By Sue Moretti Bodson
Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful and recognize all that connects family and friends. The same can apply to the larger community; more than ever, we must realize that we have more that unites us than not. On Tuesday, November 23, the Boys and Girls Club of Greenwich came together to celebrate their 19th annual Thanksgiving, returning this year in person after a hybrid pickup event last year.
The club’s “family” of 350 boys and girls dined on a traditional Thanksgiving dish generously donated by Thanksgiving party supporters: Stew Leonard’s (20 turkeys), Acme Foundation (250 apple and pumpkin pies), Bimbo Bakeries (buns) and financial support from Creamer Landscaping & Lawn Care, Morgan Stanley, the Hilton family and Bryan Quackenbush.
Most notably, Courtnay’s Kitchen donated and prepared 24 ten-pound roasted turkey breasts, traditional stuffing, buttered green beans, mashed potatoes and homemade cranberry compote.
“The Boys & Girls Club of Greenwich is happy to partner with Courtnay’s Kitchen, who supplied and prepared the food for our 19th Annual Thanksgiving Feast for our kids at the club,” said Cristina Vittoria, General Manager of Boys & Girls Greenwich Club.
“We are delighted to be returning to an in-person celebration at the Club and are extremely grateful for the generosity and dedication of Courtnay and his team. This event highlights the support we receive from the Greenwich community, as well as their kindness and generosity, ”added Vittoria.
When first approached to open her kitchen to prepare the Club’s annual children’s feast, Courtnay Arpano didn’t hesitate. “It’s just the way we ride,” said Arpano, noting that in addition to herself, her staff also volunteered.
“I applaud Courtnay Arpano and Courtnay’s Kitchen for supporting the BGCG Club Kids Thanksgiving Day,” said head coach Fred Camillo.
Courtnay’s Kitchen has been located at 136 Hamilton Avenue for just over three years, during most of Covid. In March 2020, Courtnay’s Kitchen completed a full pivot from in-store delivery to door-to-door delivery. In those early days of Covid, people were reluctant to go to the grocery store. Due to the influx of family members, including returning home students to Greenwich, and the increase in the number of people working from home in need of home dining options during the work day, Arpano saw an increase in demand for its weekly online delivery service, which offered breakfast, lunch and dinner. In fact, Courtnay’s Kitchen saw a six-fold increase in sales from 2019. In early 2021, comfort levels began to rise as the vaccine became available. She then relaunched her popular cleansers, which still sell.
Healthy cooking and healthy options are a passion for Arpano, but so is giving back.
“It’s a calling,” she said. “I don’t think twice – it’s the right thing to do morally. ”
Over the years, Arpano has made countless kitchen donations and silent auction donations supporting many local charities including the Boys & Girls Club of Greenwich, The Undies Project, Neighbor to Neighbor, the Backpack Project. Bridgeport and Make a Wish, among others. . Proceeds from a partnership with the Breast Cancer Alliance “Cleanse for a Cure” resulted in a donation of $ 3,500.
In April 2020, she raised over $ 12,000 for Neighbor to Neighbor with her Family Fried Chicken fundraiser. Then, on the last Thanksgiving, she provided over 100 Thanksgiving meals to our local seniors through the Commission on Aging and the Greenwich Senior Center.
“I received thank you notes from all over the country thanking me for taking care of their parents who were locked up due to Covid,” Arpano said.
Arpano’s charitable activities extend beyond its cuisine. Twelve years ago, Arpano and his friends Vicki Carver and Toby Peters started the Spirit of Friendship. The trio brings together their friends every year for a festive meal together during the holidays. Instead of an exchange of gifts, the Spirit of Friendship has become a group giving circle to donate funds to local charities. Arpano said it was something his mother did in Hilton Head, South Carolina. Over the past 11 years, the three have raised over $ 140,000 in donations to local charities. Arpano provides food for 40 to 50 participants each, which typically raises $ 12 to $ 15,000 per meeting. The 12th Spirit of Friendship will take place in early December at a local house.
In addition to his charitable contributions, Arpano also uplifts people. Arpano was introduced to fellow aspiring chef Robert Cox, who began his culinary career at Boulud Sud in New York City. Cox then went to Paris to cook at Rigmarole and Septime, a Michelin rated restaurant but returned to the United States because of Covid. Seeking to make ends meet during a pandemic, Cox became the recipient of Arpano’s grace and hospitality. In September and October 2020, Cox used Courtnay’s Kitchen as a base to cook his Michelin One Star Dinners to take out every Thursday night.
“Robbie Cox is a brilliant chef, and I was so happy to give him a place to cook and provide him with the resources he needed,” smiled Arpano, acknowledging that she had helped her peer through the tough times. of Covid. Currently, Cox is an acclaimed chef at Fradei in Brooklyn, NY. Of his acts of kindness, Arpano said, “I do it because I can.”
“It is important to recognize the local small businesses in Greenwich who have stepped forward to support those in need during these difficult times,” said Camillo. “Courtnay’s Kitchen is a prime example of a small business owner who has given back to his community of Greenwich to help his neighbors in Greenwich, quietly and without asking for recognition. Courtnay and his company are examples of how compassionate our Greenwich community is. “