Dinner with a Cause

April 27, 2017
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Students in Cambodian school (Photo: Erica Guzman)

Erica Guzman, young proprietor of Aragon 101 in Coral Gables, is an intrepid traveler. She scours markets in Morocco and Southeast Asia and beyond for discoveries that make their way to her home decor boutique, adding color and rustic textures to the sleek white interior. Here too she organizes eclectic  cooking classes, bringing together friends and strangers for simple supper menus, Lebanese dinners, sous-vide cooking and stylish brunch dishes.

Last summer, her travels took her to Cambodia. Guzman found herself in a remote village outside Siem Riep. “My plan was essentially to have no plan — to visit new places and try new foods with a very flexible agenda,” she says. “Before I left Miami, a friend put me in touch with a Buddhist monk.” He told her about a school he founded with another monk to provide the children in neighboring farming and rice villages with an opportunity for a better life through education. “The monk works as a part-time tour guide to help raise money for the school, known as the Angkor Buddhist Organization (ABO). The school is completely free for the children to attend, and relies mainly on sporadic assistance from private donors and non-profit organizations, including the Australian Red Cross.”

Guzman teaches Cambodian students

Guzman traveled to the remote village of Koktluk. “While I was there I taught a class of teenage girls, who were all so respectful, attentive, and eager to learn. Everything about the tiny school — from the well where they manage each day to provide the children with clean drinking water and a hot meal, to the open-air classrooms full of English educational posters and writings — was so impressive,” she says. “It was clear to me that a little assistance would go a long way to change these children’s lives.” Before she left, a teacher proudly showed her the school’s new library, where there was a small shelf with maybe a dozen books for the school of nearly 100 children.

To help, Guzman decided to do what she does so well – plan a special dinner and donate the proceeds toward buying books for the library. “I love food and bringing people together, and so a dinner to help the school seemed like a wonderful idea.” Working with friends at Uvaggio Wine Bar and No Name Chinese, she has organized a five-course dinner on May 2 prepared by No Name’s chef Pablo Zitzman, paired with wines from Uvaggio. The cost is $155 per person.

“Granted, it is just one school, in one remote village half a world away, but I have always felt we need to do our part whenever possible,” she says. “I hope people will join us for a wonderful evening, knowing it will make a difference in the lives of children.”

Students from Angkor Buddhist Organization (ABO) school

Special Dinner for Cambodia Menu

Crowes Pasture Oysters
Nuoc Cham Mignonette, Ginger Yuzu Granite, Mr Lee’s Jiaozi
Smashed Cucumber Salad
Soy & Chichiang Vinegar
Beef + Broccoli
Kung Pao Chicken
Walnut Tart
Chinese Five Spice Marshmallow & Asian Pear

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Article from Edible South Florida at http://ediblesouthflorida.ediblecommunities.com/things-do/dinner-cause
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