By Great Performances

Each year, we’re honored to plan and cater The Sylvia Center’s summer benefit at Katchkie Farm. Over the years, the event has evolved, most recently becoming a farm-to-picnic-table (or blanket!) celebration in the Learning Garden at the farm. This year, 250 people attended and were able to enjoy the beauty of our farm from the fields full of summer vegetables and sunflowers to the Learning Garden framed by the rolling Catskills on one side and woods on the other.

With a menu curated by Chef Georgette Farkas and featuring ingredients sourced directly from the fields, it was a delicious event that highlighted the best of summer flavors. Read on to learn more about the experience. To donate to The Sylvia Center and learn more about future events, visit their website by clicking here.

It was a beautifully warm, sunny day in July, and one could feel the anticipation and excitement as guests walked along the path (or rode in one of the golf carts!) flanked by fields of sunflowers. As guests registered for the event and bought raffle tickets, happy chatter turned to exclamations and warm hugs as familiar faces were spotted and friends reunited. The Sylvia Center Executive Director Jonathan Cetnarski was on hand along with CEO and Founder of Great Performances, Liz Neumark, to meet guests and towards the registration table Guests were greeted at the registration table by The Sylvia Center team, including Executive Director Jonathan Cetnarski, and by Liz Neumark, CEO and Founder of Great Performances. After registering and joining the raffle, they proceeded to the food tent where they picked up their picnic bags and headed to the Learning Garden where there was plenty of space to spread out and enjoy their feast. Drinks were served under the shade of the Pavilion, which also hosts the pizza oven we used last year. This year, Rafi Bildner brought his Hilltown Hot Pies pizza truck and served his pizzas – always a fan favorite!


Delicious food highlighting the best that summer in New York has to offer was packed in cooler bags that guests picked up on their way to their tables. The menu included fresh, flavorful foods like NY Collection of Cheese & Charcuterie, Dried Apricots, Assorted Flatbreads; Gazpacho; Parker House Rolls (cultured local butter); Sweet Pepper Roast Chicken (cippolini onions, smoked paprika aioli); Corn and Cherry Tomato Succotash (edamame, swiss chard, feta cheese, roasted sunflower seeds, lemon-basil miso vinaigrette); Roasted Sweet Yellow Peppers (cherry tomatoes, black olives, capers, anchovy, yellow raisins, basil); Watermelon & Radish Salad – featuring both watermelon and watermelon radishes – (kale, cucumber, black beans, ginger lime vinaigrette); Lemon Grilled Baby Zucchini (whole wheat apricot couscous); our fan favorite Eggplant Chermoula; and Peach – Blackberry Crumble Bars.

As a special thank you to our guests, Farmer Jon picked cherry tomatoes fresh from the fields and we paired them with a savory basil parmesan pesto.

Rafi Bildner debuted his Hilltown Hot Pies pizza truck and served made-to-order Neapolitan style pizza with his own artisanal, wild-yeasted dough featuring produce picked from the farm and local cheeses and meats.


One of the things we look forward to the most each year is our Farm to Table Event with The Sylvia Center, a nonprofit dedicated to educating youth and their families on the connection between food and health. We support The Sylvia Center and host them at Katchkie Farm, helping their students learn about where food comes from and how to prepare various ingredients to create delicious, health supportive meals. From planting vegetables, to tending crops, and ultimately harvesting and cooking them, they get hands on experience with the full lifecycle of produce.

Each summer, we host The Sylvia Center’s Farm to Table Event at Katchkie Farm, our organic farm in upstate New York, to help them raise funds for their programs that run in under-resourced communities throughout Columbia County and New York City. Their programs are helping to develop the next generation of healthy eaters, cooks and advocates that can fundamentally change the future of food.

Georgette Farkas, our culinary ambassador, has created the menu for this year’s event. We promise an informal evening of dining al fresco in the fields on a farm inspired menu.

Event details: Saturday July 24, from 5 to 8pm, at Katchkie Farm in Kinderhook, NY

Purchase tickets here:

If you can’t make it but would like to help support The Sylvia Center, you can donate at the link here:!/donation/checkout

Check out some images from last year’s event!


Great Performances has partnered with The Sylvia Center for a family cooking series! We’re excited to take a trip with The Sylvia Center’s Noodle Passport.  Our classes will take families on a culinary journey around the globe, exploring types of noodles from different countries.

Starting Thursday, February 18, the class will run from 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm for six consecutive weeks, with the final class on Thursday, March 25.

During each class, our Chef Instructor will provide an overview of the class, define key terms and demonstrate cooking techniques.

About The Classes

Cost: $20 per seat (the class fee is per Zoom seat – you can have as many people in your kitchen as you like)

Class Length: 60 minutes

What you’ll need: Before each class, you’ll need to download our prep packet. Each packet contains a shopping list, recipe, passport page, pre-work, and any additional information you’ll need.

