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FirstLine Schools, Dinner Lab’s ‘Dinner After the Bell’ brings young professionals together

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All photos courtesy of Ethan Gordon, Video/Photographer for FirstLine Schools.

Amidst the “greenness” of Samuel J. Green Charter School’s vegetable garden, last week, young New Orleans professionals were treated to a night of music, mingling, and a four-course menu courtesy of Dinner Lab of poached Gulf shrimp, smoked pork terrine, acorn squash agnolotti, cauliflower steak, fig glazed duck thigh, and pumpkin panna cotta at Dinner After the Bell!, a fundraising event in support of FirstLine Schools and sponsored by Circular Consulting, LLC.  
Attendees to Dinner After the Bell! included dozens of New Orleans professionals. Brian Egana, FirstLine Schools Vice Chair of the Board and President and Chief Executive/Financial Officer of Circular Consulting, LLC, said, “As a member of the Board of Directors, I felt not only compelled to invite colleagues, but also to sponsor the event because this is a young professionals event specifically. I wanted to be in support of encouraging young professionals to be more aware of the great things that FirstLine is doing.”
FirstLine Schools, Dinner Lab’s ‘Dinner After the Bell’ brings young professionals together |
CEO of FirstLine Schools Jay Altman continued, “I believe in creating great schools for all kids and particularly schools that have a well-rounded experience for students and that’s why the programming from FirstLine Schools is such a great experience for young people. And kids love it!” Attorney and Edible Schoolyard New Orleans Task Force member Gretchen Chase shared that sentiment. “FirstLine is doing very important things on many different levels. I believe in the mission and vision of FirstLine and it’s enjoyable to be able to be supportive at events like this.” 
“FirstLine Schools has so many programs that need and deserve support, such as the Career and Technical Education Program at Joseph S. Clark Preparatory High School,” added Dominique Harris, Director of Communication & Community Partnerships for FirstLine Schools. “Culinary education is another one of our tracks and we had several students working in the kitchen with the Dinner Lab folks. We also have a four-week summer camp and several other enrichment programs throughout all five schools (Arthur Ashe Charter School, Phillis Wheatley Community School, S.J. Green Charter Schools, Langston Hughes Academy, and Clark Prep High School).”

FirstLine Schools, Dinner Lab’s ‘Dinner After the Bell’ brings young professionals together | IntheNOLA.comAttorney and FirstLine Board Member Christian Rhodes confirmed, “We are recognizing some of the shifts that are taking place in the city both demographically and socioeconomically, and we are trying to accomplish the overall mission of ensuring that every child in the city goes to a good school. In order to do so, some of our younger professional staff are trying to reengage young professionals into the school system with a new way of reimagining and re-envisioning what a public school system should be or could be. Far too often, people write off public schools, especially young professionals that feel there is no way they can live in New Orleans with the cost of educating a child. We look at that as a challenge that we can overcome. A lot of us are from a generation that embraces challenges; we’re not stagnated by them.”

For these young professionals, the menu was nothing short of amazing. Dinner Lab Chef Stephen McCary explained that the menu was inspired by his grandfather. “My grandfather is from Moody, AL. When I was a kid, I had to help him out in the garden, which I hated because it was hot and there were bugs, but I was thinking about him when I was writing this menu. The agnolotti pasta was filled with acorn squash. We grew those as well as cauliflower, blackberries, and pumpkins. Although these aren’t dishes that my grandmother made, these dishes include the ingredients that my grandfather liked so that was the theme of this evening.”
FirstLine Schools, Dinner Lab’s ‘Dinner After the Bell’ brings young professionals together | IntheNOLA.comNewlyweds Alfonso and Allyn Gonzalez came out to support the organization, and of course, feast on the good eats! “Samuel J. Green is a client of mine and it’s a school that’s all about putting the children and their learning first,” said Alfonso. “And I really enjoyed the awesome conversation and signature cocktail of the evening.” Allyn continued, “I'm here as an extension of family, supporting the school and the fundraiser. I have to say how much I loved that the signature cocktail, The Green Thumb, was smooth and not overpowering and I just loved that it was made with ‘fresh from the garden’ basil. Although each dish was delicious, my favorite course was the cauliflower steak; I love when people do interesting things with cauliflower.”
Kamisha Gray, Lower School Principal at Samuel J. Green Charter School, exclaimed, “The dessert was my favorite, sweet and tangy. The signature cocktail was also fabulous!”
In New Orleans where we love fine dining, this event presents young professionals with the perfect excuse to indulge while creating relationships with other young professionals. Italian Pie Gentilly owner Uche Okpalbi concluded, “I've been looking forward to this for the last three weeks. Dominique let me know it was something I had to come to and I'm glad to support a program for kids.”
Last modified on Thursday, 29 October 2015
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