Of all the fancy fare indulged in during the next few weeks, few meals will be as anticipated as the The Beatrice Bennett Great Aspirations Memorial Scholarship fundraising feast on Saturday, December 20, at the Portuguese-American Club in Oak Bluffs. For Island food aficionados, and anyone who wants to taste a bit of the legend, celebrated chef and former proprietor of Tisbury Inn Café and Louis’ Tisbury Café, Louis Giordano, will be simmering the Alfredo sauce, and rolling the dinner rolls in poppy seeds, to honor the memory of his longtime friend and raise funds for the scholarship created in her name.
A press release sent by The Bennett Family states that “after a long battle with cancer, Beatrice ‘Beach’ Bennett passed away earlier this fall.” Louis Giordano knew Beach for years as a friend and patron of his café, but it was last winter, during an extended visit in Sicily at the family’s home, that Louis and Beach grew much closer. “She was a remarkable woman,” Louis told The Times. “She was warm and welcoming and forgiving and understanding, and so laid back, it was such a pleasure to be in her company.”
The inspiration to create a scholarship came from Beach’s daughter, Bella, to solidify the legacy of a woman who “was notorious for both helping people realize their goals and achieve them. This scholarship will offer aid not only to college-bound graduates, but also to graduates who aspire to participate in a nonprofit organization or program, such as a NOLS or Outward Bound course,” stated The Bennett Family.
Total ticket proceeds will go toward the unique scholarship honoring the bright spirit of Beach Bennett and the young people at MVRHS and the Charter School who will benefit from her legacy. Louis said he “is honored” to be rolling up his sleeves for the benefit, and “a little daunted, but excited” to be bringing some of his best-loved dishes back to Vineyard residents.
“We always cooked everything from scratch at the café, so of course, we have to do it for Beach,” Mr.Giordano said. “Over Thanksgiving weekend I was back home in New York having breakfast in a small café that had great baguettes. I bought a dozen day-old baguettes to bring back to the Island, grind up, bake, and season for my homemade breadcrumbs.”
The buffet-style dinner will include Louis’s famous vegetable and chicken lasagnas, lemon chicken, vegetarian cheese and bean enchiladas, sesame noodles, carrot soup, gazpacho, and of course, his much beloved “TICS,” poppyseed dinner rolls. “People still stop me at Cronig’s, at the post office, to ask me about the TIC rolls. A guy who used to bring them home each year for Thanksgiving said the year I closed the café, he couldn’t go home because he couldn’t bring the TICS,” Louis laughed.
When Bella and Bill Bennett decided to establish a scholarship fund in memory of Beach, Louis recounted, “We started talking about raising money, and because nearly every day someone stops to tell me they miss the salad bar, the lasagna, the subs…we thought, why don’t we do a one-night-only at Louis’, everything on the menu could come straight from the old days.”
Mr.Giordano’s longtime connection with the Bennetts resembles the interwoven friendships of so many Island residents. Through work, family, leisure, and time, he hopes “that these special connections which make our community so close” will once again prove strong by “showing up to support such a great woman and wonderfully unique scholarship for our high school graduates.”
“The Beatrice Bennett Great Aspirations Memorial Scholarship Fundraiser,” Saturday, December 20, P-A Club. Dinner catered by Louis Giordano, silent auction to follow. Drinks at 6 pm, dinner at 7 pm. Island band Goodnight Louise will play; $75 per person available at Midnight Farm in Vineyard Haven, and Conroy Apothecary in Oak Bluffs and West Tisbury.
Donations can also be made via check. Please Specify the “Beatrice Bennett Fund,” in the memo, and send checks to: Permanent Endowment for Martha’s Vineyard, PO Box 1182, Oak Bluffs, MA 02557.