The Gift Bag: Sponsors of Ladies' High Tea

By Hairee Lee

Our fundraising event wouldn't have looked as beautiful or our gift bags filled with anything if not for the generosity of our sponsors who donated their talent and time. Every person save one is an entrepreneur and trying to make successful their small business in the tough economy. So their generosity was particularly meaningful.

I chose to contact these particular people because I believe they have great products and services. Dinner Series loves to support local business and is a huge proponent of buying local. We hope that our guests enjoyed the treats in their gift bags and choose to support these great businesses in the future.

Gilbert Tsang is the president of MEM Tea Imports. I discovered his tea when a coworker brewed a pot of Mate Cascarilla purchased at Fromaggio. I tried it and loved it. Within minutes of emailing Gilbert about the event, he responded with an enthusiastic yes. Not only did he donate 4 different types of teas hand chosen by himself, he provided each of our guests with an incredibly generous sample size for them to enjoy at home.

From a brief mention during our correspondance, I know Gilbert has a personal stake in breast cancer treatment. This could account for his generous donation. It could also account for his attention to detail about providing instructions for how to brew the teas based on the volume capacities of our tea pots, lending us tea scoops made to measure for his teas, his friendliness and professionalism. Whatever the reason, his teas are fabulous and MEM Tea Imports service is top notch. Grab yours at Fromaggio and other locations around the greater Boston area.

BudiBar by Michael McCarthy was my top pic at New England Dessert Showcase. They didn't look like much at the time, but they tasted fabulous and I knew once I started thinking about sponsors for our event, that I wanted each guest to try his bars. Made of what are known as superfood ingredients, BudiBars are packed with good for you stuff and good tasting too. It's the only way I'll eat anything and if they're good for me, then so be it.

My boyfriend, a surgical resident at MGH, keeps them in his locker and has one for breakfast every morning.

"They're small so I don't have to spend time chewing for three minutes. ((Three minutes is apparently a lot in doctor time.)) And they're damn tasty." Seriously, they are.

O'Sugar! Cakery is owned by Michelle Bowden who makes designer cakes and cupcakes and often works with Rago Events to provide the baked goods for Maria's table styling. I tasted her cake truffles (pictured below) for the first time at the New England Dessert Showcase 2011 and I was so pleasantly surprised by how good they were, so smitten with you decorative skills, that I wanted her truffle cakes to be the first thing our guest had a chance to savor when they arrived to the afternoon tea.

Michelle exceeded my expectations by not only delivering her truffle cakes, but also donating cake pop sprinkled with pink sugar, which she packaged and decorated with pink ribbon in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Maria Rago Cohan is the creator and owner of Rago Events. She designs amazing dessert buffets. I asked her to be a part of the Ladies' High Tea event after seeing her gorgeous table at the New England Dessert Showcase 2011. Adding touches of her generously donated and beautifully crafted candies was like the jewelry with a great dress and a hot pair of shoes: totally necessary to make our tea buffet table just right.

Bonnie's Jams is owned by Bonnie Shershow. I first tried Bonnie's jam during Cocktail 5: Berry Rosé Sangria, part of the Summer Cocktail Series 2011. We paired the cocktail with some cheeses with a side of jam, a great idea to bring a bit of sweetness to a cheese platter. Her jam was delicious. And so when the scones Laura was making for the tea called for a side of jam, I thought of Bonnie's jams immediately.

Bonnie was just as quick to respond with an enthusiastic yes. She not only provided the jam enjoyed at the tea, but donated four more full-sized jars of her New York Times featured jams that we raffled off at the event.

Hallie's Flower Garden was voted Best of Boston 2010 for flowers. And we are certainly fans of Hallie's flowers. Her gorgeous roses were largely donated for the event and without them the tables would not have looked nearly as beautiful as they turned out. Something to keep in mind that we learned that day from Hallie: if you need the blooms to open up faster, then just put your flowers in lukewarm water.

And last but certainly not least...

Gavin Kleespies, executive director of Cambridge Historical Society donated part of the society's time for our event. Melissa and I visited the house on a rainy afternoon and even then the beauty of the rooms and ideal setting for our event was obvious.

On the day of the event, Gavin was incredibly helpful in assisting us to make our event a success and the pictures of the event speak for themselves. The space is beautifully preserved largely due to Gavin's respect for history and vigilance. We look forward to having more events and the CHS.