Talk about a win-win: Our attending one of the most delicious (and deliciously fun!) parties of the year last night helped to raise more than $870,000 to prepare and deliver nutritious meals to New York’s homebound elderly.
Dozens of renowned chefs gathered at Rockefeller Center for the 30th Annual Chefs’ Tribute to Citymeals-on-Wheels. Dubbed #Cheftopia, this landmark Big 3-0 anniversary honored founding chefs Larry Forgione and Jonathan Waxman, who first conceived of the event as a birthday party for James Beard. With their fellow celebrated chefs, the pair toasted the past while anticipating the future by creating dishes inspired by tomorrow’s food trends — with a notable and warmly welcomed offering of many delicious, sustainable, plant-based dishes.
This year’s participating chefs included a range of old timers and new faces, many of whom we relished speaking with throughout the course of the evening: Matthew Accarrino, Jarett Appell & Stefanie Morgado, Sebastien Archambault, Jimmy Bannos, Jr. (of Chicago’s Purple Pig, and who was last month named the 2015 James Beard Rising Star Chef), Eric Basulto, Octavio Becerra (of NYC’s STATE Grill & Bar, whose Early Summer Tartine featured some of the first garlic snapes of the year from yesterday morning’s Union Square Greenmarket), Matteo Bergamini, Daniel Boulud & Aaron Bludorn (of NYC’s Cafe Boulud), Antonio Prontelli & Juan Branez, Jonathan Benno & Richard Capizzi, Scott Conant, Greg Denton & Gabrielle Quiñónez Denton (of Portland’s Ox, which served another of our favorite dishes of the night: eggplant “sausage”), Richard Diamonte, Larry Forgione, Marc Forgione, Yuhi Fujinaga & Michael Gabriel, Markus Glocker (of NYC’s Batard, which last month won the 2015 James Beard Foundation Award for Best New Restaurant), Craig Koketsu, Eli Kulp (of Philadelphia’s Fork, which wowed us with its Sunflower Risotto with Shaved Button Mushrooms), Barbara Lynch, Nobu Matsuhisa, Masaharu Morimoto (whose Morimoto team couldn’t have been nicer about our request for his wonderful cold spicy ramen noodles without pork), Rob Newton, Nancy Oakes, Charlie Palmer, Daniel Patterson (of San Francisco’s Coi, who last month created our favorite dish at the 2015 James Beard Awards), Francois Payard (of NYC’s Payard Patisserie, who thrilled the macaron fans in attendance), Alfred Portale (who served an exquisite Organic Heirloom Vegetable Ceviche), Stephan Pyles, Thomas Raquel, Jimmy Schmidt, Joachim Splichal, Cara Stadler, Bill Telepan (of NYC’s Telepan, who served us our first great taste of the night: Carrot Pasta with Brown Butter and Sunflower Seeds), Jacques Torres (who thrilled the chocolate fans in attendance), Silvana Vivoli, Jean-Georges Vongerichten (who won our, and many others’, votes for best dish of the night with his fresh pea risotto), Jonathan Waxman, and Bill Yosses (the former White House pastry chef).
Beverage chair Audrey Saunders (who owns the Pegu Club) and wine chair Daniel Johnnes (wine director of Daniel Boulud’s Dinex Group) arranged for an array of cocktails and wine to complement the chefs’ dishes, not to mention toast the end of a wonderful evening, as we were happy to have the great pleasure of doing with Audrey Saunders (aka Mrs. Robert Hess) herself shortly before making our way home.