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November 13, 2008 4:19 PM

Holland & Knight's 'Top Chefs'

Posted by Vivia Chen

Hollandknighttopchef_2 There are signs that Sex and the City-themed female bonding events are on the way out. The latest evidence, witnessed firsthand by The Am Law Daily--Holland & Knight's annual women's initiative outing, which this year was held at Broadway Panhandler, a downtown Manhattan store selling discounted cooking equipment.

Last year's event unfolded at one of the many branches of Sephora, the cosmetics temple that sells a dizzying array of makeup and potions for almost every part of the human body. Perhaps befitting the gloomy economy, last night's party emphasized something more fundamental: cooking at home.

This is the third year that H&K's women's initiative has held a holiday outing to benefit Women in Need, a 25-year-old organization that runs six homeless shelters for women and children in New York City. Litigation partner Marisa Marinelli, who's volunteered at homeless shelters, says the group picked the charity because, "we wanted to make an impact right in New York City."

The "Holiday Shopping for a Cause" night was not all seriousness. There were two open bars, offering the usual libations, plus a slightly nausea-inducing mustard-orange "seasonal" drink.  (We weren't in the mood to try it, but one attendee described it as "awesomely delicious.") There also were ample platters of finger food: overly stuffed mushrooms, pigs in blankets, plump shrimps, and the like.

The evening seems to have accomplished what the firm intended: to provide an opportunity for H&K's women lawyers and their female clients to bond while at the same time channeling everyone's inner Top Chef. Event guests filled their shopping baskets with bundt pans, scone cutters, roasting pans, and mixing bowls. A group of younger associates made a beeline to a rack of retro-theme potholders and aprons featuring lipsticked homemakers in perfectly pressed, ruffled dresses. "This is just too cute," said one associate, smiling at one of the aprons.

Could all this be a sign of nostalgia for simpler times when men ruled the law firm, and women ruled the roast? Well, we won't read that much into it. Barbra Parlin, the head of the group, says she chose the location because, "I like to cook. And who doesn't like food?"

Swag Bag: W├╝sthof chef's knife and kitchen shears, H&K apron (pictured here), Anne Taintor designed tissues, measuring cup, veggie peeler, Le Creuset kitchen towel


Photo by Martin Refsal

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