JOLIET – Guy Turi, owner of Barolo’s in Joliet, won’t share.
The formula for his signature Sangria, that is.
Turi will, however, be sharing plenty of the beverage Tuesday during his Sangria Summer Party fundraiser at his restaurant, to benefit the nonprofit Adopt-A-Village, Guatemala.
Although Turi has not yet finalized the menu, he promises it will include a variety of meats and pastas, served in a casual style. This is not a black-tie affair.
“I want people to mingle with each other,” he said.
Many years ago, Turi began sponsoring a child in Guatemala through World Vision, said his wife, Melissa Turi, which is how he learned about the plight of children in extremely poor areas and became determined to do more.
So Guy and Melissa adopted a little girl from Guatemala – Ana Christina, now 7 – who joined their sons Gaetano, 16, and Anthony, 10, as well their dog, Winnie. For Guy, it was still not enough.
Guy Turi is now “stepping up to the plate,” Melissa said, with the fundraiser.
“I’m just struck by the poverty of these little kids, living on the streets and eating garbage,” Guy said. “I can’t physically go there and build schools, so this is my way of helping.”
At the heart of the celebration will be Guy’s sangria, which he began making about six years ago and has since become a popular item at Barolo’s. People actually buy extra bottles so they can enjoy it at home, he said.
“I had tasted commercial sangrias, and the flavor just wasn’t there,” Guy said. “I knew I could do better than the store-bought.”
While Guy wouldn’t dream of parting with his recipe, he did share this: He uses only natural products in his Sangria and that he macerates the wine in his special mix of fruits, herbs and spices for at least a week.
How much Guy makes in a season is anyone’s guess. “We make it continuously,” Guy said.
Through AAVG and from visiting Guatemala when they were adopting their daughter, Melissa learned that many children are living on the streets before they reach adolescence. Poor families fortunate enough to stay together live in shacks and subsist on tortillas from corn they hand-grind and bake in an oven that’s little more than a hole.
“The fortunate ones are able to secure some beans,” Melissa said.
Melissa said that in the 25 years that the AAVG founder has been running the grassroots organization, she has established an education foundation, sponsorships and ways to help the people become more self-sufficient.
“[The founder] doesn’t just give them money,” Melissa said. “She gets them seeds and helps them with gardening and greenhouses, where she actually teaches them how to sustain themselves.”
In addition to Guy’s sangria and the Mediterranean buffet, the event will feature some unique raffle items, Melissa said. One is a chocolate basket, with two $50 tickets to next year’s Shorewood HUGS chocolate ball, donated by the nonprofit Shorewood HUGS.
Another will contain a bottle of wine, a variety of pasta and other foodstuffs, Melissa said. Authentic Guatemalan “worry dolls” will be sold for $5 each.
Neither Guy nor Melissa has set a fundraising goal for this event.
“It’s whatever people will generously donate,” Guy said.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Summer Sangria Party
WHEN: 6 p.m. Aug. 5
WHERE: Barolo Restaurant, 2765 Black Road, Joliet
TICKETS: $25 in advance or at the door. Reservations requested.