Food & Drink

Here's how to have a unique dining experience while raising money for a local nonprofit

Sisters Mary and Amy Seaton have been hosting Twilight Dinners at their home for the past 12 years.
Sisters Mary and Amy Seaton have been hosting Twilight Dinners at their home for the past 12 years. Photo provided

Each year, members of the community come together to host extravagant dinners, filled with interesting conversation, decadent dining and fun times all around — and it’s all for a good cause. The annual Twilight Dinner series offers an array of gourmet experiences and proceeds from the highly in-demand tickets go to the Centre County Women's Resource Center.

Mary Seaton and her sister, Amy, have been hosting a Twilight Dinner at their home in Rebersburg for the past 12 years.

“There are very few resources for women in Centre County. The women’s resource center is one of the only places where people can find help that need it in Centre County," Mary Seaton said. "I think it’s a critical service to our community and I wanted to be able to support it."

This year, their theme is “Bacchus Meets Aphrodite,” for a menu filled with aphrodisiacs paired with wine. It just so happens the date of their dinner, June 3, is the 81st anniversary of the wedding of Wallis Simpson and the Duke of Windsor. The planned, six-course, French dinner is partially inspired by the pair’s intimate wedding at Château de Candé.

Both Mary Seaton and Amy Seaton have long careers in the dining and hospitality industries, working at familiar local names such as the Governor’s Table, Spats and the Gamble Mill. Their carefully curated menu includes items such artichokes, oysters and a strawberry salad.

“We’re doing Julia Child’s Rack of Lamb for a Special Occasion, which is really delicious,” Mary Seaton. “I love that. It’s a little bit fussier to prepare, but it’s really nice. I’m a big fan of soufflés, so we’re doing the frozen Chambord soufflé from The Governor’s Table, and we’re doing mushroom and artichoke soufflé to start.”

While hosting may be old hat for the Seaton sisters, other hosts in this year’s lineup are new to the role, such as State College residents Richard Killian and Joy Vincent-Killian. The two are taking to the task with enthusiasm, however.

“We have enjoyed hosting many fundraising dinners for charities serving our local community and all CCWRC had to do was ask," Joy Vincent-Killian said. "We both work full time and are unable to volunteer regularly throughout the year, but a single event is just right. We think that CCWRC does such important work in our area, it is an opportunity for us to support and recognize them.”

The couple have planned “a multi-course international dinner with each course paired with a wine from the region of the cuisine.”

While Joy Vincent-Killian, with her multiple successful years at Penn State Hospitality Services, is a well-accomplished host, her husband is the chef in the equation.

“I love to cook and entertain,” he said. “During the summer we preserve vegetables from our garden and from farmers in the area. I use my own salsa, jams and sauces in most of my dishes." His travels have also influenced his culinary skills, as he’s learned the techniques necessary to pull off a well-executed international menu.

Meanwhile, Joy Vincent-Killian uses her hospitality know-how to ensure a fantastic experience is had by all.

“A hosted dinner at our house has a Banquet Event Order just like at our hotels, with details like prep-time, wine selection, meal, special meals (we’ll make dietary accommodations for folks with allergies or vegetarians) and service times,” she said. "Our friends know when they come to our home for a sponsored dinner they’ll meet new and old friends, eat delicious food and leave feeling a greater sense of the value of our community.”

Other dinners in the series combine entertainment with dining, such as the event held at The State Theatre.

“In 2016, The State Theatre partnered with the women's resource center for the Mary Chapin Carpenter show. Twilight Dinner patrons were able to enjoy dinner by Catering with Style by Dan Rallis. Afterwards, they could go into the Friedman Auditorium and enjoy the show. A portion of each ticket went to support the Centre County Women's Resource Center,” said Karen Gregg, executive director of The State Theatre.

Last year, the theater held a similar event with a different act. This year, the show features Bettye Lavette, a Grammy-Nominated soul singer-songwriter, and catering is provided by Champs Sports Grill.

Tickets for each of the dinners are highly prized, so reserve your spot at one of the upcoming events as soon as possible.

Upcoming Twilight Dinners

Sunday, 6:30 p.m.

An Evening with Bettye Lavette at The State Theatre, hosted by Tom and Esther Cali, Maddi and Bob Radzwich, Michelle and Ford McNutt, Tracy and CJ Wagner, McKenzie Millward and Jake Holderman and Mike and Lynda Sullivan.

May 26, 11 a.m.

Women's Brunch in the Garden, hosted by Casey Hovick and Laura Reidy

June 2

Argentine Asado Dinner Party, hosted by Michael and Carmella Degenhart (Sold Out)

June 3, 6-10 p.m.

Aphrodite Meets Bacchus: A Celebration of Love, hosted by Amy and Mary Seaton

June 7, 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Be Your Own Chef at a Cooking with Wine Workshop, hosted by Susan Ferinde McWhirter and Taste Buds Kitchen

June 16, 6-9:30 p.m.

An International Food and Wine Feast, hosted by Joy Vincent-Killian and Richard Killian

June 16, 7 p.m.

Tastes of Pittsburgh, hosted by Anne Ard and Tom Poole and Michael and Jackie Edmondson

To make your reservation, visit ccwrc.org/twilight-dinners-2018-reservations.

Holly Riddle is a freelance food, travel and lifestyle writer. She can be reached at holly.ridd@gmail.com.
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