The annual Saint Martin’s Gala is going all out this year, with Salumi patriarch Armandino Batali bringing in the big guns for his fifth year co-chairing the event. The graduate of Saint Martin’s University in Lacey, Washington has invited the entire cast of The Chew to come out and represent in the kitchen in hopes of raising over a million dollars for his alma mater (class of 1959).
Mario Batali’s pops started promoting the annual event in 2011, when he asked the chef to come out as the celebrity chef for the event. The next year, Guy Fieri was the guest of honor, followed by Michael Symon in 2013, and Lidia Bastianich in 2014. With Armo’s involvement, they’ve raised around $2.5 million. This year, he tells Eater he hopes to bring that round number up to $4 million for the five years he’s been on the Board.
"One of the precepts of Saint Martin’s is hospitality, which is deeply connected to food. The whole university is so excited for the gala. It’s become kind of the premier affair in the South Sound area, and we’ve gotten even more interest from Seattle and even Portland sponsors," Batali tells Eater. Of the 1,440 students on the main campus, approximately 900 receive scholarships.
When Batali and wife Marilyn visit New York in June, they’ll consult on the menu for the gala. "This is really a different venue for [the chefs]. The food will be Mario’s and Michael’s, all of the Chew folks, food from their books," he says of the grand meal to be served. The school's Marcus Pavilion, where the Saint Martin’s gala takes place, can seat up to 700 people.
The event includes a pre-gala reception for larger donors with the five Chew stars, the cooperatively prepared meal, and a big auction. Tickets start at $500 a pop, with all proceeds going to the Saint Martin’s scholarship fund. The event takes place November 7.