JESPY Battle of the Chefs Event at Orange Lawn a Big Success

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From JESPY House in South Orange, NJ:

On Thursday, June 23, Orange Lawn Tennis Club in South Orange was abuzz with JESPY House supporters, clients, board members, and foodies. All were there to attend Battle of the Chefs: A Benefit for JESPY House

The event raised funds to support JESPY’s programs and mission of helping its clients, adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities who are age 18 and older, to live full and independent lives. 

The competing chefs who turned the Orange Lawn venue into a culinary playground were Chef Ivan of Orange Lawn Tennis Club and Chef Tony of Edgewood Country Club. 

Prior to the start of the event, the chefs shared their reasons for participating in the competition. “I have someone who is close to me who has a disability,” shared Chef Ivan. “So I know the importance of showing that you care and doing whatever you can to help others.”

“I believe in giving back,” added Chef Tony. “It’s a no-brainer for me to do my part. This event is a pleasure for both of us to participate in.” 

The premier chefs each created a cocktail-hour appetizer spread and delicious dinner entrees for which they were judged. Guest judges included Samantha Pinto, Executive Chef and Owner of The Order, David Massoni, Owner of The Fox & Falcon, and John Zerega, Manager of Miti Miti – all located in South Orange. 

Chef Ivan was the winning chef, taking home a gift certificate to Kitchen a la Mode, a kitchen supply and home goods establishment in South Orange.  

In addition to offering up great eats, Battle of the Chefs honored three JESPY families – The Cottingham Family; The Oppenheimer Family; and The Plotnick Family. The client members of each family – Passion C., Dawn O., and Andrew P. – have all found their independence at JESPY through employment, advocacy, friendships with others, and active participation in JESPY programs. During their acceptance speeches, the clients shared their experiences with developing self-awareness and building confidence while at JESPY. Each family received a beautifully-engraved glass plate award. 

The successful benefit, which raised over $300,000, also included a one-of-a-kind Silent Auction that featured exclusive concert tickets, experience packages, restaurant certificates, floral arrangements, personalized artwork, jewelry, and more. 

“I am truly excited about the success of this event,” said JESPY Executive Director Audrey Winkler. “We are so grateful for the support of our JESPY clients which also enables us to continue to provide programs and services. I’m proud, as well, of our client honorees and their personal development while at JESPY. I know that they and all of our clients will continue to do great things while working toward their independence.”

JESPY provides support in the areas of clinical & behavioral health, residential options, athletics & fitness, recreation, daily living skills, and employment. Visit to learn more about JESPY House programs. 



Photos by Joy Yagid Photography.

Chef Ivan (left) and Chef Tony (right) have a longstanding work relationship, with Tony having mentored Ivan for many years.


JESPY client honorees Dawn O., Passion C., and Andrew P.


JESPY Day Program Manager Shaleice Jenkins (left) stands with the Cottingham family and JESPY Executive Director Audrey Winkler.


JESPY Clinical/Behavioral Supports Supervisor Sherry Scucci-Hamilton (left) poses with the Plotnick family and JESPY Executive Director Audrey Winkler.

JESPY Direct Support Professional Rabia El-Hamyani (left) is shown here with the Oppenheimer family and JESPY Executive Director Audrey Winkler.

Chef Ivan of Orange Lawn Tennis Club was the winning chef.


John Zerega, Manager of Miti Miti, Samantha Pinto, Executive Chef and Owner of The Order, and David Massoni, Owner of The Fox & Falcon, were the guest judges.

Chef Tony of Edgewood Country Club of Edgewood Country Club created delicious dishes as well. 

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