TONI ROSS & CLAUDIA FLEMING

Toni Ross & Claudia Fleming 

The Hayground School in Bridgehampton celebrated its 20th Anniversary Sunday evening, July 31, at their 12th Annual Chefs Dinner. This delicious night honored Hayground co-founder Toni Ross (co-founder of Nick and Toni’s restaurant) and Chef Claudia Fleming of the North Fork Table & Inn. A benefit for the school and its tuition assistance programs, the evening raised just over $338,000.

The sold out evening for just 150 guests began with al fresco hors d’oeuvres created by five superb chefs; Josh Capon of Lure Fishbar and Bowery Meat Company, Abigail Hitchcock of Camaje Bistro, Christian Mir of Stone Creek Inn, Jason Weiner of Almond and L&W Oyster Co, and Hayground’s own Arjun Achuthan, and cocktails and wine from Leslie Merinoff of Ownery’s Rum.

A five course dinner followed, with plates prepared in turn by Alex Guarnaschelli of Butter; Tom Colicchio of Crafted Hospitality; Joe Realmuto of Nick & Toni’s and Townline BBQ; Marc Meyer of Cookshop, Hundred Acres and Rosie’s; and chef Elizabeth Falkner, and with help from master fromager Michael Cavaniola of Cavaniola’s. Sommelier Julie Berger of Nick & Toni’s paired superb wines with each course. The chefs came together to work as one in Hayground’s own “Jeff’s Kitchen.”

The heartfelt speeches included Mark Ross, chef Tom Colicchio, Liz Bertsch, and Jason Weiner. Founder Toni Ross was introduced by her children, Noah and Sara Salaway. She brought down the house declaring, “Tonight I am no longer Toni Ross, I have changed my name to Toni Hayground.” She also expressed deep gratitude and respect for her co-honoree, Claudia Fleming, calling her both “a generous friend and the best baker on the planet.” Lot 1 Auctioneers’ Charles Antin conducted a lively auction, declaring “reach to your wineglasses and finish them” before he began.

Guests included Dorothy Lichtenstein, Paul Goldberger, Tinka Topping, Sima and Morad Ghadamian, Almond Zigmund, and Ron Kaplan.

Hayground is a diverse, mixed aged school in Bridgehampton, NY founded in 1996 for children ages 3-14. More than 85% of its students receive financial aid. It was founded on the conviction that all children can and should live a life of the mind, that social and environmental responsibility are fundamental educational initiatives, that art be at the center rather than the periphery of life, and that food, the cultivation and preparation of it, is one of the best educational tools at our disposal. To this end, each day the children prepare lunch for the whole school, using food that they have grown and harvested in the garden and greenhouses. In this way, the kitchen is a gateway to many basic classroom concepts.

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