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Dishing with Dee: Flushing arts group honors ex-councilman John Liu

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The Flushing Council on Culture and the Arts outdid itself again with its annual gala last Thursday in our architectural gem, Flushing Town Hall.

This year’s honorees were city Comptroller John Liu, jazz producer Clyde Bullard, Jim Henson Foundation President Cheryl Henson and the Mayor’s assistant director of contract services, Michelle Miao. Each of the honorees was instrumental in making Flushing Town Hall the cultural resource it is today.

Prior to becoming comptroller, Liu was the councilman representing District 20 in which Flushing Town Hall is located. During his tenure as councilman, he was a constant supporter of the Arts Council.

Bullard has been the producer of the Flushing Town Hall Jazz Live Series since 1998. He plays with the Boys Choir of Harlem and has performed with Tony Bennett and others.

The Jim Henson Foundation was founded in 1982 by Muppets creator Jim Henson. Cheryl oversees a competitive granting process to encourage the best in puppet theater.

Miao was appointed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg as his designated representative on both the board of directors of the Flushing Council on Culture and the Arts as well as the Queens Botanical Garden. She is a devoted community activist.

From 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., there was a cocktail party and hors d’oeuvres reception in the large gallery on the main floor followed afterward with everyone moving upstairs to the Town Hall Theater for a buffet dinner. The food was reflective of the diversity of Queens. During the dinner hour and afterward, there were informative remarks, the presentation of awards to honorees and a program representative of the diverse talent in Queens — a star-studded evening. Queens has really grown into a sophisticated borough.

Friday was a change of pace, a fun evening that was quite a casual one. It was billed as a young professionals “happy hour.” It was held at the Astoria Bohemian Hall Beer Garden. The sponsors were state Sen. Martin Golden and congressional candidate Dino La Verghetta. If you have never been there, try it on any warm evening or sunny weekend afternoon.

It’s a unique, informal place to hold a gathering, party or fund-raiser. They have all sorts of interesting foods as well as a huge assortment of European beers, which you can order by the mug or pitcher or if you are not the adventurous type, you can order a beer you may be more familiar with. Check it out. This is a perfect time as the outdoor season is great in spring, summer and fall.

On Saturday afternoon, the Msgr. Francis J. Dillon Chapter of the Knights of Columbus held a barbecue picnic in the backyard of St. Luke’s R.C. Church in Whitestone. It was a beautiful sunny day with lots of food, games, races, face painting, inflatables, raffles and a DJ. A good time was had by all. It was a typical day of fun in the sun.

Later Saturday afternoon, we ran into Bob Schwartz and friends in a diner in Whitestone where they were having lunch. Schwartz said he is considering challenging Toby Stavisky for her state Senate seat.

They invited us to join them, which we did. Schwartz was expressing his concern about the potentially unsafe transportation of perishable foods such as fish, meat, poultry and dairy products. He was first made aware of this problem in September 2009 by a Channel 7 investigative report. It explained how time and temperature play a huge role in food poisoning. That’s why refrigerated trucks or coolers are critical to getting food to restaurants safely.

The report at that time documented that perishable foods were tossed into the back of trucks, open pick-up trucks and unrefrigerated vans. The vehicles were followed to New Jersey, Connecticut and the New York metro area. Infrared thermometers were used and registered interior temperatures inside some of the closed vans at 96 degrees.

Milk, sour cream, fresh chicken, meat, raw seafood and eggs are some of the things affected by time and heat. If these foods are out of temperature control, there is a chance for spoilage and even worse: the development of harmful bacteria. It is an area virtually no one is monitoring. With winter over and summer on the way, this issue becomes alive and well again.

That’s it for this week.

I look forward to hearing from you with information on people, parties and politics or gossip.

I like receiving your voice mails at 718-767-6484, faxes at 718-746-0066 and e-mails at deerrichard@aol.com.

Don’t forget to check out the Focus on Queens page.

Till next week, Dee.

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