Cuisine for a cause

Bin 35 Bistro owner Annie Tow

It started out as a one-time work project. Now, five years later, interior designer Melissa Perry is organizing her third Best of Brunch fundraiser for Domestic Violence Intervention Services (DVIS).

"KKT Architects [was] hired to do the architecture and design of their shelter and transitional housing facility, as well as their new office building that just opened about a year ago," said Perry, co-chair of the event. "I was one of the designers that worked with them. Learning what they do, seeing their staff, hearing what they’re passionate about … once the project was over, I didn’t want to just leave."

DVIS provides help to individuals and families in need who have been affected by domestic violence. The Best of Brunch event raises money for the DVIS legal department, which provides information and representation in civil cases.

Currently DVIS’ legal team has 170 active cases, according to Chief Communications Officer Carissa Hon. In 2018 there were 440 applications for legal representation. Proceeds from the $100 brunch tickets will help DVIS maintain and expand the families they serve.

For the brunch, Hon said they are expecting around 400 people and so far have 19 restaurants participating, including Bramble Breakfast & Bar, All Things Cake, In the Raw, and more. Guests are asked to vote for their favorite dishes.

Bin 35 Bistro in Brookside has taken home three trophies in three years—they’re on display above the bar. Owner Annie Tow is eyeing a fourth. This year is a little different, because there are two awards: best sweet and best savory dish. But to her, that’s just twice the chance to win.

Every year, Tow brings bacon-jam deviled eggs, which is on the menu at Bin 35. The eggs won the Best of Brunch contest the first year, and for good reason. The bacon jam atop the egg is sweet and salty—and the dish explodes with flavor that leaves you wanting more. Tow said the bacon-jam eggs are popular at Best of Brunch, as well as other events they work. "People put like five and six on their plate," she said.

"I’m all about comfort foods. The deviled egg that we’ve done, the Monte Cristo—just comfort food," Tow said. The Monte Cristo is a fried ham-and-cheese sandwich slathered in strawberry jam; it took last year’s prize. Just a few months after the 2018 Best of Brunch, Tow tried something that fit right into that comfort-food philosophy and gave a jump-start to 2019’s event. "Maybe two or three months later, the chef served these bacon cheddar grits that were unbelievable," she said. "Right then I was like, this is what we’re going to do."

Perhaps the most notable change this year will be the open bar. There will be mimosas, Bloody Marys, beer, and wine to choose from. Inner Circle Vodka Bar is providing the vodka for Bloody Marys, and Perry said that’s just the start of what will make them delicious. "It’s not just a celery stick. There’s going to be bacon and all kinds of garnishments," she said.

Perry said there also will be fun gifts at affordable prices.

"They have all these different boxes from Kendra Scott with a range of jewelry. They all have different price points. Your item will be at least that minimum price, but usually it’s more," Perry said. "I’ve done it every year, and I’ve gotten an amazing ring [worth] $150 for $50. It’s a fun piece, and it’s something I probably wouldn’t have picked out just going to the store, so that’s also why it’s fun."

They will also have mystery boxes, which work similarly to the jewelry pool, with surprise prizes such as custom artwork or restaurant and boutique gift cards.

While the draw is food, fun, and fundraising, the event will also shine a light on the serious, lifesaving work done by DVIS. The hope is that attendees will come way from the event with a full stomach and a broader understanding of the services available for Tulsans dealing with the horror of domestic abuse.

In addition to legal aid, DVIS also has advocates available for people filing protective orders. "Those advocates sit with people as they fill out protective orders, answer questions … and explain the process to them and what to expect, because that can be scary—especially if you’ve already been through something scary," Hon said. DVIS also has a law enforcement liaison to help in situations where police are involved.

Hon also noted the DVIS Rapid Intervention Team: "The focus is to hold offenders accountable. They take the most violent offenders, the offenders most likely to kill somebody, and they speed up that process. They’re accepted based on the history and the level of violence."

DVIS Best of Brunch will be from 11 a.m.–1 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 26 at The Mayo Hotel, 115 W. 5th St. Tickets can be purchased at the link on the event’s Facebook page.

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