A few months ago–what seems like an eternity ago–Craig’s mom, Julee, asked if I’d be willing to donate a cookbook dinner for a charity auction to benefit the Whatcom Center for Early Learning in Bellingham, Washington, where she and Craig’s dad, Steve, live. I said, “Sure” and didn’t think twice about it. Of course I’d be happy to cook a dinner for charity, no biggie. Then I forgot all about it. Months passed and then Julee reached back out: the auction item was a big hit. Two couples had paid money (real money) for a meal that would be cooked by yours truly for them and four other people (they could each bring two more people) based on recipes from my cookbook SECRETS OF THE BEST CHEFS. This was really happening. Holy crap, what was I going to cook?
As far as good deeds go, they don’t come any easier than the one we did on Saturday night.
The East Village had just gotten its power back after Hurricane Sandy which, as I’m sure you’re aware, has left the east coast devastated, thousands homeless, others still without power and heat. The restaurant community had been hit especially hard, not only losing business for themselves and their employees, but losing thousands of dollars worth of perishable foods that spoiled after several days without power. On Twitter, everyone from Anthony Bourdain to Pete Wells implored people to eat out downtown on Saturday night, to help these restaurants get back on their feet. Kat Kinsman of CNN’s Eatocracy Tweeted that she was headed to Marco Canora’s Hearth and the second she Tweeted that, I realized that of course I would want to be at Hearth too. Marco Canora is one of the most generous, selfless people I’ve met in the food world–he cooked with me twice for my cookbook, both for the proposal and the book itself–and the idea of helping him by patronizing his restaurant hours after he got power back was an absolute no-brainer.
If you’ve been reading this blog for more than a year, you may remember an exciting contest from last year called “The Great New York Foodie Photo Scavenger Hunt.” It worked like this: I wrote a long list of celebrated New York foodie destinations and assigned different points for various tasks that contestants had to undertake at these destinations while posing for pictures that they’d ultimately upload to Flickr. Here are last year’s results. As you can see, contestants had the time of their lives and not only that, the first and second place winners received two tickets each to Tom Colicchio’s “Toast to the Children Event” at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel.
Attention New York City Food Lover,
Do you have a camera? Do you have a friend? How would you like to spend your weekend running all over the city with your friend taking pictures of you in front of all of the foodie landmarks, eating cookies from Levain Bakery and smoked fish from Russ & Daughters?
“Eh,” you say and I respect that because you’re a busy person and you’d rather spend your weekend drooling on the couch watching reruns of Paula’s Party than chasing after fish and cookies for some idiot’s website.
“But wait,” I say, “what if there was a prize?”
“A prize?” you ask.
“A prize!” I say.
“Tell me more.”
“Ok!” I say.
What a night!
Lessons learned from last night’s latte art throwdown at Joe: The Art of Coffee, a fundraiser for Red Cross disaster relief in Myanmar and China:
(1) Baristas love a good throwdown;
(2) Baristas take a throwdown seriously–many of their hands were shaking as they poured!
(3) When MC-ing such an event, it is bad to interview a barista while she’s prepping her pour (sorry Emily from 9th Street Espresso);
(4) Being a barista grants access to a secret cult of baristas; I was surprised to see the baristas from some of my favorite New York coffee shops–Gorilla, 9th Street and, of course, Joe–all know each other and like each other;
(5) It’s good to have a giant screen so the crowd can see the lattes as they’re poured and hoot and holler for the good ones…