Distinguished chef Michael Lomonaco, this year’s honoree at the annual C-CAP benfit held Wednesday, February 16, 2011, at Pier 60, Chelsea Piers, is not only outstanding as a restaurateur. He demonstrated that he is also a strong motivational speaker as well. After receiving his C-CAP award, he gave a rousing acceptance speech outlining why C-CAP (Careers through Culinary Arts Program) plays such an important role in helping students build careers in the food industry.

In his affable manner and with his booming voice, he saluted Richard Grausman, founder of C-CAP and his wife Susan, who plays an important role in the organization, and complimented those students who have being educated in the C-CAP cooking program and gone forward into careers.

Lomonaco, whose current restaurant is Porter House New York in the Time-Warner Center at Columbus Circle, also has been known for his culinary achievements at Le Cirque, 21 Club and Windows on the World. After the destruction of that restaurant in World Trade Center disaster, Lomonaco co-founded the Windows of Hope Family Relief Fund, established to aid restaurant workers’ families.

Lomonaco was lauded by the Chair of the event, Kenneth Himmel, President and CEO of Related Urban, who worked with the honoree on the development of Porter House New York as part of the restaurant collection at the Time Warmer Center. Himmel presented the award, designed by sculptor Philip Grausman.

Master of Ceremonies for the benefit was CBS2 News Co-Anchor Maurice DuBois, who exhibited grace as well as his impressive speaking voice. Chef Chair was restaurateur Marcus Samuelsson. Vice-Chairs were Nina and Tim Zagat and Susan and Richard Grausman.

C-CAP has awarded some $31 million in scholarships since its founding in 1990, as well as donating $2.5 million worth of supplies and equipment in high schools affiliated with the C-CAP cooking programs. In addition to raising money by admissions to the benefit, funds were raised at a silent auction, including bidding on opportunities to dine at leading restaurants and to enjoy various travel packages.

Of course, for those attending, the main attraction was sampling dishes at the lineup of stations set up by contributing chefs and restaurants representing some of the finest establishments in the city, as well as drinking champagne and wine also contributed. It was unlikely that even the heartiest taster could manage to try all of what was available.

Some Examples:

Lomonaco’s Porter House New York was on hand with a dish of beef tenderloin, black truffles and Madeira with mini mac n’ cheese.

One excellent dish was the dirty rice and shrimp from Red Rooster, the Harlem restaurant of Marcus Samuelsson and Andrea Luz Bergquist.

As at previous benefits, one of the most popular attractions was Michael Tong’s Shun Lee Palace serving of Peking duck.

Benoit served crispy pied de cochon, tarter sauce. Word quickly circulated about the sardines in soar—marinated fresh sardines with onions, raisins, pine nuts and ricotta of Union Square Café. Bar Basque served ruby red shrimp pintxos. Nobu 57 offered seared scallops ume shiso. Telepan had spicy chickpea salad with faro tabbouleh.

Buddakan NYC served tuna tartare spring rolls. Gotham Bar and Grill featured goat cheese agnolotti with chantrelle mushrooms. Michael’s excelled with braised short rib, foie gras crème, truffle-armangac jus. Aretsky’s Patroon had charred tuna belly crudo with pickled vegetables. Asiate offered foie gras fondue. There were smoked seafood sausages, fingerling potatoes with mustard vinaigrette from Oceana. Dovetail presented turnip ceviche with quinoa, lime and pearl onions.

In addition to those examples—there was much more—in the dessert department Porter House New York proved popular with its combination of South Carolina coconut cake and creamy chocolate pudding with halva cream. The Modern offered a small plate assortment of petit fours, lollipops and chocolate. Sarabeth’s served banana cream pie. Daniel presented jivara chocolate mousse, espresso biscuit, aerated chocolate.

Champagne and wine was donated by The Charmer Sunbelt Group. More than 60 New York City C-CAP high school culinary students assisted the chefs at the tasting tables.

The list of participating restaurants and chefs at the event included Philip DeMaiolo, Abigail Kirsch; Jason Weiner, Almond; Bill Peet, Aretsky’s Patroon; Brandon Kida, Asiate: Yuhi Fujinaga, Bar Basque; Jonathan Waxman, Barbuto; Philippe Bertineau, Benoit; Dan Barber, Blue Hill;Yang Huang & Brian Ray, Buddakan NYC; Milton Enriquez, Compass;Tom Colicchio, craft nyc; Pastry Chef Dominque Ansel, Daniel; David Burke, David Burke Townhouse; John Fraser, Dovetail; Joseph Fortunato, Extra Virgin; Fortunato Nicotra, Felidia;Alfred Portale, Gotham Bar and Grill; Marc Murphy, Landmarc; Jonathan Benno, Lincoln; Michael White, Marea; Kyung Up Lim, Michael’s; Pastry Chef Marc Aumont, The Modern; Matt Hoyle, Nobu Fifty Seven; Ben Pollinger, Oceana; Pastry Chef Alfred Stephens, Olives NY; Kevin Lasko, Park Avenue Winter; Michael Lomonaco, Porter House New York; Pastry Chef Wayne Harley Brachman, Porter House New York; Brian O’Donohoe, Primehouse New York; Marcus Samuelsson, Red Rooster; Pastry Chef Sarabeth Levine, Sarabeth’s; Shaun Hergatt, SHO-Shaun Hergatt; Michael Tong, Shun Lee Palace; Kerry Heffernan, Southgate; Bill Telepan, Telepan and Carmen Quagliata, Union Square Café.

Past recipients of the C-CAP Honors Award include Marcus Samuelsson, Drew Nieporent, Alfred Portale, Lidia Bastianich, Thomas Keller, Charlie Palmer, Danny Meyer & Michael Romano, Daniel Boulud, Jacques Pepin, Egidiana & Sirio Maccioni, Nina & Tim Zagat, and Saul Zabar & Stanley Zabar.

Careers through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP) works with public schools across the country to prepare underserved high school students for college and career opportunities in the restaurant and hospitality industry. A national nonprofit organization founded in 1990, C-CAP manages the largest independent culinary scholarship program in the United States. C-CAP provides training and curriculum enrichment programs including: teacher training; scholarships and cooking competitions; job shadows, job training, internships, and career advising; college advising and College 101 Workshop; and product donations.

In the 2009-2010 academic year, C-CAP served 220 high school teachers in 167 public schools to enhance the education and employment opportunities of the 18,000 students enrolled in their classes. C-CAP donated $147,210 worth of supplies and equipment to the participating schools, offered college and career advising to 1,300 students, and awarded over $3 million in scholarships. C-CAP operates programs in seven locations: New York; Los Angeles; Chicago; Philadelphia; Hampton Roads, VA; Prince George’s County, Maryland; and statewide in Arizona. For more information about C-CAP, visit www.ccapinc.org.

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