“I’m very honored to be a part of this wonderful community of people, in a place such as SoFo that gives people an opportunity to reconnect with their backyard, which is beautiful and should be preserved,” actor Adrian Grenier told Hamptons.com. “Its mission is to inspire young people to appreciate the diversity and the nature that is right at their fingertips, and connect with the world at large, and be stewards of the planet.”
On Saturday, July 11th, South Fork Natural History Museum (SoFo) honored artist April Gornik, American actor, producer, director, and musician Adrian Grenier, and conservationist Willi Salm during its 26th Annual Summer Gala. “Top Chef” alum Kerry Heffernan, “Food for Thought, Food for Life” director Susan Rockefeller and Hamptons Magazine Editor-In-Chief Samantha Yanks served as the evening’s co-chairs.
The benefit kicked off with a VIP cocktail reception, where attendees tried bites from a group of notable East End chefs, who were recruited in part by Gala co-chair Kerry Heffernan. “I just called a few friends, and they called a few friends, and this is the result,” he shared. Featured chefs included Colin Ambrose of Estia’s Little Kitchen; Todd Jacobs of Fresh Hamptons; Matt Ketcham of Ketcham’s Seafarm; Kyle Koenig of Topping Rose House; Sam McClelland of The Bell & Anchor; Andrew Schor of East Hampton Grill; Joe Tremblay of BayBurger; Jason Weiner of Almond; Antico Noè; and Swedish Culinary Summer. “These are people that are more than just leaders in their field,” Heffernan noted about the talented culinary experts. “They’ve given back to the community and they’ve helped educate a broad number of people.”
Proceeds from the benefit support the educational and environmental programming at the Museum, which SoFo President Andy Sabin believes is the key to preserving the beauty of the East End. “We’re all here to protect what’s precious and teach our kids to really appreciate our environment,” said Sabin. “We set up the Museum to educate adults and children about nature. I believe we have an obligation to protect what’s precious.”
Along with paying tribute to each honoree during the event, SoFo had a special surprise for “Entourage” star Adrian Grenier, who celebrated his 39th birthday the day before. Heffernan presented Grenier with a clam rake, which the chef joked was the “bonacker workout.” Grenier graciously accepted the present and said that he loves to cook, but would need a little assistance from Heffernan learning how to use his new gift. Representatives from Korin Knives were also on hand to present Grenier and all the participating chefs with a personalized knife. Later in the evening, Chef Peter Ambrose surprised Grenier with a reptile replica birthday cake, as the crowd serenaded the actor with a rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday.”
Honoree April Gornik was beyond thrilled to be a part of the event. “I’m deeply grateful to be honored because South Fork Natural History Museum has been one of the linchpins in keeping the environment healthy out here and educating children and adults as to what our actual environmental makeup is, in terms of its history and present day,” shared Gornik. “It’s people like Andy and the Natural History Museum that will really ensure the most beautiful things about this area remain intact; otherwise we’re in real danger of losing it.”
Her love for the Bridgehampton-based Museum is what made Susan Rockefeller co-chair SoFo’s Gala for the second year in a row. Rockefeller, who bonded with honoree Adrian Grenier over their mutual interest in sustainably, appreciates how the Museum showcases a variety of wildlife and plant life from the East End. “I cannot believe the diversity of wildlife that is here,” said Rockefeller.
Board of Directors member Carl Safina told us he thinks this year’s soiree is their best yet. “This is the nicest party we’ve had in years, and I’m personally thrilled that we have a live band,” he expressed. While the annual happening gives SoFo and their supports a reason to celebrate, it also brings awareness to the important cause. “If people don’t appreciate where they live (and that’s really what this is about) then they live a much poorer existence,” remarked Safina. “We’re trying to show people how rich the nature is here and help them really enjoy it, so they will take care of it.”
South Fork Natural History Museum & Nature Center is located at 377 Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike in Bridgehampton. For more information, visit sofo.org.