There is a distinction at a fund-raising event for C-CAP, the Careers through Culinary Arts Program, that doesn’t usually apply to other such events. One can actually see the organization’s results in play. Throughout the elaborate food-tasting at New York’s Pier 60, Chelsea Piers, on February 27, students who have benefited from the organization’s training program were graciously assisting.
On the way in I encountered a young woman who was helping to welcome the nearly 1000 guests attending, and when I inquired about her background, she enthusiastically told of having been given a C-CAP scholarship that enabled her to have lived in Paris and studied at the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu. The experience has already changed her life. (Before founding C-CAP, chef and author Richard Grausman, now C-CAP's Chairman Emeritus, represented Le Cordon Bleu in the United States.)
The honoree this year, José Andrés, has been lauded for his achievements as a culinary innovator, author, educator, TV personality, humanitarian and chef/owner of ThinkFoodGroup & minibar by José Andrés. Imposing and exuberant, Andrés in accepting the award spoke words of hope and encouragement to the assemblage. “We must be sure that we don’t leave anybody behind, ” he asserted, praising C-CAP for all it does. He said that by always pressing ahead a big difference can be made in so many lives.
The Honors Award to Andrés was presented by Chair Ken Himmel, President & CEO of Related Urban, C-CAP Board Co-Chair and chef Marcus Samuelsson, and Richard Grausman. During the evening the event honored Grausman in celebration of his 80th birthday, with the crowd joining to sing “Happy Birthday” to him. WCBS-TV News Anchorman Maurice DuBois was Master of Ceremonies. Sotheby’s auctioneer Eli Rodriquez conducted an auction of special attractions that helped raise the funds, and there was also a silent auction.
Speeches and ceremony aside, the special pleasure of attending is the opportunity to sample signature dishes from some of the most prominent restaurants and chefs in New York. The tables stretched across the room, the wine flowed and lines formed. I did my share of tasting, not everything of course, as the choices are too vast, although I talked to one woman who was on a personal mission to sample each available dish. I don’t know if she succeeded.
In my tour I found the grilled octopus with red wine, macerated onions, fresh herbs, lemon and oiive oil served by Loi Estiatorio excellent, and I chatted with owner Maria Loi, whom I know from having patronized her restaurant. Felidia served an intriguing shrimp with blood orange “agrodolce” with fennel, basil seeds and pistachio. Café Boulud was represented by smoked Alaskan salmon with horseradish yogurt, beets and pumpernickel. I liked Park Avenue Winter’s concoction of smoked mushrooms and Urbani Perigord truffle with hazelnuts on corn johnnycake.
There was Asiate’s fois gras royale with lychee and pumpkin seed crumble. I enjoyed Oceana’s swordfish paillard with Milanese salad. Almond served Moroccan-style lamb meatballs with salsa verde and smoked feta. The Tuck Room’s brioche-encrusted crab cake was superb. The Modern served gently seared prawns with brown butter and almonds. I could go on and on.
As for desserts, I liked Gramercy Tavern’s old fashioned coconut cake doughnuts with passion fruit glaze. Triple chocolate chocolate pudding was the seductive, rich offering of Sarabeth’s. Fusco delighted with tiramisu “ag2ffogato.”
The following is a list of participating chefs and restaurants: Philip DeMaiolo, Abigail Kirsch
Jason Weiner and Alex Nieto, Almond
Cyril Renaud, Asiate
Markus Glocker, Bâtard
Daniel Boulud, Aaron Bludorn, Cesar Gutierrez*, Café Boulud
Carla Hall, Carla Hall
Melissa Rodriguez, Del Posto
Fortunato Nicotra, Felidia
Scott Conant, Fusco
Alfred Portale, Gotham Bar and Grill
Miro Uskokovic, Gramercy Tavern
Manish Mehrotra, Indian Accent
Maria Loi, Loi Estiatorio
Kim Up Lim, Michael’s
Abram Bissell, The Modern
Matt Hoyle, Nobu 57
Bill Telepan, Oceana
Zene Flinn, Park Avenue Winter
Ashfer Biju, Perrine
Thomas Keller, Per Se
Philippe Bertineau, The Polo Bar
Michael Lomonaco and Wayne Harley Brachman, Porter House
Delfin Jaranilla, Quality Eats
Sarabeth Levine, Sarabeth’s
Marcus Samuelsson, Streetbird Rotisserie
Sherry Yard and Greg Power, The Tuck Room
José Andrés, ThinkFoodGroup
Thomas Chen, Tuome
Yvan Lemoine*, Union Fare
Chris Santos, Vandal
Michael White, Vaucluse
(For more information visit www.ccapinc.org; follow C-CAP on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook @CCAPINC )