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Annual dinner auction could raise thousands for Family Christian Development Center

A $65 seat for a meal has never been more popular. The third annual Come to the Table dinner auction is less than a week away, and its 336 tickets have already sold out.

The wait list holds a dozen more hopeful guests, with more calling every day — not a bad problem to have for Family Christian Development Center in Nappanee.

The meal and auction are predicted to raise $92,000 for the center, said director Mark Mikel. All funds will help support its various community programs, such as a clothing closet, food pantry and baby health care.

This year’s Come to the Table dinner will be at 6 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 9, at The Pond, 3791 County Line Road in Nappanee.

For the evening, 12 pairs of local chefs and farmers will collaborate to create an extravagant 12-course meal. Guests will sample dishes like wasabi beef sliders, bacon-wrapped chicken thighs, a fresh salad from Heritage House and a welcome dessert drink made with ice cream from The Chief.

“We came up with the idea of pairing local farmers and chefs together, saying ‘Here are the ingredients, go make something wonderful,’” Mikel said.

While each course is served, the chef and farmer who created the dish will share their process using locally sourced products, in the tradition of the growing farm-to-fork movement.

There is involvement from area food producers like Clay Bottom Farm, Culver Duck and Fish Lake Organic Berry Patches; retailers like Grass is Greener Meat & Produce, John’s Butcher Shop and South Bend Farmers Market, and restaurants like Constant Spring, Dickies at Swan Lake, Main Street Roasters and Veni’s Sweet Shop.

A silent auction will begin at 6 p.m., with a live one during dinner. Among the largest items is a $2,000 grilling package; E. Newcomer & Son in Nappanee also donated a silver bracelet designed for the event.

“Dinner won’t be served until 7:15, so there’s plenty of time to bid,” Mikel said.

During the live auction, items will raise an estimated $20,000 for FCDC’s Fund a Need, which will go to the center’s food pantry, summer food program and a new van.

Many of the event’s traditions are continuing — 11 of this year’s 12 chefs also participated last year — but there are a few changes as well. In addition to a new location (Coppes Commons was the venue in previous years), appetizers will be set up at stations throughout the auction area, instead of at sit-down tables.

Come to the Table was started in 2012 by former director Karen Sherer Stoltzfus, and raised nearly $150,000 for FCDC in its last two years under the direction of event coordinator Barb A’Hearn.

“This creates good energy among the community,” Mikel said. “We’re bringing farmers and chefs and people together to do good for the greater community. That’s why it’s been so successful. As long we as continue to do well, this event will carry on.”

For more information, visit FCDC’s Facebook page.

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