The annual Otto Tomotto fundraiser supports Victor Farmington Food Cupboard
VICTOR — Every penne counted Monday at the ninth annual Otto Tomotto’s Mama’s Birthday Fundraiser to benefit Victor Farmington Food Cupboard.
That’s because every penny raised at the wildly popular pasta party directly supported the food cupboard, headquartered a mile-and-a-half down the road.
Behind the scenes in the Otto Tomotto’s kitchen, chef-owner Tim Archetko scooped penne and stirred sauce like an athlete, in between sprints to check on smoking meat at his second restaurant a few doors away, Route 96 BBQ.
“Every year it seems like it gets more and more intense,” said Archetko. “When we started this thing 10 years ago we only did 500 dinners and we thought we were the kings of the world. Now we’re up to 2,500, and the goal this year is $20,000, which I’m hoping we’re going to exceed.”
VFFC President Dawn Rockefeller said the annual event is probably the food cupboard’s biggest fundraiser.
“It’s really growing in the community, which I think was Tim’s hope when he started this ... that it would turn into a community event,” said Rockefeller.
The food cupboard currently serves about 500 families each month, she said. And because every cent raised goes directly to VFFC, Monday’s event will make it possible to feed 3,000 to 4,000 families of four.
“Its huge to us to be able to do this,” said Rockefeller. “The generosity is… there’s no words for the generosity of this event.
“It’s Tim’s staff — they give up the time to make this happen,” she said. “And it’s Tim’s vendors that over the years have started to donate food to make it happen so it’s not everything coming out of his bottom line.”
VFFC volunteers swarmed Phoenix Mills Plaza Monday to welcome guests and direct traffic. Others gathered Sunday to make 2,500 meatballs and cut birthday cake.
The event, held each year in honor of Mama Tomotto’s birthday, also featured a wine raffle, gift card wheel, and Legends 102.7 personalities who raffled off Red Wings tickets.
Susie Loughnane was in line a full 20 minutes before the doors were open. By the time she stepped inside Otto Tomotto’s the line extended almost the full length of Phoenix Mills Plaza.
“I’m here for pasta and for the food cupboard,” said the Victor resident. “We do it every year, and I won a bottle of cabernet sauvignon!”
“I’ve been doing this for three years,” said VFFC board member Don Benowitz as he and wife Kirsten packed dinners into bags. “I just like helping people, and this is a great event.”
Why does Archetko keep re-upping each year?
“Because it’s a way to give back to the community,” he said. “What do I know how to do? I know how to make pasta. So how can I turn that into something greater?”
Chris Shriner, Archetko’s sous chef, has been on staff for the past 14 years.
“Honestly, if there’s one human being who makes this event successful it’s him 100 percent,” said Archetko. “He’s been in at 6 a.m. the past three days to do extra prep for this party.”
Mama Tomotto, AKA Sue Archetko, greeted guests at the front door as she’s done for the last nine years at her birthday fundraiser.
“I’m celebrating my birthday with our community,” she said. “And we’re raising a lot of money, I hope, for the Victor Farmington Food Cupboard. We thank all of our vendors and volunteers who participated. And I want to thank everybody for their support. We really do appreciate it.”
Rockefeller said she always hopes “that the community enjoys it and that they enjoy being part of something.”
“To me,” she said, “that’s the epitome because you spend five dollars and you’re contributing to something so much bigger.”