At a masquerade party in South Philadelphia this weekend, tuxedos and gowns are encouraged and glittery eye masks are optional — but sneakers are mandatory.
The Trauma Survivors Foundation hosts its annual Black Tie & Sneaker Gala at Live Casino & Hotel Saturday night, with a cocktail hour, dinner, and music from local favorites like the brass band Snacktime.
Founded by mental health and trauma counselor Dennis Carradin in 2013, the Delaware-based foundation has helped 30,000 individuals through crisis intervention and delivered over 40,000 meals to healthcare workers and first responders in over a hundred locations, per its website.
The sneaker gala is the foundation’s annual fundraiser, and this is its first time being held in Philly.
Culinary offerings are being curated by Ange Branca, who owned and operated Saté Kampar, a James Beard-nominated Malaysian restaurant that closed during the pandemic. Now, she’s using her culinary talent to reimagine Philly’s food scene through Kampar Kitchen, a platform meant to uplift underrepresented chefs and food.
“The food scene in Philly is not half as diverse as the people who live in it,” Branca told Billy Penn. “The accessible food scene is not up to par with the amount of diversity we have in the city.”
Branca highlights the range of food at the event, with the occasion featuring 11 chefs catering the cocktail reception and the main dinner. That includes Caphe Roasters’ Jacob Trinh, who specializes in Vietnamese-Chinese and Vietnamese-American flavors, and Mike Strauss from Mike’s BBQ, who’s making brisket sliders and smoked meatballs for dinner. Branca herself is serving curry puffs, an homage to her Malaysian heritage.
“Food to bring people together,” Branca said. “Especially coming right off several years of very difficult, traumatic situations — in different ways — for so many communities.
Up-and-coming James Beard Foundation Fellow Tonii Hicks will be cooking salt and pepper shrimp tostadas inspired by what she said was her habitual consumption of American-style Chinese takeout, as well as a poor experience she had with Chinese food when traveling in Mexico. In this dish, she plans on infusing American, Chinese, and Mexican flavors together.
“Two things: one that was a really bad experience and one that was a really good experience — and I combined them together,” Hicks said.
In addition, dinner will feature a Chilean salad bar from Mole Street Baker and a raw bar, among other eats. For dessert, Pennsport’s Cake & Joe will be making Northern Chinese sweet treats alongside East Passyunk’s Kouklet Brazilian Bakehouse, which specializes in Brazilian baked goods.
“Trauma doesn’t have a face, it doesn’t have a race and color … we work with a very diverse population,” Carradin said. “So bringing in all the different chefs and all different cultures almost emphasizes the fact that we have to heal in togetherness.”
The gala doesn’t just have flavorful eats — it also has an open bar, stocked with beer, wine, cocktails, and craft spirits from regional producers like Philadelphia Distilling, Revivalist Gin, Five Saints Distillery, and Kiki Vodka. There will also be beers from Delaware’s Big Oyster Brewery, which produces a Survivor’s IPA that raises funds for the foundation.
The foundation hopes to raise over $100,000 from the event, with these funds helping to provide trained therapists for emergency responses during and after traumatic events, to continue meal delivery programs for hospital staff, and to provide scholarships to those who want to become certified in trauma response.
This is the 10th time the fundraiser has been hosted, and it’s also the first time the event is occurring in Philly.
“I want everyone to come. If [you] can’t make it, buy a ticket for someone who can,” Branca said. “It’s going to be a big party.”
Admission to the cocktail reception from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m starts at $75, and a ticket to the main event, which runs through 11:30 p.m. and includes the open bar, carving stations, a raw bar, auctions, and music, start at $150.