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Joining Jasper In Supporting SPAC

January 6, 2016

My old friend La had a thing for men in uniform. Some people are into rock stars. Other folks are attracted to Hollywood icons. I guess in today’s day and age, there are those who gravitate towards the subjects of viral videos. My mom has a thing for rabbis.

I’ve got a soft spot for chefs.

To be fair, I also crush on bakers, farmers, and mongers of many stripes. And let’s not forget about distillers, brewers, winemakers, and those who are experts in the beverage field. I’m also into a handful of writers, editors, and cultural provocateurs. What can I say, I’m a lover not a fighter.

Stalking is such a nasty word. So instead, let’s just say I’ve been fascinated by one of our local chefs for the past few years. While our paths have never directly crossed, I’ve been getting closer and closer to him. Soon, he’s hosting a big food event in support of a great local arts organization. And thanks to my job with Yelp, I’ve got the chance to help promote it and give away a pair of tickets.

Hattie’s Restaurant was on my radar long before I knew the names Beth or Jasper Alexander.

I got to learn more about the couple who are currently the owners of this Saratoga Springs institution when I interviewed Beth as part of my involvement with Dining Out For Life back in 2013. That’s when I found out that we had a CIA-trained chef who cut his teeth at fine dining restaurants behind the fryers at a place beloved by tourists to the track.

Yes, I really enjoyed that fried chicken sandwich the couple developed for the Saratoga Race Course, and now sells at Hattie’s Chicken Shack year round. But I didn’t get a taste for what Chef Jasper could do until recently.

Late last year I reached out to Beth and asked her if Jasper would like to participate in the Upstate New York Regional Dinner project. It turns out he was was eager to focus come culinary creativity toward trying to define an Upstate New York cuisine.

Do you remember the menu he submitted for an Upstate New York Regional Dinner? There were so many menus that came back, some were posted here, but others were shared on All Over Albany. Jasper really hit this one out of the park.

Well, now he’s throwing a party on Saturday, January 16.

Apparently Miss Hattie had a legacy of giving money to charity. So Beth and Jasper maintain that spirit with their annual Mardi Gras soiree, which raises money for local not-for-profit organizations. This year, in honor of its 50th anniversary, SPAC will be the recipient of the funds.

You can see pictures of past events here. But Jasper is cooking, so there will be great food. There will be music. And presumably, there will be something to drink. It is a Mardi Gras party after all.

I would have helped to spread the word about this event on my own. But I’m doing a much larger promotional push as part of my job with Yelp. You’ll see the event featured in the sponsorship spot of this week’s Local Yelp newsletter, which goes out to everyone in the Capital Region with a Yelp account. Trust me when I tell you that’s a lot of people.

Yelp is also giving away a pair of tickets to the event. So, I thought you might want to know how to enter too. I’ll be at the event, and it would be great to see some of you there. But also entering to win is super easy, and the odds of winning are relatively favorable.

All you do is go to the Yelp event page, which is here. From there, all you need to do is click “Sounds Cool” and you’re entered. That’s it. The only catch is that you do need to have a profile picture to qualify. Ideally, it would be a pic of your sweet face. But a beloved family pet, or even a snapshot of something you just ate would be perfectly fine.

If you don’t have a Yelp profile, in the upper right hand corner, you’ll see a query that says “Are You Interested?” Click the “Respond” box and you’ll be directed to create a Yelp profile.

At noon on Friday, the contest will be closed. will pick the lucky winner of the pair of tickets, and that person will be notified through their Yelp account. Those who don’t win will still have time to purchase tickets to join me and Jasper for a delicious night out in support of a great regional arts organization.

I’ve also been hearing rumbles about an unofficial FLB get together at Esperanto after the benefit. Mostly because as much as I have a soft spot for chefs and their events, I also have a soft spot for doughboys. So, it may be hard to leave town without getting a fix.

More on that to come as we get closer to the event. But for now, I wish you luck, and hope you’ll join me one way or another for Mardi Gras, Saratoga Style.


Note: The Yelp ticket giveaway has ended. Thanks for playing. Congratulations to Lauren L. But I’d love to still see you at the party this Saturday. You can buy tickets here.

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