Perhaps Richard Parsons, former Chairman and CEO of Time Warner and co-honoree with Executive Chef and Harlem Restaurateur Alexander Smalls of The Cecil and Minton’s, said it best in his acceptance remarks, “This is a new moment of doing good and eating well.”
The occasion on March 3, 2015, was the 25th anniversary benefit for Careers through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP), which teaches cooking to high school students in New York and other cities and provides scholarships for students, often disadvantaged, and assists them to find careers in the food industry. C-CAP reported that the benefit had raised more than one million dollars to aid in its work. Parsons and Smalls were honored for their achievements and contributions to the culinary industry as well as for their commitment to diversity in the kitchen.
In addition to celebrating the honorees, the gala at Pier 60, Chelsea Piers, afforded an opportunity for guests to sample the abundance of dishes by 43 chefs of some of the finest restaurants in New York, with more than 60 C-CAP high school culinary students cooking alongside them. There were five C-CAP alumni hosting tables for their restaurants, including Kelvin Fernandez of La Marina, Cesar Gutierrez of Lexington Brass, Sean Quinn of Chadwick’s, Veronica Rivera of Restaurant Marc Forgione, Thiago Silva of Catch and Mame Sow of Minton’s.
Take it from one who did the sampling, the array of choices was dazzling and mouth-watering. Michael Lomonaco and Wayne Harley Brachman of Porter House New York served Prime Rib au Jus; Michael Tong of Shun Lee Place served Peking Duck; Yuhi Fujinaga of Sea Grill served a delicious “CAN build your own” Chirashi Sushi; Dale Talde of Talde scored with Pretzel Pork and Chive Dumplings served with spicy tahini mustard; William Telepan of Telepan, a favorite of mine, impressed with house made kielbasa with sauerkraut and apple compote.
I also enjoyed the braised Red Wattle Pork, with sunflower hummus, apple and fennel chutney, sourdough naan, curried sunflower bark and fresh herbs from Michael Poiarkoff of Vinegar Hill House. Manuel Trevino of The Wayfarer served Cured Salmon, with cucumber and jalapeno apple vinaigrette. Sirio Maccioni and Chef Raphael Francois of Le Cirque won over taste buds with Blue Crab Simplisse. Matt Hoyle of Nobu 57 served Nobu Umani Wings. Ben Pollinger of Oceana tantalized with Venetian-style Alaskan Weathervane Scallop with pignoli, raisins and olives.
That’s just a sampling. The trick was to leave room for dessert, such as those that I enjoyed, among them the Porter House New York's Chocolate Pudding with halvah cream. One could thank Sarabeth Levine of Sarabeth’s for Banana Cream Trifle; Veronica Rivera of restaurant Marc Forgione for Meyer lemon cheesecake and Sunchar Raymond of Union Square Cafe for the Lemon mascarpone cheesecake with fennel seed sable, blood oranges and kumquat confit. You get the idea.
(Note: a complete list of participating chefs and restaurants and the food served appears at the end of this report.)
Parsons and Smalls are partners in the Harlem restaurants Minton's and The Cecil, which was recently named Best New Restaurant in America by Esquire Magazine. Parsons is the Senior Advisor of Providence Equity and Chairman of the boards of the Apollo Theater and the Jazz Foundation of America. The Cecil and Minton’s were inspired by Smalls's travel and study of the African diaspora, resulting in a global adventure in tastes and flavors as diverse as the Harlem community in which they reside.
As this year’s honorees, Parsons and Smalls received the C-CAP Honors Award. Past recipients have included: Daniel Boulud, Marcus Samuelsson, Lidia Bastianich, Thomas Keller, Charlie Palmer, Danny Meyer and Michael Romano, Alfred Portale, Jacques Pepin, Michael White, Tony May, Michael McCarty, Michael Lomonaco, Drew Nieporent, Egidian and Sirio Maccioni, Nina and Tim Zagat and Saul Zabar and Stanley Zabar.
The co-chairs for this year's event were Vincent Mai, Chairman and CEO of Cranemere, LLC and Alberto Cribiore, Vice Chairman of Citigroup. The Vice Chairs were Mark Weiss and Susan and Richard Grausman, and the Chef Chair was Marcus Samuelsson. CBS2 NY News anchorman Maurice DuBois was Master of Ceremonies. The festivities included a silent auction and a live auction run by Jamie Ritchie, CEO and President of Sotheby’s Wine.
“We are thrilled to honor Dick and Alexander for their remarkable achievements and contributions to the culinary industry and their commitment to culinary innovation,” said Richard Grausman, C-CAP’s Founder and Chairman in an advance announcement of the event. “I never dreamed that my idea in 1990 to teach French cooking in twelve New York City public schools would become what it is today. We now have thousands of C-CAP alumni across the globe demonstrating the true potential in all of us and impacting the lives of a whole new generation of chefs. I’m so proud of each and every one of our students -- they continue to impress me every day.”
