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CALABASH—It started with assorted social gatherings, accompanied by delicious hors d’oeuvres.
Whenever Sunset River Marketplace gallery stages an artsy gala or artist debut, inevitably patrons will ask who provided the tasty food.
“We do it here,” gallery owner Ginny Lassiter said. “So we kind of jokingly started saying, ‘The Gallery Gals.’”
Those with the inquiring minds and questions then thought that was the name of the gallery’s catering company. Not only did they want a piece of the pie, so to speak, they also wanted the recipe.
That was the inspiration behind The Gallery Gals Appetizers!, a little fundraising recipe book the gallery published and launched last year.
The book is a compilation of 47 “scrumptilicious” recipes contributed by “The Gallery Gals,” consisting of gallery employees and friends who have prepared and donated compliment-worthy concoctions for the assorted events.
It’s also a way to aid hospice, inspired last year when the gallery, in conjunction with Lower Cape Fear Hospice and LifeCafeCenter, staged a benefit showcasing work by Co Bungener, a Netherlands native and artist whose “bucket-list” wish was to have his own art show before he died. Bungener passed away at Shallotte Assisted Living just days after his April show.
“We all became so attached to Co in that short time,” said gallery publicist Dariel Bendin. “So it was real natural to tie [the recipe book] in with him.”
A photograph of Bungener, attired in a donated tuxedo at his first and only art show, appears on the booklet’s introductory page.
“We wanted to dedicate it to him,” she said.
Babs Ludwick was selected as the “natural fit” artist to illustrate the little appetizer book, Lassiter said. “Her work was perfect for it.”
“They wanted sweet and funky,” said Ludwick, who produced an array of freestyle food pen-and-ink drawings, colorized with markers, to illustrate the recipes.
“I just sat down and did ‘em in two afternoons,” said Ludwick, who produced additional drawings as requested by Bendin for the final publication.
Bendin said she would call Ludwick and say, “ ‘I’d really like to have an avocado.’ And an avocado would show up at my door.”
Ludwick also donated her original illustrations, available for sale at the gallery with all proceeds going to hospice.
Gallery employee Debbie Bissette collected recipes for the book, including a few of her own. Offerings range from Lassiter’s recipes for baked brie with apricot preserves and blue cheese-walnut wafers to assorted dips and spreads, deviled eggs, Mississippi caviar made with black-eyed peas, bruschetta, hummus, and other down-home appetizers that have helped make gallery events so delectable.
Copies of the booklet sell for $15 each. At last count, sales of the book had raised more than $4,100 to be donated toward hospice's "Closer to Home" $3.5 million capital campaign to build a hospice facility in Brunswick County.
Copies of the recipe book are available at Sunset River Marketplace, Calabash Garden Tea Room, Turtle Crossing Cupcakes, Victoria's Ragpatch and several shops at the Low Country Stores complex, including All About the Carolinas, The Yardbird Emporium and Bamboo Boutique, all in Calabash.
For more information, call the gallery during business hours Mondays through Saturdays at 575-5999.