Tag Archives: City Harvest

City Harvest Bid Against Hunger 2013

City Harvest TruckA City Harvest food collection truck

Last week, I attended one of New York’s premier fundraising events, City Harvest‘s “Bid Against Hunger,” a night where the culinary community comes together to raise money to feed its city’s citizens.  Seventy chefs provided tastings of specially-made dishes, beverages flowed, and wallets and pocketbooks opened to generate funds that will have a wide-reaching impact on getting much-needed food to people who might otherwise go hungry.  The moneys raised through the live and silent auction will go towards supporting the organization’s programs throughout the year, initiatives that help support 400 community food programs and to provide resources to more than one million New Yorkers a year.

Cronuts Auction - Nicholas Lowry, Questlove, & Dominique AnselQuestlove and Dominique Ansel auction Cronuts

After the initial walk-around tastings portion of the evening, everyone gathered around for the live auction.  I haven’t jumped on the Cronut bandwagon as yet.  Truthfully, I’ve been avoiding this food fad.  After this event, however, I might have to become a fan.  First to take the stage were Questlove and Dominique Ansel with an extra-special, off-program, unique additional item for guests to bid on that evening.  One dozen, freshly-baked, hand-delivered Cronuts.  The winning bid?  $14,000.  That’s quite a few people being fed from just one box of sweet treats.

The Auction - Nicholas Lowry, Aldo Sohm & Eric RipertThe Auction – Nicholas Lowry, Aldo Sohm & Eric Ripert

Other prizes for the auction featured special dinners cooked by top NYC chefs, including the top-bid item “C’est Magnifique.”  This was also the highest-bid item during last year’s auction as well.  A wine class for 15 people hosted by Aldo Sohm and Jay McInerney plus dinner for two a Le Bernardin prepared by Chef Eric Ripert.  It’s the kind of one-off experience that makes me wish I’d saved all of my pennies from every job I had ever had so that I could also have the chance to compete for it.  The winning bid for that was $42,000, enough to keep many bellies from growling from hunger.

The Auction - Star Chefs package - Amanda Freitag & Marc MurphyThe Auction – Star Chefs package – Amanda Freitag & Marc Murphy

The other live auction items were no less splendid or spectacular either.  How would you like to take a private sushi-making class for four at Morimoto followed by dinner personally prepared by the chef himself?  Or maybe take a tour of Harlem with Chef Marcus Samuelsson with dinner at Ginny’s Supper Club aftwards?  Chopped Chefs Marc Murphy and Amanda Freitag also teamed up to offer a meal prepared together by them complete with special wine pairings selected by Landmarc’s Beverage Director David Lombardo.

Picholine - Gorgonzola Semi-freddo w Pear, Port-red Wine Gel, Walnut CrumbPicholine – Gorgonzola “Semi-freddo” with Pear, Port-red Wine Gell, Walnut Crumb

In addition to the auction lots, everyone was gathered this evening to enjoy the food, and there were some amazing dishes to sample.  When I arrived there, I bumped into Rhonda Kave of Roni-Sue’s Chocolates (who had opened up a new store on the Lower East Side just the week prior).  She advised me to start with dessert first, which I was more than happy to do.  One dramatic, stand-out dish was the Gorgonzola “Semi-freddo” with Pear, Port-red Wine Gel, and Walnut Crumb offered by Picholine.  The “semi-freddo” was made on-site using liquid nitrogen and mixed up to order (see the slideshow below for a step-by-step plating).  It was a bit like eating the crunchy Astronaut Ice Cream of our childhood, for those who remember that concoction with a funky, blue cheesy backnote, and made an interesting contrast to the fruit and sauce.

Landmarc - Creamy Grits with Charred Kale & Sweet Italian SausageLandmarc – Creamy Grits with Charred Kale & Sweet Italian Sausage

On the savory side, there was so much amazing food to taste that it is really hard for me to pick a favorite.  I am going to give a special nod, however, to the folks with whom I work on a daily basis and highlight the Grits with Charred Kale and Sweet Italian Sausage that the team at Landmarc put together.  By way of full disclosure, I work with the events group for this company, doing culinary production, so I had a kitchen-eye view of the evolution of this dish.  I even had a hand in chopping up the cooked kale and getting it packed and ready to go for the evening.  Truthfully, I was a little bit skeptical when I first heard about it, but after trying that first bite, all hesitation melted away.  The creamy grits worked perfectly with the smokiness of the kale and that sweet meatiness of the sausage.  My only complaint is that I wanted more parmesan to sprinkle on top of it as the nutty, salty addition of the cheese really brought it all to an even more delicious level.  I enjoyed this plate so much that I was hoping maybe we’d get the leftovers for family meal at work the next day, but I’ll have to settle for re-creating it at home.

