So many galas find guests with a drink in their hand and well, nothing to do except perfect the art of small talk.The Lewis School turned the typical cocktail hour/ dinner combo on its head on Friday, February 25, with a tasting event titled “The Art of American Artisan Cheese,” held at a private home on Hodge Road.

The 70 guests were free to roam throughout the spacious first floor and experience wine and cheese pairings, with wines bottled from sustainable vineyards and local organic artisan cheeses. They were also challenged to an “aroma palate challenge,” hosted by Megan Gunning — a former Miss Maryland, graduate of the University of Vermont’s Institute for Artisan Cheese, and host of New Jersey Network’s “NJ Fresh” — in which participants had to describe and identify various aromas.

The concept of the event started with Robert Martinez, a local cheese maker with 10 years of experience, and the Lewis School’s director of strategic planning. Like Gunning, he is a graduate of the University of Vermont’s Institute for Artisan Cheese. Assisting Martinez at the event was 10-year-old Kaley Gilmore, one of New Jersey’s youngest cheese makers.

Doug Salthouse, a Hopewell Township resident and a wine curator and distributor with a degree in biochemistry, oversaw the wine and cheese pairings.

The Lewis School of Princeton and the Lewis Clinic for Educational Therapy was founded in 1973 at a time when many educators flatly denied the existence of dyslexia or failed to recognize language-based learning difficulties. Today the Lewis School has a kindergarten through college prep program that meets the needs of a student body of 200 students, some of whom come from as far away as Beijing, Texas, and Montreal. The funds raised from the event will benefit the Lewis School’s Annual Fund.

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