Community news: Chef Lidia Bastianich speaks at fundraiser for Darien's Person to Person, and more

Chefs lead fundraiser for Person to Person 

The Transforming Lives Luncheon, with special guest acclaimed chef Lidia Bastianich in conversation with Aux Délices owner Debra Ponzek, raised more than $255,000 to support the Darien-based Person to Person.

P2P is a nonprofit provider of essential services for people in need in Fairfield County.

"Events like this help educate everyone about the level of need in our county. It's a bigger problem than people realize, given the affluence of the surrounding towns. Many people do not realize how many people count on food banks to assist them in their day-to-day lives," said Ponzek, referring to the 17 percent of Connecticut residents who are food insecure.

More than 350 guests attended the luncheon on Oct. 27 at the Greenwich Country Club, enjoying a three-course gourmet meal selected by Bastianich from among her favorite recipes and prepared by GCC Executive Chef Alejandro Abad.

Every attendee also received an autographed copy of her latest cookbook, "Lidia's a Pot, a Pan, and a Bowl."

Bastianich is a longtime supporter of P2P, donating her time and food to the organization. During the COVID-19 pandemic, she donated Lidia's pasta and sauce to feed thousands of families through P2P's three food pantries.

"Lidia and Debra are trailblazers in their industry and both so committed to supporting charitable work. They both care deeply about P2P's mission to provide access to healthy food. They inspire me, and I am grateful to them for sharing their time with us," said Nancy Coughlin, P2P chief executive officer.

While the guests enjoyed the meal, Bastianich and Ponzek engaged in a conversation touching on topics ranging from Bastianich's European refugee experience, coming to America and the role of food and family in her life.

Bastianich explained that her relationship with food stems from her grandmother, recalling that the tastes and smells from her early childhood are "still vivid in my mind." Her cooking and recipes attempt to recreate the aromas and flavors from that time. "She is always with me in that sense," Bastianich said.  

Person to Person is dedicated to providing individuals and families with essential resources to help them overcome daily challenges and put them on a path toward economic stability. For more information, visit

Darien woman made trustee at Family Centers

The Board of Trustees at the Greenwich-based Family Centers elected Kate Clark of Greenwich to the position of Board Chair and elected Jen Hyde of Darien as a trustee at its 131st annual meeting Nov. 3.

Hyde is involved in several local organizations and serves as Greenwich Academy’s Parent Association president. She also served on the Parents Association Board and 2020 Senior Fund Committee at Brunswick School.  

In September, Hyde co-chaired the Center for HOPE’s annual luncheon featuring actress Jenny Mollen and interior designer Amanda Lindroth. 

Hyde earned a bachelor's degree in government from Harvard University, and had a successful career at Salomon Smith Barney. She lives in Darien with her husband, Jake, and four children.

Since joining the Board of Directors in 2015, Clark has been involved in the planning and execution of the nonprofit agency’s governance and program development initiatives. She was co-chair of Family Centers’ Early Education Committee and also served as the chair of the Governance Committee for several years.

As part of the Development Committee, Clark co-chaired numerous benefit galas and luncheon fundraisers. She previously served as vice chair and secretary. Clark succeeds Nancy Casserley, who served as board chair for three years.

Clark holds a bachelor's degree from Southern Methodist University and lives in Greenwich with her husband, Jim, and her two teenage sons. In addition to her work with Family Centers, Clark also serves on the Board of the Greenwich International Film Festival.  

Family Centers is a private, nonprofit organization offering education and human services to children, adults and families in Fairfield County through a range of programs. Visit for additional information.

DHS stages ‘The Tempest’ as a musical 

Darien High School’s Theatre 308 club is presenting its fall production of “The Tempest,” offering an original and music-filled take on the classic by William Shakespeare.

Performances will be at 7 p.m. Nov. 17, Nov. 18 and Nov. 19 in the DHS auditorium.

An evening at “The Tempest” promises moving performances, eye-catching sets and effects, elaborate costumes, a live folk-rock band and original music composed by DHS senior John Raskopf.

Under the direction of Andrew Rejan, the play’s setting is influenced by the Woodstock rock concert of 1969 while maintaining the authenticity of Shakespeare’s original language.

“I think that a play about being trapped on an island is especially relevant in the wake of the pandemic, but I was also drawn to the way the play celebrates the magic of theater. The Tempest is unique in the way it folds so much into a single play. It can be profound, intense, funny, bizarre and hopeful," Rejan said.  

