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Boro nonprofit serves up gala, honors

The Queens Centers for Progress held its 11th annual Evening of Fine Food Feb. 6 at the Terrace on the Park in Flushing Meadow Corona Park. The event featured buffet tables from 22 area restaurants, including D'Aquila Pastry Shop in Flushing, Papazzio in Bayside and O Lavrador Restaurant in Jamaica, which all served their tastiest treats."You can sample all of the restaurants at one time easily. Queens has some of the great places to eat in the city," said James F. Kilkenny, the former Bronx borough commissioner for the Transportation Department who has attended the event since its inception.From veal meatballs and empanadas to smoked salmon and creamed pastries, the invited dignitaries filled their stomachs with a huge menu. The food wasn't the only thing getting the party's attention as QCP presented its Chef of the Year award to longtime Queens philanthropist Mary Ann Mattone.Mattone, who personally cooked her famed baked ziti recipe for the event, humbly accepted her trophy, an engraved stainless steel cooking pan. "I cooked with my grandmother when I was a little girl and I've been doing it ever since. I had my own macaroni machine when I was 8," she said.QCP also honored its executive vice president, Jack Friedman, with the Humanitarian Award. Friedman, the former chief of staff to Councilman David Weprin (D-Hollis), thanked the organization for welcoming him into their staff."It's quite an honor to be here tonight and receive the humanitarian award," he said. "Queens Center for Progress has helped thousands of adults with various quality of life issues."Queens Centers for Progress, formerly United Cerebral Palsy of Queens, was founded more than 50 years ago to offer support and services to borough children who lived with the disorder. As the organization grew throughout the years, it expanded its reach, providing help to disabled adults and children across the borough."It's a great staff of people who work hard for a remarkable cause," said Mattone, who volunteers with the organization.The organization received a special boost during the party as it raised nearly $300,000 through a special silent auction and raffle contest. The auction sold various prizes including jewelry, restaurant gift certificates and fruit baskets. For more information visit www.queenscp.org/Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.

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