Supporters of C-CAP (Careers Through Culinary Arts Program) know an especially good place to enjoy the best in food. On February 24, 2004, more than 600 of them flocked to Pier 60 to partake of special tasting dishes served by chefs of many of the best restaurants in New York. The benefit, the sixth of its kind that C-CAP has held, affords an unusual opportunity to binge on food, wine and champagne. But there were more than taste buds satisfied. The event raised a savory $500,000 for the non-profit organization, the money going toward providing scholarships to help high school students advance to a start in food service careers. Since its founding in 1990, C-CAP has awarded more than $11 million in scholarships and its program has reached some 10,000 students in 200 high schools nationwide.
Those attending the benefit sampled an array of dishes, then topped it off by walking among the rows of dessert tables sampling a galaxy of riches. But what does one do after dessert when noticing more food tables not yet visited? Go back for more seems to have been the answer. Then, isn't it time for more dessert? Such was the festive atmosphere to be found by those having the satisfaction of indulging themselves while contributing to a cause.
Richard Grausman and his wife, Susan Grausman, founders of C-CAP, co-chaired the event with Darlene and Tom Ryder of the Reader's Digest Association, Inc., with television personality Al Roker of NBC's "Today" show once again serving as emcee. Marcus Samuelsson of Aquavit and Riingo restaurants was Chef Committee Chair.
As is the custom, C-CAP honors outstanding representatives of the restaurant community. This year's joint honorees were Danny Meyer, president of the Union Square Hospitality Group, and Michael Romano, Union Square Café's executive chef and partner, designated "for their industry leadership, their dedication to excellence and for the commitment they share with C-CAP to nurture the next generation of American chefs." They were presented with C-CAP's signature stainless steel sculptures created by sculptor Philip Grausman.
One table at the event was hosted by C-CAP graduate Rachel Lansang, now pastry chef at Fauchon. Others whose careers were launched by C-CAP also participated. Some 60 high school students assisted chefs. The event this year seemed particularly well-organized, with lots of help circulating to take used plates and glasses, thereby keeping the pier neat and enabling guests to move quickly for more tasting or getting fresh glasses of wine and champagne.
Among the noted establishments participating were @SQC, Abigail Kirsch, Aquavit, Atelier, Aureole, Beacon, The Biltmore Room, Blue Fin, Blue Hill, Blue Smoke, Craft, Daniel, D'Artagnan Rotisserie, Eleven Madison Park, Fauchon, Felidia, Fiamma, Fifty Seven Fifty Seven, Fleur de Sel, Gotham Bar & Grill, Ilo, Judson Grill, Lever House, Nice Matin, Nobu, Oceana, OLA, Olives, Patroon, Payard, Restaurant rm, Riingo, Sarabeth's,Tabla, Town, Union Square Café, Wallsé, and WD-50.
Champagne Gosset was served, courtesy of Palm Bay Imports of Syosset, N.Y. with wines from the Robert Mondavi Family of Wines. Coffee, including espresso and cappuccino, was provided by illy.
If you want a few limited examples of delicacies served, note that those attending tried sesame crab cocktail with wakame and shiso from @SQC; squash blossom rellenos filled with chipotle pulled pork and manchego cheese corn griddle cake and avocado peach salsa from Abigail Kirsch; cured Kobe beef and sweet shrimp with persimmon puree and cucumber from Aquavit; bluefin tuna and diver scallop tartare seasoned with caviar from Atelier; lamb confit with candied kumquats, watercress salad and crispy yuca from Aureole; wood roasted oysters with shallots, verjus and herbs from Beacon; confit duck and foie gras rillettes, crisped with black truffles and apple-celery root pickle from The Biltmore Room; pan-seared Maine sea scallop, Asian pear and red endive salad with blood orange-soy vinaigrette from Blue Fin; marinated seafood with citrus salad from Blue Hill; braised blue smoke bacon with savory white bean ragout from Blue Smoke--and that's just getting through the A and B alphabet restaurant participants. It would be too cruel to make your mouth water with recounting all the desserts.
There were also 40 silent auction items bid on, including such lures as a three-night stay at Canyon Ranch, a four-night stay at the Four Seasons Punta Mita, and dinners at such top restaurants as Daniel, Union Square Café, Gramercy Tavern, Jean Georges and Alain Ducasse.
For further information about C-CAP: Phone 212-974-7111, fax 212-974-7117, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or click on www.ccapinc.org.