Each class is fully interactive! Be prepared to turn on your camera if you’d like and feel free to ask questions as you work alongside our Chef Instructor.

We’ll send the password protected Zoom link 30-minutes before the class. Please login to the Zoom up to 10 minutes before the start time—late attendees may not be admitted.

About The Sylvia Center

The mission of The Sylvia Center is to inspire young people to become healthy eaters and advocates for healthy food in their families and communities.

As a part of The Sylvia Center’s high-impact programming, students learn essential skills in the kitchen so they can cook low-cost, healthy meals at home, as well as gain confidence through cooking and doing something that’s good for them and their families. 

Your donation today will help The Sylvia Center provide more fun, family-friendly opportunities for our communities to take control of their health, one plate at a time.


Week 1: America

American Style Pasta Salad (Vegetarian)

Thursday, February 18 | 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm | $20

We’re kicking off the session with an introduction to the course. Our Chef Instructor will review key vocabulary and cooking techniques that will be used throughout the series. You’ll practice these techniques as you prepare a delicious American style pasta salad. This dish is vegetarian friendly and can be made vegan.

Week 2: Italy

Homemade Gnocchi With Rustic Ratatouille (Vegetarian)

Thursday, February 25 | 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm | $20

This week we’ll cover essential knife skills and sanitation before we travel to Italy with our Homemade Gnocchi with Rustic Ratatouille. You’ll practice your knife skills as you chop your vegetables for the ratatouille which you’ll serve with freshly made gnocchi. This dish is vegetarian friendly and can be made vegan.

Week 3: Japan

Soba Noodle Salad (Vegetarian, Contains Soy)

Thursday, March 4 | 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm | $20

During this class we’ll explore flavors as we travel to Japan and prepare a Soba Noodle Salad. We’ll reinforce our knife skills learned in Week 2 as we chop our vegetables and combine them with soba noodles and an umami-rich dressing. This dish is vegetarian and can be made vegan.

Week 4: Peru

Peruvian Tallarines Verdes (Vegetarian, Contains Dairy)

Thursday, March 11 | 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm | $20

Learn the difference between whole and processed foods — and why it’s important. Then we’ll travel to Peru as we prepare Tallarines Verdes, or Green Noodles. This dish is vegetarian.

Week 5: Morocco

Moroccan Chickpea And Vegetable Stew With Couscous (Vegan)

Thursday, March 18 | 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm | $20

What makes a healthy plate? We’ll talk about nutrition and how to build a balanced plate. We’ll continue to build on the previous weeks’ lessons as we travel to Morocco and prepare a chickpea and vegetable stew with couscous. We’ll also learn about different spices and how they can add flavor to your food. This dish is vegan.

Week 6: Russia

Mushroom Stroganoff (Vegetarian, Contains Dairy)

Thursday, March 25 | 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm | $20

In our final week, we’ll explore the seasons and the benefits of eating foods that are in season. Then it’s off to Russia for a warming, delicious Mushroom Stroganoff. In our final week of skill building, we’ll add new techniques including making a roux to thicken our sauce. This dish is vegetarian.


Complete the form below to register for as many classes as you wish! You can always come back to this page to register for additional classes.

Classes sizes are limited so make sure to reserve your spot today.

2020 will be a year that none of us will ever be able to forget, yet we cannot forget the health and nutrition disparities of our next generation who live in under-resourced communities throughout New York City and in Columbia County. The Sylvia Center provides young people with hands-on knowledge, skills-building and inspiration to chart a more healthy future for themselves and their families. This work has grown even more important and impactful during this year of unprecedented circumstances. Not only did The Sylvia Center transition to digital programming to connect with their students safely during the pandemic and beyond, but they also started a fresh meal fund. Looking ahead to 2021, there is an acute and growing need for their programming. To do this they need your help and resources to accelerate their programming.


The Sylvia Center is excited to host our Art of Cooking Virtual Fundraiser in just two short weeks, and we are thrilled to have two incredible special guests join us for the evening!

This hour-long event full of fun and engaging moments as we celebrate our mission and commitment to our communities.


Chef Wu

The Sylvia Center is thrilled to have Chef Wu 2019 Masterchef contestant –  close out the show with a delicious cooking demonstration perfect for Fall!

As a New York City public school teacher of 10 years, Chef Wu not only teaches middle schoolers math and literacy but also partners with The Sylvia Center cooking program teaching young chefs how to make plant based meals. 

Chef Wu

Joining us as emcee for the evening is Jamie McDonald, TV host for Conde Nast Traveller, Travel & Leisure and, most recently, the Wall Street Journal. 

