The Spinazzola Family
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The Spinazzola Family

Jim Poris / January 2007

Food Arts presents the January/February 2007 Silver Spoon Award for sterling performance to Dorothy Spinazzola and two of her five children, Christopher Spinazzola and Elizabeth Caprio, who, through their Anthony Spinazzola Foundation, have raised nearly $7 million for culinary and hospitality scholarships, mentoring programs, and homeless and food charities throughout the Greater Boston area. Named for family patriarch Anthony Spinazzola, the longtime food critic of the Boston Globe, who passed away suddenly in 1985 at age 56, the foundation realizes the bulk of its contributions from an annual two day, midwinter bash that attracts prom-primped revelers/donors to the Seaport World Trade Center to sup samples from a phalanx of bold-faced name and local chefs. Over its 21 years, the foundation's Gala Festival of Food & Wine has given its culinary student beneficiaries the chance to slice and dice alongside the likes of the late Jean-Louis Palladin, Bobby Flay, Susan Spicer, Michael Mina, and Daniel Boulud, as well as every Beantowner from Jody Adams to Jasper White. Among the participating chefs at this year's gathering (February 8 and 9) is Thomas Keller.

Though now such a fixture of Boston's social season that it's simply known as "the Spin," the gathering of chefs, restaurateurs, and vintners for a charity benefit was something of a novel idea when the first gala was held in 1986. That event raised $100,000 for an enduring memorial scholarship fund in Anthony Spinazzola's name at the Boston University School of Hotel and Food Administration. Moved to midwinter to lure visitors during Boston's frigid slack time, Spinazzola has spun off collaborative and concurrent events such as the Boston Harbor Wine Festival (1990), the Boston Wine Expo (1992), and BostonCooks! (1997). In 1997, the visiting chefs began cooking a benefit dinner for 130 at Aujourd'hui in the Four Seasons Hotel, which is now established as the opening salvo of the pointed revelry.

Christopher, a restaurateur in his own right (Stoneforge Foxboro, Foxboro, MA), serves as board chairman, a position that "takes up at least one-fourth of every day." He recently hitched part of the foundation to Richard Grausman's C-CAP program, setting a future course which will see it become more involved in placing high school students in collegiate culinary programs or directly into restaurants and hotels. Dorothy, who started Spinazzola's Restaurant in suburban Framingham after her husband's death, "is the moral compass for the foundation," says her son. "We got a lot from dad, but we get our sense of compassion from her. She's the most gracious person I've ever met." Elizabeth, an executive with the media conglomerate Clear Channel, works on securing the foundation's sponsorships and as set designer of the thematic walk-around party. The other siblings--David, Toni, and Stacie--lend a hand when needed.

"When I walk through the hall and people tell me that it's their 12th year here and that they've brought six friends with them and made a weekend out of it, I'm overwhelmed," says Christopher. "I'm humbled by how big it's become and how much support it has. Never in my wildest dreams did I see this."