Friday, July 20th, 2018

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Rainbow Babies and Children?

Emeril Lagasse and Pamela Vas.
(Ride the Rainbow Patron Party with Emeril)

Emeril Lagasse with Kenn Ricci and his son, Austin
(Ride the Rainbow Patron Party with Emeril)

Kenn Ricci, Pamela Vas and Emeril Lagasse.
(Ride the Rainbow Patron Party with Emeril)

  Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital
Ride the Rainbow Patron Party with Emeril

 “Kenn and I love to entertain,” said Pamela Vas. Well, thank goodness, because her fiance, Kenn Ricci, volunteered their home to host a pre-party for Ride the Rainbow, the big biennial fundraiser for Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital. It was a first, and the benefit committee decided that the party would be for sponsors of $10,000 and up, but they needed a hook.
    Kenn is founder and chairman of Flight Options, headquartered at Cuyahoga County Airport. Emeril Lagasse has been a client and a friend of Kenn’s for 12 years. “It was easy to call and ask him, and he was happy to do it,” said Pamela. As soon as word spread that Emeril Lagasse would prepare the meal at Kenn and Pamela’s, the sponsors came forth and the expected number of guests doubled to almost 120.
    Emeril needed a local chef and caterer, and Pamela insisted on using her favorite, Mary Gromelski’s Gavi’s Catering. “Emeril loved Mary,” she said. Emeril sent two of his finest chefs in a few days early, Ronnie Rainwater, from Emeril’s Delmonico in Las Vegas, and Heath Cicerelli, from Emeril’s New Orleans Fish House. On the morning of the dinner, Kenn’s private plane picked up Pamela’s parents and sister from Marco Island, followed by Emeril in Boca Raton, where he had done a benefit the night before.
    When guests arrived, Emeril could be seen in the kitchen busily chopping away, looking up for the occasional picture. “Emeril worked the entire evening,” said Pamela. Guests enjoyed cocktails and fabulous passed hors d’oeuvres and were invited to wander at will. Pamela, Kenn and their family members were incredibly warm and welcoming. Their beautiful, sprawling home provides a marvelous setting for entertaining. The property sits on a bluff overlooking the scenic Chagrin River. The home’s open floor plan offers numerous seating areas that seamlessly weave the interior with terraces and decks outdoors.
    Dinner stations featured a clam boil, New Orleans seafood, including paella, and a carving station. Salads bursting with unexpected flavors accompanied the meal. It was a feast! To complement the food, Emeril had chosen wines from Kenn’s personal collection of superb Italian wines.
    When he addressed the gathering, Emeril said, “Kenn and I share a passion for children’s causes.” As a parting gift, he provided guests with autographed copies of his latest cookbook. What a guy! STORY by CAROLINE R. MERK/Photographs by Rob Wetzler


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