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Fill the Truck this Saturday at the Garde Arts Center

The excitement of 'Dinner: Impossible' comes to the Garde Arts Center stage on Saturday, December 29 with TV celeb Robert Robert Irvine: LIVE!Irvine. The event includes a food drive to help fill the Gemma E. Moran United Way Labor Food Center's new mobile food pantry truck and a pre-show pop-up farmers market. The truck will be stationed outside of the Garde from 10 a.m. to just prior to the show's start at 8 p.m. and the community is asked to donate non-perishable food items all day to help fill the truck. All donations benefit the Gemma E. Moran United Way Labor Food Center which distributes food to 96 local feeding sites and helps feed more than 20,000 every month.

The knives will fly and the saute pans will shake, but before Robert Irvine LIVE! hits the Garde Arts Center Main Stage attendees will get a chance to experience local goods during the event's pre-show Bozrah "Pop-Up" Farmers Market at 4 p.m. The foodie fun event is sponsored by The Day, CCR Wealth Management/Mark Palmerino, Mohegan Sun, MetroCast and Dominion.

More than just a cooking demo, Robert Irvine LIVE is an interactive show that provides multiple opportunities for audience participation while witnessing the challenging nature of the TV show, "Dinner: Impossible," come to life right before your eyes.

With over 25 year in the culinary profession, Chef Robert Irvine has cooked his way through Europe, the Far East, the Caribbean and the Americas, in hotels and on the high seas. Irvine brings his experience to The Food Network as host of "Restaurant: Impossible" and has been previously seen on "Dinner: Impossible," "Worst Cooks in America" and "The Next Iron Chef."

In its second season, "Restaurant: Impossible" continues its successful run as one of the networks most popular shows where Irvine attempts to save America's most desperate restaurants from impending failure in just two days with only $10,000. Over the course of the extreme mission Irvine assess all of the restaurants facets and then overhauls their weakest spots with updates to menus, retraining staff and implementing aesthetic changes with the help of his design team before hitting the streets to tell the community about the improved restaurant.

A native of England, Irvine joined the British Royal Navy at the age of 15 and his skills in the kitchen soon came to the attention of his superiors. As part of his service for the Royal Navy, Irvine was selected to work on board the Royal Yacht Britannia where the Royal Family and their entourages regularly dined. During his time training U.S. Navy chefs as part of a guest chef program, Irvine worked in the White House kitchens and his creations were served to high-ranking government officials. During his career, he has also had the opportunity to serve 6,000 servicemen and women on a U.S. aircraft carrier and plan the menu for a celebrity-studded after-party at the Academy Awards. Irvine is author of two cookbooks, "Mission: Cook!" and "Impossible to Easy."

As part of the Chef Irvine event, United Way of Southeastern Connecticut will be running a food drive in honor of the launch of its new Moblie Pantry. The Mobile Pantry is a custom-made refrigerated truck delivering perishable food items for direct distribution to people in need. Due to the current economy, even more households are finding it increasingly difficult to put food on the table. The Mobile Pantry Program is a way to help people acquire items they may not receive from a traditional pantry as it travels to remote parts of New London County, delivering food directly to those who need it most. The program’s “no questions asked” philosophy and farmer’s market feel will allow clients a level of comfort when utilizing it.

“We are thrilled to be collaborating with our friends at the Garde Arts Center on this wonderful event featuring Chef Robert Irvine,” said Virginia L. Mason, President & CEO Of United Way of Southeastern Connecticut. “United Way is working with community partners like the Garde to advance the common good for all and provide the building blocks to a good quality of life. Part of this means providing basic human needs, and our new Mobile Pantry, along with the Gemma E. Moran United Way Labor Food Center, will reach more people in need, giving them nutritious, fresh food. Our sincere thanks to the Garde for including us in this event!”

A pre-show "pop-up" farmers market will also be held, courtesy of the Bozrah Farmers Market. The market is normally held at Maple Farm Park in Bozrah, Conn. "Pop-up" markets and farmers markets are currently on the rise in the U.S., "popping" up temporarily -- usually in one or two-day spans -- to give a new and different audience a sample of the full market and/or to help benefit a community where farmers markets are unavailable. The Pop-up Farmers Market will be held from 4-8 p.m. in the Garde lobbies.

Tickets to "Robert Irvine LIVE!" are $38 loge and orchestra, $33 rear orchestra, $30 front balcony and $25 rear balcony. Tickets are available at the Garde Box Office, 325 State St., New London, Conn. The Garde Box Office is open Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and two hours prior to the curtain on performance days. Tickets may be purchased by phone during regular box office hours at (860) 444-7373, ext. 1, or online at www.gardearts.org.