To see more of the evening’s activities and lots of plates of wonderful food and refreshing beverages, click on the slideshow above.  It was truly a remarkable event with a special mission of feeding not just those of us in the room, but using the power of food to assist others in our community to be able to feed themselves.  For more information about City Harvest, please visit their website.

Buon appetito!

Thank you very much to Rubenstein Public Relations for arranging for me to have a press pass to attend this event.

City Harvest Bid Against Hunger 2012

City Harvest DecalCity Harvest Bid Against Hunger 2012

On Tuesday night, I had the pleasure of attending City Harvest‘s 18th annual Bid Against Hunger, an auction event to raise money for its programs and to feed the many New Yorkers who go hungry each day.  Many acclaimed chefs donated their time and culinary talents to feeding the folks who attended, and several of them also donated incredible lots on which the event’s attendees could bid.  This was the first time I’ve been at this gathering, and it was awe-inspiring to see the level of support that this organization has not just in the chef community but also from the people who put their hands in their pockets to help out even more by purchasing some amazing items and experiences.

A Taste of Italy donated by Michael White

Aside from enjoying terrific small plates put together by New York City’s notable chefs, the other goal of the evening was raising funds.  Auctioneer Nicholas D. Lowry deftly guided the proceedings, keeping the bidding moving smoothly and encouraging everyone to dig a little bit deeper into his/her pockets by giving the numbers on how many more hungry NYC-ers could be fed by adding just a few more dollars to their donations.  With prizes like A Taste of Italy hosted by Michael White, featuring a four-course dinner for 12 people cooked in your home, it was difficult for me not to get caught up in the excitement of the auction, too.

Auctioneer Nicholas D. Lowry with Chef Eric RipertAldo Sohm

The highest bid of the evening went for an auction package that I think more than a few of my friends and I would readily enjoy, although I don’t know if we could have scraped together the funds to buy it.  The last live auction item of the event was a private wine class for 15 with the Chief Sommelier of Le Bernardin, Aldo Sohm, including his guidance in building one’s own personal wine collection, and then a kitchen tour of the restaurant along with a private dinner for two with Chef Eric Ripert.  It’s no surprise that this was a highly sought-after experience, which, in the end, went for $50,000, plenty to help feed many hungry souls.  Aside from the live and the silent auctions, the other main feature of this event was the food.

Slideshow of the evening’s edibles (click “Show Info” in fullscreen view for details)

With more than 70 chefs participating, this was really one of the premier tastings that I’ve been to in the city.  As you can see, scrolling through the slideshow, there were plenty of dishes to sample, highlighting the best of New York’s restaurants as well as showcasing the wide array of cuisines that we get to enjoy in the city.  Among the fantastic-tasting items that I ate were the luscious Smoked Salmon & Caviar Cake from Caviarteria,  the smokey-sweet Duck Pastrami plate from New Leaf Restaurant & Bar (this was a top-pick by several people), and I could have eaten the whole hotel pan full of the rich, creamy, heartwarming Polenta with Short Ribs and Gremolata by L’Apicio.  For dessert, I noshed on the always-incredible Macarons by François Payard (so sorry to miss his masterclass during New York City Wine & Food Festival), a scoop of refreshing Allspice Gelato by Il Laboratorio del Gelato, and my new favorite sweet the Pear Palatschinken with Caramel Sauce by Wallsé.

A familiar sight – City Harvest‘s truck

I’ve worked a few events where at the end of the evening, unused food is gathered up to donate to City Harvest, and I feel as though many organizations have them in mind when wrapping up parties, so that food is not wasted and that as much as can be used is collected to be re-distributed insofar as is possible.  It was really interesting to see how a large fundraising event like this one takes place and how the culinary community in the city chips in to lend its talents to feeding those who need assistance the most.  I left the evening feeling fuller inside not just from all of the amazing dishes that I ate, but also from the feeling that there is a lot of good happening to feed others around us as well.