Jamie has helped raise money for charities such as UNICEF, and more local institutions like the Joyce Theatre, New York. He has a passion for New York eateries, and is excited to help The Sylvia Center fund its cooking-based nutrition education program. 

Every ticket sponsors students and families to participate in our virtual cooking classes and receive fresh food boxes, building healthier communities one plate at a time.

Plus, your purchase of a VIP Level ticket (or above!) gives you exclusive access to two of our virtual holiday cooking classes! 

Your support enables The Sylvia Center to continue its work delivering high impact programming while helping kids develop a toolkit of skills necessary to be successful in the classroom and in the kitchen.

This year, because our fundraiser will be virtual, your generous support will be 100% tax deductible and a portion of the proceeds will be used to fund fresh food meal kits for The Sylvia Center kids and their families.



By Sylvia Center Executive Director, Jennifer John

On Thursday, November 1st, The Sylvia Center Celebrated Both The Foundation And The Future Of The Organization With Their Art Of Cooking Benefit At Hudson Mercantile.

Over 270 guests enjoyed delicious food, great company, laughter, and were moved by stories from two recent graduates of the Teen Culinary Apprenticeship program. 

The night started off with cocktails and perfect bite size hors d’oeuvres inspired by our guest chef and student collaborations from all over the city. Patti Jackson (Delaware and Hudson), Sohui Kim (Insa and The Good Fork), and Antonio Mora (Quality Meats) shared their knowledge and skills with students during class in the previous weeks, and then prepared and served these appetizers together during the event. Guests were thrilled to talk with the students about what they have learned with The Sylvia Center. 

The night continued with a delicious dinner curated by Chef Anita Lo. Executive Director, Jennifer John, honored the seven founding board members for their vision and years of service to the young people of New York. Dr. Dodi Meyer accepted the honor on behalf of the group, which included Richard Aaron, Joel Cooperman, Rabbi Anne Ebersman, Trudy Elbaum Gottesman, Chaim Wachsberger, and Great Performance’s own, Dean Martinus. Dr. Meyer’s speech highlighted the deep need for programs that address food insecurity and diet-related diseases during the important early years of life.

Liz Neumark, Chair of the Board of Directors, presented The Sylvia Center Future Community Leader Award to Nerelly Jimenez and Rishon Philips. These Teen Chefs were recognized for their potential to serve their own community by sharing the principals of healthy eating with their peers, family, and neighbors. The program concluded with a lively auction conducted by Christie’s veteran, John Hays. The marquee item of the evening was a private dinner prepared by Chefs Anita Lo and Sohui Kim. 

The Sylvia Center raised over $570,000 through the generous donations of many amazing supporters and sponsors. The Sylvia Center thanks Great Performances for their outstanding service and support, and Hudson Mercantile and Bentley Meeker for the beautiful event space. Most of all, The Sylvia Center thanks our community chefs and students for being role models in their communities and continuing to inspire us and others to grow together.

Photo Credit: Amanda Gentile


By Jennifer John, Executive Director of The Sylvia Center


Young people, ages 7 to 16, spend all day outside in our learning garden and field house. Campers cook farm-fresh meals and snacks; weed, plant and harvest in the learning garden; collect eggs from our coop; and make garden-inspired arts and crafts. Most importantly, they work together to learn where fresh, nutritious food comes from, and how it is the foundation of lifelong healthy habits.

On the last day, our campers worked together in teams to produce the winning dish for the lunchtime Family Feast. Each team was given the same ingredients and 30 minutes to make their dish. Campers talked over their ideas, then chopped, sauteed and plated their improvised recipes. They had spent all week learning about garden-fresh produce and building their own cooking skills; and they were ready to show off.

It was a hard decision, but the judges chose the winning recipe — quinoa, feta, ground cherry with lots of turmeric and decorated with edible flowers. The team quickly got back to the prep area to produce the dish for lunch, while the other campers harvested vegetables and decorated the field house with all of their projects from the week. Family and friends were thrilled with the delicious meal, and shared how much their children had enjoyed their time with us on the farm.

When we asked our campers what activity they liked best from the week, it was hard to choose. The visit from Paul MacPhail of Bee Hollow Farm & Apiary was a favorite because they got to learn about bees while tasting varieties of honey. Making fresh fettuccine and pesto with basil from the garden was another favorite because they got to use the hand cranked pasta machine. Others said that making their own pizzas in the wood-fired outdoor oven was at the top. But everyone agreed that they loved making friends and spending all day doing hands-on activities with our staff.

The Young Chefs Farm Camp is a part of our fun, inclusive and interactive summertime learning programming in Columbia County and New York City. The Sylvia Center provides a number of scholarships so that our campers can have an experience that reflects the diversity of Columbia County. Your support of The Sylvia Center ensure we can bring nutrition education, youth development and summer fun to all of the communities we serve. Please share your support of healthy futures today.