Unsung Heroes #240

Last week’s Queer Cook-Off was a ton of fun. Local celebrities (1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker! State Senate candidate Ceci Maher! Former Staples High principal John Dodig!) competed to create — in just 30 minutes, from a “mystery box” of ingredients — an appetizer and entrée.

As a judge, I can honestly and happily say: “Yum!” And as a member of Westport Pride, I add: “Thanks to the 100-plus people who came to our fundraiser!”

But the real story is the chefs who headed each team. Bill Taibe (Don Memo, Kawa Ni, The Whelk), Jes Bengtson (Terrain Café. Amis Trattoria) and Arik Bensimon (Monogram Design Center) led their teams with creativity, flair, passion — and plenty of zest.

From left: Bill Taibe, Jes Bengtson, Arik Bensimon.

Here’s the thing: Bill, Jes and Arik get hit up for everything. Whenever there’s an event, function, gala, fundraiser, cause or whatever, they’re asked to help.

Sometimes it’s money. Sometimes it’s time. Often it’s food.

They always say yes. Then they do whatever they can to go above and beyond, for whoever they’re helping.

It’s the same with Tony Aitoro. The CEO of Aitoro Appliance in Norwalk always donates his large space for non-profit events. Tony’s on the scene too, smiling and helping and making sure everyone has a good time.

The Queer Cook-Off was especially right for Aitoro, because all 3 teams actually used the high-end appliances that fill the showroom.

Tony Aitoro (left) was also a judge at the Queer Cook-Off. He confers with Westport Pride founder Brian McGunagle.

So thank you Bill, Jes, Arik and Tony. You are this week’s Unsung Heroes. Now I just hope I haven’t given everyone else the idea of asking you for help.

BONUS FEATURE: Speaking of Aitoro: A couple of years ago, I needed a new refrigerator. I told the salesman there exactly what I wanted: The most basic model they had. I did not need a refrigerator that texted me when I was running low on milk, or one with separate compartments for arugula and endive. All I needed was something to keep my food from spoiling.

He took me right over to the least expensive refrigerator. “I could try to tell you why you need a more expensive model,” he said. “But I won’t. This one is fine.”

I bought it on the spot. And I became an Aitoro customer for life. 

(Do you know an Unsung Hero? Email 06880blog@gmail.com)

2 responses to “Unsung Heroes #240

  1. Thanks, Dan for this great shout out to 4 generous people — they all deserve to be recognized!

  2. Barbara Sherburne '67

    Excellent article, Dan! (I don’t know why my comment has not shown up.)