NJ’s Top Chefs Team Up to Benefit Eva’s Village at Battello

The professional kitchen can be a ruthless place. To the outsider, it may seem intense and unforgiving. This is not a total misconception, but it is a thought that is only partially complete. Anyone who has worked in or around the kitchen will tell you that, yes, it is often cruel, tiresome, and borderline malicious; but all of that comes after it being one of the most caring places in the world. New Jersey chefs Robbie Felice of Viaggio and Osteria Crescendo, and Ryan DePersio of Battello, Fascino and Kitchen Step exemplify this. It’s also one of the many reasons they chose to support Eva’s Village.

Chef Robbie Felice at Osteria Crescendo in Westwood. Photo credit: Peter Bonacci

At first glance, Eva’s Village of Paterson, NJ may seem like a small local vocational school featuring a culinary program. However, what they offer is much more than just that. Eva’s Village is a non-profit that provides recovery and salvage through learning a craft such as cooking—a program that looks to refocus potential students energy elsewhere. When you are done with the program, they even help to locate you an internship so that you can take your newly developed skills into the real world. 

The school is funded entirely by donations, so that people in need can attend without the burden of debt. The mission is to help those struggling with poverty, addiction, homelessness, and mental illness. (And they do an amazing job at it, too.) In 2018, 92 percent of their culinary graduates were placed into food-service jobs. This, in many ways, is the fastest track to total recovery. In just six months, the program aims to have you back on your feet. This method of recovery gives one a focal point, something to devote a lot of time and energy into.

Chef Ryan DePersio at Battello in Jersey City.

When Felice heard about Eva’s Village, he immediately began taking interns from their program into Viaggio. Not long after, DePersio followed. So, when DePersio, who is looked up to by Felice, mentioned that he wanted to do an event with Eva’s Village, it was a no-brainer.

The Tasting event will take place Monday, September 16th at DePersio’s own Battello in Jersey City. A dozen of New Jersey’s best culinary masterminds will prepare tastes of their food for attending guests, and all of the proceeds go right back to Eva’s Village. 

Along with Felice and DePersio, chefs such as Leia Gaccione, Jamie Knott, AJ Capella, and others will be in attendance to show off their craft, and provide support to a program that means the world to them. Wine pairings, craft beer, cocktails and mocktails will be provided as well.

“Food is my life—it’s my craft. If my craft can help other people, well, I will jump at that opportunity every single time,” Felice told me when talking about the event. 

It is a night not to miss partially because of the elite level of talent that will be showcased in one 10,000-square-foot space, but mostly because of the pure cause that is driving this event. 

Tickets are still available here.