Invite guests, let marinate

Invite guests, let marinate

Gerrard Berman holds tasteful fundraiser

It was well past 11 p.m. on a school night, and yet Chef Carrie Weiss and a group of young parents from Gerrard Berman Day School, Solomon Schechter of North Jersey in Oakland were still luxuriating in the living room of Joan and Dan Silna’s Saddle River home. Months of planning and three days of preparation had resulted in an evening full of epicurean pleasures, and the participants were celebratory.

Conceived in response to the hackneyed suburban get-together, where chips and dip and “pigs in blankets” are served without fanfare, “Reclaim Cocktail Hour,” the May 3 fundraiser for GBDS, welcomed 80 supporters from throughout the community to experience three chic cocktail parties in one.

“Anyone can entertain,” Chef Weiss told the crowd. “It’s really about the people in the room. All that is required are a few good recipes, attention to detail, and some whimsy. Guests vibrate off of their hosts. If you are going to be rushed and haggard, well, why bother?”

The Silnas’ house is designed for entertaining. In the spacious kitchen, each of the three islands was decorated to advance a theme: Springtime in Provence, Zen Fusion, and Come to the Casbah. Portions were plentiful. Guests gushed over the onion tarts, the summer rolls, and the mouth-watering mint-edamame mash. The saffron cous cous and the orange and carrot salad with dates were like a magic carpet ride, transporting taste buds directly to the spice markets of Jerusalem’s Old City.

Each buffet hailed a signature drink: Guests sipped Kir royale in Provence, savored agave-sweetened mint tea in the Orient, and finally, at the Casbah, relished the spicy pear and orange sangria that made some tipsy. Desserts included baklava and meringues topped with whipped cream and kiwi. The light and airy macaroons donated by Mocha Bleu, in Teaneck, rivaled those from Pierre Hermes in Paris.

“It was a classy evening in support of the Gerrard Berman Day School and its superior program,” said Joan Silna. “I learned some unbelievable recipes, but Carrie’s right – it’s about the people in the room, and we love these people.”

Weiss is at work on a kosher cookbook. To reach her, e-mail

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