C-CAP President Susan Robbins observed in the pre-event announcement: “C-CAP is celebrating 25 years of transforming lives through the culinary arts and this benefit is critical in supporting our mission of providing scholarships, education and career opportunities to at-risk youth interested in pursuing careers in the restaurant and foodservice industry. This milestone anniversary is marked by C-CAP’s dedication and commitment to helping thousands of qualified students across the country, from culinary education in high schools to career placement assistance upon graduation. We are so proud to note that we have awarded over $43 million in scholarships and will continue to nurture the next generation of star chefs.”
More information about C-CAP is available at: 212-974-7111 or by visiting www.ccapinc.org.
The list of participating chefs and restaurants and the food served is as follows:
Philip DeMaiolo, Abigail Kirsch--Duo of custards served in egg shells: cauliflower custard with house cured bacon and saffron foam and classic crème brûlée with a pistachio brittle.
Jason Weiner and Alex Nieto, Almond--Moroccan style lamb meatballs with salsa verde and ricotta salata.
Michael White and Alina Nartell, AltaMarea Group-- Hazelnut Paris-Brest.
Christian Pratsch,Asiate--Truffled Yukon gold potato.
Jonathan Waxman, Barbuto--Farro salad with fennel, olive, Meyer lemon and almond.
Markus Glocker, Bâtard--Coffee and milk “Kardinal.”
Philippe Bertineau, Benoit--Warm egg custard, green asparagus, sea urchin.
Bryce Shuman, Betony--Beets, horseradish, goat’s milk.
Dan Barber, Blue Hill New York and Blue Hill at Stone Barns--Coppa with farm eggs and squash.
Thiago Silva, Catch--“Hit me” cake.
Alexander Smalls and JJ Johnson, The Cecil—Curry crusted cod, kimchi rice porridge, guanciale, fish sauce caramel.
Sean Quinn, Chadwick’s—White water mussels with salami crumbs.
Brandon Kida, Clement—Saffron chirashi with Long Island fluke, kombu and trout roe.
Daniel Boulud, Daniel—Pheasant terrine.
Rich Torrisi, Dirty French—Chicken and Crepes.
Ivy Stark, Dos Caminos—Plantain Empanadas.
John Fraser, Dovetail—Fuji apples, cashews, cardamom.
Joseph Fortunato, Extra Virgin—Escabeche.
Fortunato Nicotra, Felidia—Tuna Semi Carpaccio.
Shaun Hergatt, Juni—Charred squash, smoked trout, maple.
Kelvin Fernandez and Alejandro Contreras, La Marina—Crispy arepa braised beef short rib, lime scented sour cream, creamy avocado, micro cilantro.
Sirio Maccioni and Raphael Francois, Le Cirque—Blue Crab Simplisse.
Cesar Gutierrez, Lexington Brass—Beet cured salmon ceviche, pickled mango puree, black sushi rice chip, vadouvon crumble.
Maria Loi, Loi Estiatorio—Solomos Marinatos-Salmon tartare with chives, shallots, lemon, and horseradish with yogurt-dill sauce in a phyllo cup.
Nick Anderer, Mailiano—Cured Beef Tongue, parmiagian, mustard and arugula.
Richard Sandoval and Jose Luis Flores, Maya—Tlayuda Adobo shrimp, crispy tortilla, spicy bean purée chopped lettuce, pico de gallo, cotija cheese, crema.
Kyle Knall, Maysville—Charcoal Grilled Sweet Potato.
Kyung Up Lim, Michael’s—Duck Confit tacos.
Mame Sow, Minton’s—Sweet potato Crème Brûlée, Sweet tea molasses, pickled raisins, candied pecans.
Matt Hoyle, Nobu 57—Nobu Umami wings.
Ben Pollinger, Oceana—Venetian-style Alaskan Weathervane Scallop with pignoli, raisins and olives.
Michael Lomonaco and Wayne Harley Brachman, Porter House New York—Prime Rib au Jus, and Chocolate Pudding with halvah cream.
Marcus Samuelsson, Red Rooster—Chicken Tack Tack.
Veronica Rivera, Restaurant Marc Forgione—Meyer lemon cheesecake.
Pastry Chef Sarabeth Levine, Sarabeth’s—Banana Cream Trifle.
Matteo Bergamini, SD26—Soft quail egg filled ravioli with truffled butter and parmigiano.
Yuhi Fujinaga, Sea Grill—The Sea Grill “CAN build your own” Chirashi Sushi.
Michael Tong, Shun Lee Palace—Peking Duck.
Dale Talde, Talde—Pretzel Pork and Chive Dumplings served with spicy tahini mustard.
William Telepan, Telepan—House made kielbasa with sauerkraut and apple compote.
Sunchar Raymond, Union Square Cafe—Lemon mascarpone cheesecake with fennel seed sable, blood oranges, kumquat confit.
Mike Poiarkoff, Vinegar Hill House—Braised Red Wattle pork, with sunflower hummus, apple and fennel chutney, sourdough naan, cured sunflower bark and fresh herbs.
Manuel Trevino, The Wayfarer—Cured Salmon, cucumber, jalapeno apple vinaigrette.