When Tim Andrews does a party he does it right — valet parking, food for days, and even kleig lights lighting up the night sky in front of his Snowden Lane home. The occasion on Saturday, February 28, was a break from the doom and gloom of the recession. Back in 2007 Andrews, an Arts Council of Princeton board member and president and CEO of the Advertising Specialty Institute, a trade publishing and trade show company that focuses on the marketing and promotional products industry, located just outside Philly, bid on one of three dinners at the silent auction of Dining by Design, the Arts Council’s annual fundraiser. Judy and Bill Scheide, two of Princeton’s premier arts patrons, had donated three “dream dinners” to the auction, each one prepared by one of their three personal chefs. Andrews bid on — and won — cocktails and hors d’oeuvres for 45 prepared by Julia Flesch of Joss and Jules Catering, the Scheide’s special events caterer.

When Andrews finally got around to setting a date for the do, his guest list grew to 55. The party theme? — giving his guests a breather from all the bad economic news. He says he saw the party as “a time for us to pause. There’s so much we can’t control but one thing we can control is our attitude. I saw the party as a time for old and new friends to get together to take a break from the headlines, and to think about friendships — and the arts. The buzz was people were happy to take a night off and not have to worry.”

Guests swarmed the whole first floor of the house, from the wine tasting bar at one end to the sushi and seafood spread set up in the open kitchen/great room at the other end, where the Audrey Welber trio dished up fabulous background music with woodwinds, bass, and piano. The dining room table groaned with cheeses and charcuterie. But the hands down hit of the night were the one-bite-of-heaven petit cupcakes, which Flesch says come from her best-kept secret — Delight’s Gourmet at the Trenton Farmers Market, owned by the Nigerian-born ex-New Yorker Clemence Adegbite; his associate, Nikoya Lightbourne, bakes the cupcakes — and the homemade ice cream sandwiches (the ultimate retro dessert). The waiters couldn’t get five paces out of the kitchen before their platters were wiped clean.

To cap off the evening, Andrews, who worked for Dow Jones for 16 years running their interactive business publishing division before joining the Advertising Specialty Institute six years ago, broke out some of his stash of 100-year-old madeira. Apparently, the owner of ASI was auctioning some wine out of his cellar a couple years ago in New York and asked Andrews if he wanted to bid on anything. Andrews asked him to pick out the madeira he thought he should buy, and it turned out to be a case originally from the cellar of Czar Nicholas II, bottled in 1909. But don’t despair if you weren’t at the party — Andrews has donated one bottle to the silent auction for the Arts Council of Princeton’s other annual fundraiser, Pinot to Picasso, set for Friday, April 24. You can bid on it there.

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