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New Emcees, Caterer Announced for West Hartford’s Mayor’s Charity Ball

Dennis House and Kara Sundlun will emcee the 2018 Mayor's Charity Ball. Courtesy photo

The 19th Annual Mayor’s Charity Ball, which benefits West Hartford nonprofits, has a new catering partnership and a favorite local couple will emcee the event.

Dorjan Puka (left) and Scott Miller of DORO Catering & Events, the Mayor’s Charity Ball caterer for 2018. Courtesy photo

By Ronni Newton

Details are now in place for one of West Hartford’s signature events, the Mayor’s Charity Ball, and the planning committee is pleased to announce its partnership with DORO Catering & Events, as well as its new emcees, Dennis House and Kara Sundlun.

DORO Restaurant Group is headed by West Hartford resident and restaurateur Dorjan Puka, who partners with West Hartford’s Scott Miller to run West Hartford’s highly successful restaurants Treva, Àvert Brasserie, and Zohara Mediterranean Kitchen. DORO Catering & Events caters at homes and businesses throughout the area, and hosts events such as the Westmoor Park Farm Dinner.

Guests at this year’s gala will be treated to an array of foods showcasing the unique flavors of each of DORO’s restaurants. During the cocktail hour, passed hors d’oeuvres will include truffle-scented chevre and asparagus arancini, lemongrass duck satay, and lamb meatballs with smoked eggplant puree.

Cured Italian charcuterie and artisanal cheeses will be offered at reception stations, along with a selection of Zohara’s fresh Mediterranean specialities.

The three-course dinner, served under the Grande Tent provided and decked out by longtime event sponsor Taylor Rental of Manchester, will feature mesquite roasted angus New York strip steak and fennel-dusted sea bass.

“We are thrilled to be involved with the West Hartford Mayor’s Charity Ball,” Puka said in the announcement. “Our restaurants have been part of the West Hartford landscape for eight years, and we provide employment for over 150 highly skilled restaurant professionals.”  Puka said that he and his team enjoy giving back to the community.

“DORO Restaurant Group has a strong history of helping many local charities and fund raisers by donating gift cards and auction items,” Miller said in the announcement. “We are firmly established in West Hartford and are proud of our community involvement. We have enjoyed critical acclaim from our guests who appreciate our focus on high quality, fresh, seasonal foods, beverages and superior service. In addition to the businesses that we operate in West Hartford, we both reside in West Hartford, our children attend or have attended West Hartford public schools and our families are involved in and support many civic activities.”

Following cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, and the silent auction, House and Sundlun, news anchors with WFSB’s Channel 3, will take the stage under the Grande Tent to emcee the rest of the evening’s activities.

“We are honored and excited to take part in such a great event in such a great town that is a huge part of our lives. Mayor Cantor is so much fun and we look forward to helping her raise money for a such a wonderful cause,” House said in an announcement. A 26-year veteran of WFSB, House is an Emmy award-winning anchor and moderator of Face the State.

For the Mayor’s Charity Ball, House will share the emcee duties with his wife, Kara Sundlun, who is also an Emmy Award winning journalist and anchor with WFSB. She co-hosts the weekly Better Connecticut show with Scot Haney, and is also the author of “Finding Dad: From Love Child to Daughter.”

Auctioneer Gary Katz. Courtesy photo

Professional auctioneer Gary Katz will host the auction portion of the evening. Katz, vice president of Capital Recovery Group (CRG), donates his time as auctioneer for various charitable organizations. He is responsible for CRG’s day-to-day operations, as well as the company’s auctions, dispositions, liquidations and appraisals, continually refining processes and best practices employed by a team of experts.  

After dinner and the auction, guests will dance the night away until midnight to the live music of the popular dance and party band Locomotion. A cash bar will be available.

“The Mayor’s Charity Ball is a special and memorable event that supports two of West Hartford’s most impactful charities,” West Hartford Mayor Shari Cantor said in a news release announcing this year’s event. “West Hartford’s tradition of giving has kept these charities effective and thriving, and reflects the community’s caring for each other, making West Hartford a wonderful place to live, work, and play for everyone.”

The recipients of monies raised from the Ball will once again be Playhouse on Park and The Town That Cares. According to organizers, proceeds from the 2017 event supported the increased demand for  use of the West Hartford Food Pantry as well as youth programming at the Playhouse.

“The Town that Cares responds to our basic belief that no one should go hungry. Playhouse on Park, a professional theater, adds a tremendous vitality to our community,” Cantor said. “These nonprofits add character to our town, and the Mayor’s Charity Ball is able to support them with funds because of the community’s generosity and engagement that is a part of our fabric of life.”

The Town That Cares Fund has seen a dramatic increase in requests for assistance over the past several years, and Community Partnerships Manager Suzanne Oslander said that the number of bags of food distributed by the Food Pantry rose by 20 percent – from 5,000 to 6,000 – over the past fiscal year, and by a staggering 617 percent over the past 10 years.

Playhouse on Park offers high-quality entertainment at an affordable cost to a wide audience, and since its founding in 2009 the organization has played an important role in the fabric and diversity of West Hartford. Tracey Flater, the executive director of Playhouse on Park, noted that the organization has received critical acclaim, including from the New York Times.

Since its inception, the Mayor’s Charity Ball has been committed to helping the community. The event was established by then-mayor Rob Bouvier in 2000, and has been supported by his successors Jonathan Harris, Scott Slifka, and Cantor. This is Cantor’s second year presiding over the Ball, which was moved to the lawn of Town Hall in 2011.

Tickets to the Mayor’s Charity Ball are now on sale, and the entire community is invited to attend. Tickets are $200 per person, and guests may also purchase tables. To purchase tickets, or for more information, visit the website.

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  • […] WFSB Channel 3’s Dennis House and Kara Sundlun will co-host the ball. DORO Catering & Even… will serves the official caterer. Guests will dine on an array of delicious homemade fare, showcasing the flavors and styles specific to each DORO Group restaurant, which include Treva, Àvert Brasserie, and Zohara. Passed hors d’oeuvres include truffle-scented chevre and asparagus arancini, lemongrass duck satay, and lamb meatballs with smoked eggplant puree. In addition, reception stations showcase a selection of cured Italian charcuterie and artisanal cheese, and a Taste of Zohara – the newest DORO Group endeavor – boasting a fresh and authentic taste of the Mediterranean cuisine. […]

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