Sweet Charity Fund-Raiser Cuts Attendance, Keeps 2010 Revenue

By D. Channing Muller April 27, 2011, 1:30 PM EDT

Photo: Photo: Tony Brown/Im

The Heart of America Foundation and Albert Uster Imports returned to the Mandarin Oriental on Monday night for the 10th Sweet Charity fund-raiser, a dessert-focused event that raises money for books for local impoverished children. After experiencing overcrowding and long lines last year, with 1,000 people in attendance, organizers capped tickets sales at 800 and raised prices from $95 to $110 to recoup the revenue.

“We took a look at other events in D.C., and, knowing the type of event this is and quality of chefs, we thought that we could be more competitive with our price and continue to raise the proceeds for books for children in the city,” said Carlamae Chavez, manager of events and special projects for the foundation.

Despite the price increase, the event sold out and brought in $5,000 more in ticket sales than last year. Overall, the night’s revenue remained on par with 2010, raising about $150,000.

Nearly 50 local chefs and restaurants participated in the event, including 15 newcomers like Top Chef winner Spike Mendelsohn. The tasting tables offered a variety of sweet bites like mini cakes, chocolates, and bite-size desserts, as well as a few savory options like barbecued pork shoulder, cheese fritters, and scallops served multiple ways.

Syzygy Event Productions once again designed the five event areas, including four color-themed meeting rooms hosting the tasting tables, as well as the ballroom, where the night’s main entertainment, the chocolate fashion show with costumes, took place. Chefs created costumes of children’s book characters made from chocolate and sugar. Costumes were judged on criterion like trueness to character and percentage of edible parts in the garment. Pastry chef Shaun McCarty from the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center took home top honors for his depiction of Gretel from the fairy tale “Hansel and Gretel.”

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