New York, NY –
Knives! Camera! Action! Some of the most prominent chefs gathered together for the 27th Annual Chefs’ Tribute to benefit Citymeals-On-Wheels. This year’s theme was “Salute to The Silver Screen”, as chefs created dishes inspired by their favorite movies.
Twenty-six years earlier, Chefs Jonathan Waxman and Larry Forgione came up with idea of celebrating the life of culinary legend, James Beard and his love of cooking while benefiting the Citymeals-on-Wheels. After proposing the idea with Citymeals Co-founder Gael Greene, it was decided that it would take place every year in New York City in honor of James Beard.
As I arrived at the Rockefeller Center, I witnessed several chefs and team assembling their stations and fine-tuning every dish. With the possibly of rain, the event was hosted under tents but didn’t take away from the ambiance of this “star chef-studded benefit”. The position of each booth was throughly organized and flowed with finesse.
I had the opportunity to chat with Chef Daniel Boulud who expressed that he had been apart of this annual event for at least twenty years and hopes that the foundation exceeds their goal. Executive Chef Gavin Kaysen of Cafe Boulud, explained the preparation of their inspired dish, Black Bass Crudo.
Once the event opened, the live band began to play as the VIP attendees took the red carpet. Attendees included Actress Kathleen Turner and Actor Michael Douglas. Michael who noted “I want to try every dish at every station”, was in for a treat for the finest ingredients.
It was now time to indulge in these delectable dishes and fine spirits. My first stop was at Chef David Burke’s booth who offered savory push-pops, that included foie gras, chicken liver, and tuna tartar which distinct flavors equally stood up against one another. He also served his signature cheesecake pops off his creative tree stand.
As I continued the dishes only got better, it was truly a explosion of flavors on my palette. No dish was alike, the culinary legend Chef Jean-Georges presented a lobster and sea urchin dish. As I had never tried sea urchin, it was no way I would turn up the opportunity to try one of his dishes. The sea urchin had a sweet yet somewhat briny flavor, which complimented the buttery sweet lobster.
Across from his station, I witnessed Chef Duff Goldman assemble a “Star Trek Burger”, or what I called it anyway. Since I first began watching him on television a couple years ago, he’s only gotten better.
Every station, every chef continued to surprise and amaze me with every dish. I must stop and reitierate, the caliber of these chefs who are prominent, respected chefs whom you watch on popular culinary shows and networks, as well as the chefs you read about Gourmet Magazine. I was indeed in good company with a satisfied palette.
After eating several savory dishes, my sweet taste buds began to feel neglected and I had to oblige to its command. I cleansed my palette a bit and decided to start with a cherry French macaroon prepared by Chef François Payard of François Payard Bakery. The meringue-based macaroon was baked to a crisp perfection with a sweet, yet tart cherry filling which offset both flavors and textures.
I was then graciously greeted with an Italian kiss by Silvana Vivoli of Vivoli Il Gelato, where she served up a delicious red apple sorbet, strega liquor gelato, and bacio [Italian for kiss]. A celebration it was in my mouth with flavors of creamy milk chocolate, toasted hazelnuts, and fresh apple [no grittiness].
No event is complete without trying Jacques Torres’ chocolate treats. In Torres’ fashion, his station was a fun, whimsical take on the movie favorite “Willy Wonka & Chocolate Factory”. His treats included “Fizzy Lifting” Pina Colada Shots and “Everlasting” Frozen Hot Chocolate.
Before heading out, I had opportunity to chat with Red Rooster chef/owner, author, and an individual I truly admire and respect, Chef Marcus Samuelsson. We chatted about his upcoming book Yes Chef, a memoir that he said took five years to write about his journey throughout the culinary world.
The Chefs’ Tribute 2012 was truly a success with exquisite service, pleasant conversations with distinguished chefs, delectable dishes and an overall gratifying experience for all who attended. I hope that this event brought awareness to Citymeals-On-Wheels as well exceeding the monetary goal.