Harvest Dinner 2019

The first event at This Old Church was an amazing fall evening with lively entertainment and a memorable meal, featuring local products, local purveyors, a certified master chef and a star baker. All taking place in a one-of-a-kind, historic building in scenic and historic Vernon Center, New York!

This Harvest Dinner is rooted in history, carrying on a long tradition of harvest dinners at the Presbyterian church. We’re paying homage to that tradition of bringing the community together to celebrate the season’s bounty for an evening with neighbors friends, old and new.

THANK YOU to the 135 guests and two dozen helpers, who came from near and far (from next door to San Diego, CA), for being part of this memorable evening!

In addition to funding the restoration of another front stained glass window, we donated $3,200 in proceeds to Clear Path for Veterans.

Guests arrived by traditional horse and carriage provided by Maple Hedge Farm, after a tour around historic Maple Park. They received hot mulled cider and a gift bag containing a limited edition pin based on the front door knob design (Egyptian Revival pin), historic Vernon Center photos and various gifts from local businesses.

The Meal

When my colleague and friend Chef Ron DeSantis, one of about 70 certified master chefs in the world, offered to help with the menu and meal, I was flattered. The goal was to create a seasonal and memorable meal, served family-style, that included as many local flavors as possible. Ron made it happen! He was supported in the preparation by Chef Larry Watkins, with catering by Chris Destito and kitchen team at the Savoy Restaurant in Rome.

My friend and classmate Andrea Maranville, runner-up in the Great American Baking Show and owner of Silver City Baking Co. created beautiful vanilla bean ricotta cupcakes and chocolate tort for everyone. And Maria Macrina, who founded The Cremeria in nearby Clinton, completed the dessert plate with 3 seasonally-inspired flavors of gelato!

Fresh Milk Bread Salad Rolls * Silver City Baking
Brussel Sprout Salad with Dried Cranberries
Charred Cherry Tomato Caprese
Endive, Apple and Smoked Almond Salad
Butternut Squash Hummus with Smoked Paprika Squash * Swistak Farm
Hot Mulled Cider * Clinton Cider Mill

Main Course and Sides
Coq au Vin Chicken Legs
Braised Beef Short Ribs
Sweet Potato Mash with Chives * Simmons Farm and Arnie’s Produce
Roasted Rainbow Carrots with Ancient Seeds

Flourless Chocolate Tort with Ganache Glaze, Cranberry Sauce * Silver City Baking
Vanilla Bean Ricotta Cupcakes, frosted with Italian Meringue Buttercream * Silver City Baking
Pear Sorbet, Pumpkin Spice Gelato, Cinnamon Gelato * The Cremeria

Supporting Worthy Causes

One goal for the dinner was to raise awareness of the importance and beauty of the historic stained glass windows, involving the community in their preservation.

But when given the opportunity, I believe we should help others too. I chose Clear Path for Veterans in Chittenango as the other beneficiary, a place my dad, Don Law, volunteers with his friend Tom Schmitz. Clear Path CEO, Bill Smullen spoke at the dinner to help raise awareness of their important programs, including culinary.


The Hamilton College Saxophone Ensemble dazzled guests with a range of selections from past and present. The ensemble’s director, Monk Rowe, taught music at VVS High School before going on the road as a professional jazz musician. On an historic note, after receiving a copy of the program from an 1866 Sunday school Benefit held at this church, Monk found the sheet music for a tune performed that long-ago evening called – Flying Cloud Schottische. Monk orchestrated it for the Hamilton ensemble, who quickly learned it and wonderfully brought it back to life for us!

Stephen Wisser – soprano sax • Jonathan Sills – alto sax • Jin Lee – alto sax
Anna Gagliardi – tenor sax • Tyler Boudreau – baritone sax

Sean Lessard, a professional actor and singer, originally from Chittenango, and currently performing in Rock of Ages in Hollywood, beautifully sang Autumn in New York, accompanied on piano by David Sills of Hamilton College. The song was made famous by Frank Sinatra, Billie Holiday, Bing Crosby and others. But as some in the crowd noticed, in this performance, there was a reference to Maple Park (as opposed to Central Park).

We really enjoyed Saturday; it had the feel of the traditional gatherings that have been largely lost in this digital age.

Dustin Zajac, Vernon, NY

With Gratitude to:

The Volunteer Staff!

  • Don and Terry Law
  • Fran Jones
  • Sue Law
  • Emily Adams
  • Donna Rutz
  • Cindy Swistak
  • Diane Lummis
  • Chef Ron DeSantis
  • Chef Larry Watkins
  • Brenna Towne
  • Taylor Towne
  • Jodi Towne
  • Kyle Puleo
  • Cody Law
  • Tyson Law
  • Vinnie Bailey
  • Kaleigh Pfohl
  • Ethan Law

Raffle Prize Donors

  • Parkside Deli
  • Savoy Restaurant
  • Orvis Store, Rochester
  • Swistak Farm
  • Peter H. Reynolds / Blue Bunny Book Store
  • Peter L. White

Special Thanks

  • Megan Walker
  • Don Henry / Sullivan Stained Glass Studios
  • Urtz Service Company
  • Bartlett Tree Experts
  • Clinton Hardwood Floors
  • Ken Fort / Chobani
  • Delta Engineers, Architects, & Land Surveyors
  • Katie & Aaron Falkenmeyer
  • Augusta Presbyterian Church
  • Ryan and Christa Gerling
  • Amanda Larson
  • Janice Buneo
  • Bob and LuAnn Jones
  • Vernon Historical Society
  • Ralston Supply
  • Crane Company
  • Parkside United Methodist Church, Vernon Center
  • Vernon United Methodist Church
  • Cindy Faulkner
  • Larry and Wendy Watkins
  • Jim and Karen Brown
  • Maple Hedge Farm
  • Monk Rowe
  • Ubaldo Valli/Hamilton College
  • Matt Lenhart
  • Vernon Center VFD
  • Sherrill Kenwood VFD
  • Alli Streeter
  • Harlow Bliss Photography
  • Nicole Comfort
  • Evans Roofing Company

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1 thought on “Harvest Dinner 2019”

  1. Nice restoration job! My Hungerford ancestors/cousins settled in Vernon Center in 1798. One, John Newton Hungerford born in Vernon Center and baptized in the church when it was on the green. He later moved to
    Bath, Steuben County, N.Y. and was elected to Congress. He is buried at Glenwood Cemetery in Watkins Glen.

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