Have you ever dreamed of having four famous chefs preparing a four-course dinner for you, all nestled in Tuscany? Well, your dream can come true! At least part of it.
The Pine Bluff Symphony Orchestra is hosting a fundraiser dinner at 6 p.m. Friday at the Pine Bluff Country Club.
“Tuscan Affair to Remember” will feature chefs Jamie McAfee, Donnie Ferneau, Brian Hargis and Jay McAfee, who will prepare antipasto, insulata, pasta and dessert for your delight, all right there for you to watch. Between the delicious pasta and the ambiance, you will feel as if you are in a family-owned Italian restaurant right in the middle of Tuscany with Roberto at your table.
Jamie McAfee, 52, is the club manager, executive chef, and food and beverage director at the Pine Bluff Country Club. He has 37 years of experience in the culinary field, with the last 26 years involved in the country club business.
His father was a Navy chef, worked for the Peabody Association, and was the manager/chef at the McGehee Country Club at McGehee.
After graduating at the top of his class from Memphis Culinary Academy in 1985, Jamie McAfee worked as a chef at Café’ Meridian in Memphis. He later returned to McGehee Country Club to become manager/chef in 1986. In 2003, he and his family moved to the Pine Bluff Country Club.
He has attended numerous workshops, seminars and presentations in San Francisco, Washington, D.C., New Orleans, and Florida. He graduated from Pulaski Technical College with an associate’s degree in culinary arts and is currently working on becoming a certified culinary educator. He is also pursuing a club manager’s certification.
While he has accumulated more than 1000 teaching hours, he puts those hours to good use, teaching at Pulaski Technical College in the Culinary Arts department. McAfee serves on the college’s board of directors. He also serves as chairman of the board of directors of the Arkansas Chapter of the American Culinary Federation. He is also a past president of the Arkansas Hospitality Association.
The following are awards that McAfee has received: Arkansas Chef of the Year twice; two bronze medals in Culinary Federation competitions; two gold, two silver and two bronze medals at Arkansas Hospitality competitions. In July he is being inducted into the American Academy of Chefs, which is one of the highest honors bestowed by the American culinary Federation.
Ferneau attended culinary school in Iowa and apprenticed throughout the Midwest before heading south to Arkansas, working under chefs in Little Rock before venturing out on his own. Ferneau, well-known for his meet-and-greet flair, can often be seen mingling among restaurant patrons, making sure they are having a positive dining experience. No matter where the kitchen is, he is busy in the community with local culinary programs to help students realize their dreams.
Ferneau provides cooking demonstrations and classes and competes in events statewide. He has also developed and marketed a signature line of flavorful seasonings which carry the name Ferneau Seasonings Signature Blend. He is currently working on the opening of a new restaurant in Little Rock, which will be announced before the end of the summer to the delight of his many patrons.
Under the direction of Hargis, Five Oaks Catering was established in October 2006. Hargis is also from McGehee. He has studied, trained and apprenticed under two-time Arkansas Chef of the Year, Jamie McAfee.
Hargis brings his 12 years of culinary art experience to every event he participates in. The Five Oaks Catering Company is responsible for all functions and meals at the highly acclaimed Five Oaks Duck Lodge outside Stuttgart. The skilled preparation, distinctive presentations and professional service provided by Hargis and his staff make every event exceptional. He is a member of the American Culinary Federation and Arkansas Chef Association. He is in the process of completing his training to become a certified executive chef.
Hargis, a resident of Stuttgart, is married and has three sons.
Jay McAfee is a third generation chef. He was born in the small town of McGehee. After high school, he attended University of Southern Mississippi, where he graduated in 2002, receiving his bachelor’s degree. Coming back to his calling, he started training under his father, Jamie McAfee, at the Pine Bluff Country Club. While working, Jay attended the Arkansas Culinary School. He received the once in a lifetime opportunity to work under Chef Paul Prudhomme at his restaurant, K-Paul’s in New Orleans’ French Quarter. Jay graduated from the Arkansas Culinary School in 2006. He is currently working as a culinary instructor at Pulaski Technical College in Little Rock. He resides in Pine Bluff with his wife and two children.
Tickets to “Tuscan Affair to Remember” are available by calling the Symphony Orchestra office at 870-536-7666 by Tuesday. Tickets are $60 per person, which includes a cash bar. Attire is business casual.
All fundraising efforts by the PBSO support youth and educational programs.
The youth concert is an annual undertaking by the PBSO, which also sends docents to the classroom to discuss the instruments played in the orchestra and their sounds, as well as discussing the music and composers for the works the students will hear at the concert. Other programs provided by the PBSO include an instrument loan program for students who cannot purchase them in order to make it possible for all children to participate in school orchestra programs. Currently, approximately 200 instruments are available through this program.
Each summer, an orchestra workshop is held and is open to all string music students and interested adults for one week. Each year, different instructors and conductors work with the students to develop their skills and expose them to different teaching styles.
Professional musicians also work with individuals or small groups of junior and senior high school students to develop and improve their skills. This program often helps students who cannot afford private lessons a means of honing their skills well enough to gain acceptance to All-Region and All-State Orchestras, and often helps enable the student earn college scholarships.
The PBSO also provides opportunities for seventh through 12-graders to play in an audition-selected Pine Bluff Symphony Youth Orchestra. This orchestra provides students the opportunity to gain additional skills, play more difficult music, and perform with a full orchestra. The orchestra rehearses weekly during its season and performs several times throughout the year.
Charles Jones Evans, music director, is in his 20th season with the Pine Bluff Symphony Orchestra. Evans selects music for the approximately 65 piece orchestra made up of players from Pine Bluff, central Arkansas and universities in central and northeastern Arkansas. In addition to the Pine Bluff Symphony Orchestra, Evans also serves as music director of the Long Bay Symphony and LBS Youth Orchestra in Myrtle Beach, S.C.