2010 Women's Hall of FameAbigail Kirsch was among the many people who were honored at the annual Westchester County Women's Hall of Fame event.   

Anyone with a penchant for such upscale culinary creations as chocolate-frambois ganache and ginger scallion crab cakes likely knows the name Abigail Kirsch. Add to that the fact that the award-winning chef and author is also widely recognized for her passion for helping others follow in her footsteps, and she makes the perfect inductee into the Westchester County Women's Hall of Fame.

She was honored March 26 at the annual awards luncheon at the Hilton at Rye Town in Rye Brook. The 26th annual event was hosted by the Westchester County Office for Women in celebration of National Women's History Month. She was also presented with an award and proclamation by County Executive Robert P. Astorino.

County Executive Robert P. Astorino presents award to Abigail KirschThe honoree line-up included two posthumous winners -- former New Castle Supervisor Marion Sinek and educator and advocate Dr. Mary Ann Quaranta -- as well as 67 high-achieving students accepting college scholarships. The $228,000 being distributed is more than ever before -- thanks to the generosity of corporate sponsors, private foundations and individuals. 2010 Award Recipients

Recipients of the Hall of Fame award are chosen on the basis of their work to improve women's lives in significant and enduring ways, as well as on their work as pioneers in a particular field. Past Hall of Fame winners have included philanthropist Patricia Lanza, women's clothing designer Eileen Fisher, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, (when she was Senator Clinton) Rep. Nita Lowey, day care advocate Sally Ziegler, County Legislator Lois Bronz, and the late Sen. Mary Goodhue.

Kirsch has not only broken new ground with her own accomplishments as a chef and author, but helped pave the way for other women to start their own careers. The founder of Abigail Kirsch Catering Relationships and author of three cookbooks, she is also a dedicated role model and mentor to many women.

Kirsch founded Abigail Kirsch Catering Relationships in 1975 following an 11-year stint as owner, chef and instructor of the Abigail Kirsch School of Cookery in Chappaqua. Headquartered at Tappan Hill in Tarrytown, the company has venues at the New York Botanical Garden, The Lighthouse and Pier Sixty at Chelsea Piers in Manhattan, Stage Six at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and LIFE in Westchester.

As the recipient of culinary certificates from Cordon Bleu in Paris and the Culinary Institute of America, and many other awards, she sets high standards for achievement and service. She has been a Trustee of the Culinary Institute of America since 1987 and served as president of Les Dames d'Escoffier International, an organization of high-achieving women in the culinary fields.

A strong advocate of education, she established the Abigail Kirsch Scholarship for students enrolled in Westchester Community College's Foods and Nutrition program. She chairs the Scholarship Committee of Les Dames d'Escoffier, for which she also created the Abigail Scholarship that enables metropolitan area women to further their culinary education.

Kirsch created AK Cares, a program to inspire all AK associates to participate in community service. AK Cares has assisted such Westchester and metropolitan area organizations as: Back to School Clothes for Kids, Bikes for Kids, the Child Care Council, Breast Cancer Walk, the Children's Aid Society and an annual blood drive. The company also plays a leading role in supporting the Food Bank for Westchester.

To help local students begin their food service careers, the company sponsors an extern program with the Culinary Institute of America and enables Westchester Community College and Monroe College students, as well as BOCES Culinary Vocational Program students, to gain experience in Tappan Hill's kitchen. Kirsch resides with her husband, Robert, in Pound Ridge, and is the mother of four grown children and grandmother of nine. Abigail Kirsch's acceptance remarks

Posthumous awardee Mary Ann Quaranta has been a passionate advocate for women's education and leadership positions her entire life. She served as a dean at Fordham University's Graduate School of Social Service and provost of Marymount College in Tarrytown. In addition to being the force behind Fordham establishing a Westchester branch, Quaranta developed programs to expand opportunities for working women and winning a federal grant to bring more Hispanic women into the field of social work. Remarks of Mary Beth Morrissey, daughter of Dr. Mary Ann Quaranta

Marion Sinek was very active in public affairs and served in various roles in the League of Women Voters, including credentialed NGO representative to the UN, president of the League of NY State, and vice president of the National League. During this period, she worked tirelessly in support of issues of particular interest to women such as the Equal Rights Amendment. She served eight years as a New Castle Town Board member and was town supervisor from 2000-2004. After retiring from elected office, Marion advised Senator Hillary Clinton on election law issues and remained active in Democratic politics. Remarks of Nicole Arnaboldi, daughter of Marion Sinek

Out of the 67 scholarships presented this year, 27 of them will go to students enrolled in the Her Honor mentoring program founded by Judge Judy Sheindlin, coordinated by her daughter Nicole Sheindlin, supported by the Lanza Family Foundation, and administered by the Westchester County Office for Women. Her Honor mentees are from three high schools: Mamaroneck, Mount Vernon, and White Plains.

A few changes are on their way this year. For the first time, the Avon Foundation for Women will be providing a scholarship for a domestic violence survivor. And in honor of Kirsch, her friend Betty Himmel is donating funds for a new scholarship to be presented in 2011: The Abigail Kirsch Scholarship for Culinary Arts. Also, in honor of retired Westchester County legislator Lois Bronz, Verizon has renamed one of its scholarships the Lois Bronz Social Justice Award.

Proceeds from the luncheon will benefit the Women's Research and Education Fund which funds programs for women and girls. The luncheon is sponsored by the Avon Foundation for Women, Avon Products, Inc., Con Edison, EILEEN FISHER, Fujifilm USA Inc., Lanza Family Foundation, MasterCard, Merrill Lynch, Stock Family LLC, Verizon, Visiting Nurse Services in Westchester Inc. and the Westchester Women's Bar Association Foundation.