On the evening of Monday, June 12th, over 40 world renowned chefs traveled from as far as Spain, Croatia, Italy, and Lebanon to cook for the hottest fundraiser on New York City’s social scene. The affair celebrated the 32nd annual Chefs' Tribute to Citymeals On Wheels, an organization which provides food and companionship for homebound elderly New Yorkers who are unable to shop or cook for themselves. Rockwell Group, in collaboration with Citymeals on Wheels, transformed the iconic Rockefeller Center into a Mediterranean culinary utopia for the night.
Since its founding in 1981, Citymeals has delivered more than 54 million meals. Citymeals is the only nonprofit to focus on delivering nutrition meals to the city’s seniors in all five boroughs. Home-delivered meals provided by Citymeals enables them to age with dignity in their own homes and communities. More than 15,421 volunteers collectively spent 72,000 hours visiting and delivering meals to our neighbors. Through rain and snow, searing heat and bone-chilling cold, they trudge through the city lugging carts of food to homebound seniors struggling to get by.
Chef’s Tribute was the created in 1985 by Larry Forgione and Jonathan Waxman as a birthday tribute to James Beard, Co-Founder of Citymeals. Today, the event is much more than just a party. This year, the event raised over $840,000, which will support the delivery of over 114,000 meals. Most importantly, 100 percent of tickets sales and donations fund the preparation and delivery of over 2 million weekend, holiday, and emergency meals for more than 18,000 elderly every year.
This year the theme of the event was "Ports of Mediterranea,” a celebration of Mediterranean cuisine and culture. It drew over hundreds of individuals, including business leaders, philanthropists, gourmet fanatics, restaurateurs, and young professionals. Internationally renowned chefs who donated their time and efforts included Daniel Boulud, Raymond Weber, Larry Forgione, Marc Forgione, Michael Psilakis, Maria Loi, and dozens more. These culinary legends honored the flavors of Mediterranean as they created fabulous dishes at tasting stations throughout the plaza. Each booth was ornamented and fashioned to reflect the vibrant, rich, and the traditional style of countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea. Along with the marvelously complex variety of fares offered, there were also plenty of innovative cocktails, as well as live music from Noah Bless Music.
The ingredients used at each table were fresh and vibrant, with many dishes bursting with flavor from Mediterranean elements. Standout dishes included Chef Javier Bonet Jimenez’s Beef Loin Carpaccio with Raw Tomato & Tartufata sauce; Chef Margouin Chedid's diced tenderloin, pomegranate molasses, and pine nuts; Chef Maria Loi’s Baklava Kyklos Mastiha with Spiced Honey Drizzle; and Chef Matthew Woolf’s seared scallops with prosciutto, tomatoes, andromesco Sauce. Let's be honest though ― everything was incredible.
In a presentation to the audience, Beth Shapiro, Executive Director of Citymeals said “Our message is simple -- we are determined to ensure that no homebound elderly New Yorker ever goes a day without a nutritious meal delivered. Your presence here tonight makes this possible and we thank you.” When asked what her proudest moment with the organization was, a teary-eyed Beth said “No doubt, my proudest moment was our response to Hurricane Sandy. I had only been in this position for only twelve months, and we delivered 64,000 emergency meals, galvanized 836 volunteers, to walk up countless flights of stairs to make sure meals were delivered to not only our meal recipients but 10,000 other stranded elderly people. It was incredible, and I am incredibly lucky to work with the people that I work with.”
Mark Gusinov, Senior Vice President of City National Bank echoed Beth’s message by stating, “Every American deserves food security. This is especially critical today when anti-hunger programs are facing severe funding cuts. Your support helps organizations like Citymeals continue their life-saving operations.” With the leadership of Co-Founder Gael Greene, the annual event ensures that more than 18,000 frail aged New Yorkers will receive a nourishing meal, warm smile and friendly visit every day of the year. New York City is home to more than 1.4 million people over the age of 60. Due to the baby boom era, the city’s senior population is expected to grow 40$ by 2040. This organization needs support more than ever.
Between the live music, dancing, and spectacular fare, it is safe to say that everyone had a truly special time.
Photo Credit: Citymeals on Wheels
For more information or to donate please visit: https://www.citymeals.org/