The show is the culmination of two months of work for more than 60 students, actors, musicians, choreographers, stage crew members and production designers.

Tickets, $10 for students and senior citizens and $20 for general admission, can be purchased at or at the door.

Darien honored for climate work 

Sustainable CT, a statewide voluntary certification program that supports best practices in Connecticut municipalities, has announced its list of certified communities, including Darien, and an inaugural cohort of Climate Leaders.

A total of 24 municipalities earned 2022 Sustainable CT certification.

The following towns qualified for bronze-level certification: Ashford, Cheshire, Deep River, East Haddam, East Lyme, Goshen, Lyme, New London, Rocky Hill, Southbury, Stonington, Torrington, Waterford, West Haven and Windsor.  

Towns that achieved silver-level certification, the highest level offered, are Coventry, Darien, Essex, Guilford, Manchester, Mansfield, New Haven, Vernon and Wilton.

In addition, Sustainable CT awarded its first-ever Climate Leader designations this fall. The program was piloted in 2022 to support the acceleration of municipal actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the changing climate. Through successful implementation of multiple climate actions, five towns earned distinction as the first cohort of Sustainable CT Climate Leaders: Fairfield, Glastonbury, New Britain, Stratford and West Hartford.

Certified communities demonstrated significant achievements in at least 12 sustainability impact areas, ranging from thriving local economies and vibrant arts and culture to clean transportation and affordable housing. In addition, certified municipalities addressed issues of equity and inclusion when implementing sustainability actions.

“Congratulations to our first-ever Sustainable CT Climate Leaders and our 2022 certified communities,” said Lynn Stoddard, executive director of Sustainable CT. “We are inspired by the leadership and commitment of these communities. From elected officials and town staff to resident volunteers, these certified towns and Climate Leaders are improving opportunities and the quality of life for all.”

For more information, visit

DCA offers holiday greens wreath workshop  

The Darien Community Association’s Greenhouse Group will lead a holiday greens wreath workshop from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Dec. 1.  

The workshop is designed to allow participants to create a festive wreath. Participants should bring gloves and pruners. The DCA will provide fresh greens, ribbons and a variety of embellishments. Masks are required.

The workshop is $40 for nonmembers and $30 for DCA members.

Register online at or by calling 203-655-9050 by Nov, 28. The DCA is located at 274 Middlesex Road.

Nutcracker Tea to kick off the holidays 

The Darien Community Association will offer its Nutcracker Tea — back by popular demand — on Nov. 27.

The tea, which will be held in the DCA's historic mansion at 274 Middlesex Road from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., will kick off the Christmas holiday season. 

The menu, provided by Palmer’s Catering, will include traditional tea sandwiches such as smoked salmon and capers, long stem strawberries dipped in dark chocolate, holiday cookies and assorted teas.

For the children, festive sandwich cut-outs and raspberry lemonade will be served.

Dancers from the Darien Arts Center will entertain the audience with abbreviated "Scenes from the Nutcracker."

The cost is $40 per child and $50 per adult. Prepayment is required by noon Nov. 18 and may be made online at or 203-655-9050 extension 10.

Yale child psychologist to speak 

Parents and guardians are invited to "Parent Talk: Keep Calm and Parent On," featuring Yale child psychologist Nancy Close.

The free event will be held from 9 to 10 a.m. Dec. 5, in the Early Childhood building of New Canaan Country School campus, 635 Frogtown Road, New Canaan.  

The one-hour in-person presentation and Q&A is free and open to the public and intended for parents of children ages 2 to 10 who want research-based insights and practical advice for raising happy, healthy children.

Close is an assistant professor at the Yale Child Study Center; associate director of the Yale Program in Early Childhood Education and a lecturer in psychology. She also serves as clinical director of the Yale Parent and Family Development Program, specializing in infant mental health, parenting and the assessment and treatment of children under age 5.

The event is presented by the YWCA of Darien/Norwalk, New Canaan Cares and New Canaan Country School.

For more information and to register, visit

Darien choirs to perform 'Songs of the Season' at the Palace 

The Palace Theatre in Stamford will offer a special "Songs of the Season" concert as part of its lineup of events as the winter holiday season approaches. 

The concert, set for 6 p.m. Dec. 4 at the theater, 61 Atlantic St. in Stamford, will star Marjorie Donald and feature the Darien Middlesex Middle School Camerata Singers, the Darien High School Tudor Singers and Greenwich Public Schools Honor Choir.

Tickets are $20 and may be purchased on or by calling the box office at 203-325-4466.