Addendum: The Live Auction raised a total of $196,000, which will enable City Harvest to feed 2,000 New Yorkers for a year.  The Silent Auction brought in another $60,000.  Their next fundraising event will be the annual “An Evening of Practical Magic,” to be held in April 2013.

Buon appetito!

Thank you very much to Rubenstein Public Relations for arranging for me to have a press pass to attend this event.

The Brooklyn Local to benefit City Harvest

The Brooklyn Local sign

Hunger is still a big issue in New York and in the United States in general, even though we are a prosperous country with so many resources to draw upon.  City Harvest is one of the organizations in this city who strive to address this need and to try to get food to the people who need it the most.  Yesterday, in Brooklyn Bridge Park under azure skies, they held their second annual Brooklyn Local festival, showcasing food artisans, restaurants, and beverage purveyors from the borough.

Brooklyn Bridge – Brooklyn side

The glorious fall weather contributed to the lively, bright atmosphere.  In some ways it felt very much like a large, small town community fundraiser with the vendors stopping by each others’ stands to chat, swap samples, and just to catch up on the latest news.  Tables were loaded with samples as well as prepared dishes to eat there and packaged food products to take home to enjoy later.  I even saw Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz touring the market at one point during the afternoon.  I had so much fun just going around and talking to the vendors and nibbling on their wares, saying hello to folks whom I know from the local food scene.

Hotdogs with mustard by Brooklyn Cured

It’s hard to pick the highlights of this event, but there were a few things that I’d definitely go back and eat again if we had the chance to re-run the day.  Scott Bridi of Brooklyn Cured cooked up one of his hotdogs with his housemade mustard for me to enjoy.  I’m not normally a hotdog fan, not even at a baseball game, but if all of them were this delicious, I could be converted to liking them.  What I am a big fan of, however, is steamed buns, especially if they are as tasty and satisfyingly full of flavor as the ones that Bite Size Kitchen makes.  I missed out on their pork belly ones, which seemed to sell out in a flash, but I did get one of the hearty braised duck and one of the fragrant chicken curry.

Gluten-free bread by Free Bread Inc.

Another terrific-tasting item that I discovered yesterday was Free Bread Inc.‘s creations.  Karen Freer has a line of gluten-free croutons, too, that will also be available online as well as a recipe for stuffing on the back of the bag, to help you get ready to celebrate the upcoming holidays.  One of her soft, pillowy, cheddar-jalapeno rolls, the Jalaa, came home with me as today’s breakfast.  As a delicious treat, I picked up the The Blue-berry from the lovely ladies at The Jam Stand to have on hand.  Summer might be over, but this berry-licious, bourbon-tinged jam will let me hang onto some of its flavors for a while to come.

Spoonable Caramel products display

It wouldn’t have been possible for me to leave this market without a few desserts to take away, in addition to all the great things that I sampled when I was there.  I fed my Robicelli’s fix with a whoopie pie and a brownie.  Liddabit Sweets might have my new favorite candy, their Apricot-Chili Caramel.  Sweet with a nice kick of heat that just makes you keep wanting to eat more and more of them.  I also picked up a jar of Spoonable Caramel‘s lightly-perfumed, luscious Lavender Caramel.  All of Michelle Lewis’ caramel varieties are smooth and rich with a terrific balance of sweetness, dairy, and flavorings.  When she asked me how I’d eaten the jar of the fantastic salty-sweet Brooklyn Butterscotch that I’d obtained the last time I saw her, I sheepishly said, “With a spoon, dipped into the jar, and then put in my mouth.”  “That’s the best way,” she validated.

Pink Limeade Paleta from La Newyorkina

The Brooklyn Local put on by City Harvest was a thoroughly enjoyable event that I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for next year, too.   It was so nice to see the support in the local food community for this organization.  Even today, on Twitter and in person, folks I encountered were talking about it, exchanging greetings with the food vendors whom they met and commenting on all the great things that they had to eat there, always a good indication of a great gathering.  There were so many fantastic food folks there that I couldn’t fit them all into just one post so I put together a little slideshow of yesterday’s happenings, including plenty of pictures of lots of foodstuffs.

Buon appetito!

Thank you very much to Rubenstein Public Relations for arranging for me to have a press pass to attend this event.