs.

One of the chefs that was mobbed and ended up running out of food was Fournier of 51 Lincoln and Waban Kitchen, who was serving lamb kibbe (raw, ground lamb) with parsley salad, based on his grandfather’s recipe. He recalled that Barbara Tellalian, a member of the benefit committee, and her husband, Don, the architect and designer of the park, including its labyrinth and abstract sculpture, had frequented Waban Kitchen and started talking to Fournier, not knowing he was Armenian because of his French last name. His mother, Fournier said, is a “Mansourian” and his Armenian grandfather “led me to become a chef.”

Seta Dakessian’s table was also mobbed, where she and her mother served tiny sandwiches with louleh kabab (grilled beef/lamb patties) served in a fresh tomato/onion sauce in homemade lavash (flat bread).

“I am here to support the Armenian Heritage Park,” said Dakessian.

Gerard Tice’s mini Boston cream pies created a lot of buzz. He said his creation was in tribute to Armenian-French Chef M. Sanzian, the chef for the Parker House in 1856, who had created the treat, now the official dessert of Massachusetts. Of course, Tice explained, it is not a pie at all but sponge cake with custard filling and ganache on top. It was called a pie because it was baked it a pie tin. Tice’s creation was incredibly moist and delicious and beautifully presented.

Other participants included Mark Mooradian’s MEM Tea Imports, wines from the Tutunjian Estate Vineyards, Iggy’s Breads of the World. Each participant got a goody bag with Boyajian oil and vinegar and nuts from Fastachi, now with stores in Watertown and the new one on Charles Street in Boston.

Nathan Kibarian had made a dessert called Pasta Flora, featuring a Greek-style sponge cake with apricot preserves and a white chocolate ganache in honor of his grandmother, helped by fellow chef Andrew Yeo. Their dessert was elegant and delicious.

Kibarian said he was delighted to partake in the program, saying, “[The Heritage Park] is a great thing for Boston. It is something to represent the Armenian Genocides and also all the other communities that experienced hardships. It’s giving something back.” Yeo praised the sculpture, calling it “very powerful.”

Brian Dandro’s deconstructed shepherd’s pie also won raves. He said he had decided to help out because in the past he had worked with Barbara Tellalian in Access Sport America. “Anything she is supporting I am happy to support,” Dandro said.

He was not alone, as several other chefs singled Tellalian out.

Barbara Tellalian instead thanked those others who had helped make the evening possible. She said, “Hats off to the Royal Sonesta Hotel and all the chefs! Their generosity and commitment to our park are incredibly impressive. That coupled the enthusiastic Benefit Committee and other extraordinary gifts in kind contributed to the evening’s delights.”

Speaking at the program were two original supporters of the Heritage Park in the State House, Middlesex County Sheriff Peter Koutoujian and Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development Rachel Kaprielian.

Said Koutoujian, “The entire park is a dream come true but it can easily vanish if we don’t maintain it. Not only its construction but also its future. I want this park to be there when my children can come independently and their children as well.”

In his comments to the crowd, Koutoujian singled out Gov. Deval Patrick for his support.

Kaprielian stressed the positive influence of the park on the community and its celebration of Armenians’ “ancient culture and our martyrs that we honor every single day in this park.”

Also speaking was James Kalustian, president of the Heritage Park Foundation, who thanked the crowd “for making the Armenian Heritage Park a reality. We can rise to the challenge and accomplish anything we want to,” he said.

Kalustian said that the foundation needs $2 million to ensure having in perpetuity the $80,000 necessary annually for the park’s upkeep. To date, $1.1 million has been raised toward that goal.

To send a contribution, mail a check made payable to Armenian Heritage Foundation, to: Charles P. Guleserian, Vice President, Armenian Heritage Foundation, 25 Flanders Road, Belmont, MA  02478 or visit http://www.armenianheritagepark.org/ to donate online.

Armenian Heritage Foundation is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt, non-profit organization.