By TARA LYNN JOHNSON
For 21st Century Media
A local foundation has no reservations about making “A Date with a Plate” for a good cause.
The biennial event features one-of-a-kind table designs created and interpreted by local interior designers, florists, event planners, caterers, and retailers. This year’s participants include Arrangements Unlimited, Evantine Design, Joseph A. Berkowitz Interiors, Inc., Lori Shinal Interiors, Inc., Neiman Marcus, Palladio, Penncora Events, Robertson’s Flowers, TableArt, The Hill Company, and West Elm. The event benefits the Center for Personalized Diagnostics at Penn Medicine’s Abramson Cancer Center.
The fundraiser, held on May 6 and 7, features a Patrons’ Party gala Tuesday evening and The Second Helping luncheon (featuring light bites) on Wednesday.
The event is the brainchild of the IMAJNZ Foundation, which was founded by Judi Goodman and Sharyn Berman in 2009 as a means for philanthropic, creative women in the Delaware Valley to support local non-profit organizations. (The name combines the letters of the names of their nine children – Berman has six, Goodman has three).
Berman, of Lower Gwynedd, said the event has been fun to create. It’s an extension of her love of setting her table for family dinners and events.
“Depending on the occasion, I set a fun, warm, inviting table. I love having parties where I can take out all of my china.” she said. “I’m an avid collector and I love to try to set different tables.”
Both women enjoy the set up day a lot.
“That’s the day when all the creative juices are flooding the venue and the creativity, the freedom of interpretation, becomes evident,” Goodman said.
Each table is like a work of art.
“Each presenter sets a table that inspires people,” Goodman said. “You look at them and think you can do that at home.”
And it’s not only about setting tables for humans. The doggies are included, too, with the presentation of a special table created by Cool Dog Gear, which Paula Jaffe and Sue Hepner opened in the Montgomery Mall in October 2012. Jaffe is thrilled to be involved and enjoyed putting the canine table setting together. She was inspired by her customers asking for puppy birthday presents so she’s presenting a birthday paw-ty.
The table features a table liner made from swatches of materials used to make dog beds, granola cupcakes, party favors, and healthy dog treats.
“We wanted to include things that dogs would have fun eating and enjoying and people would get a laugh looking at,” she said. “We’re going to have a lot of fun with it and bring a little whimsy and adorable puppy stuff.”
The event appeals to people of all ages and backgrounds, Berman said.
“For young married people to the up-and-coming bride, for the stay at home or working person, if you love to entertain or to be entertained, it’s exciting to see what’s out there,” Berman said.
Goodman, of Ambler, has been an interior designer for more than 25 years. She sees the world, she said, through “some relation to function and space, proportion, color, and enjoyment. My eye naturally goes to aesthetics of something.”
And she, too, loves to entertain.
“We are a household of entertainers. We open our house for charity events, for business events and we are the go-to house for all the family events,” she said.
Both women like that they can use their love of entertaining and setting pretty tables to “raise money for causes that are impactful to the community,” Goodman said. They have been doing medical-based fundraising, she said, but that could change.
“That’s the beauty of the foundation – we haven’t limited ourselves in what we can do or who we will support,” she said. “We like that what we’ve done so far has been beneficial to many people at the same time.”
IF YOU GO
“A Date with a Plate”
Gala, 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 6. Tickets: $175, $100 for “Young Friends” (age 35 and younger).
The Second Helping, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday, May 7. Tickets: $50 in advance; $55 at the door.
Moulin at Sherman Mills, 3502 Scots Lane, East Falls, Philadelphia, PA 19129.
Tickets available at the door.