A Bite of New York - 2019 C-CAP Annual Benefit
Living in New York for 6 years, it’s no surprise that I’ve morphed into one of those jaded, judgy foodies. My daily screen time on Yelp is almost an hour, but I am still having a hard time finding the cuisines that can “wow” me. Isn’t that scary? Well, fortunately and unfortunately, I am definitely not the only New Yorker with the problem of choice paralysis. The good news is, I’ve overcome it, and the magic was done by the C-CAP 2019 Benefit Chefs.
C-CAP (Careers through Culinary Arts Program) is an incubator for future leaders of the culinary and hospitality industry. In short, it brings the best chefs to the world. As a national non-profit organization, C-CAP is committed to educating and guiding underserved high school students to a bright future by awarding $65-million in scholarship money. Honoring Chef Eric Ripert, the co-owner of the Michelin 3-Star Restaurant Le Bernardin, C-CAP held its 2019 Benefit Event at Pier Sixty .
When I opened the door to the event, I was immediately seduced by the unique and powerful aromas of food pervading the air. My first stop was the table prepared by Almond, which served incredibly delicious “Smoked Duck Tacos.” Displayed on a table adorned by sea salt, sage, star anise, and Lonicera maackii that reminded me of the summers in Mexico’s Gulf Coast, the tacos appeared to be exceptionally tempting. After my first bite, I had this strong feeling that my passion for cuisines was coming back.
Don’t think of me as an over-reactor because I was not the only one who exclaimed during the tasting. After I finished my first round, my friend arrived and asked me for recommendations. “Try the squash soup”, I said. He was skeptical, but, I dragged him to the table of Batard, where he ended up satiating himself with the creamy and delicate squash soup mixed with brown butter sabayon and brioche croutons. After one bite, he was on my side.
While sipping the superb Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, We finished the grand tour of cuisines served by 30 of New York’s top chefs including Eric Ripert, Daniel Boulud from Restaurant Daniel, and Marcus Samuelsson from Red Rooster Harlem. During a brief conversation with Chef Samuelsson while having his salmon roll in my mouth, I was impressed by his culinary talent, the local spirit of Harlem, the authenticity and diversity of Red Rooster’s creations, as well as his hospital personality.
After three hours of decadence, my stomach was stuffed with the best comfort food you can find in the city: The Modern’s “White Asparagus with Black Truffles over Creamy Polenta”, Estiatorio Milo’s signature “Lavraki Baked in Sea Salt”, and the “Beef Tenderloin Salad” from Porter House were just some of the dishes I went back for again and again — but no guilt here, because it was all for charity!
The evening featured a live and silent auction, which successfully raised a tremendous amount of funds to support students with educational and career opportunities through the culinary arts. During an interview with current students at C-CAP, they told me that this benefit event was the one of the most important moments in their lives. It not only provided them opportunities to cooperate with and learn from the top chefs in the world, but it also provided them with the financial support that is instrumental to their development.
Near the end of the event, I got myself a glass of Chardonnay and took a seat by the French windows. Sitting in one of the best venues in New York City, smelling the aromatic cuisines, enjoying Hudson River’s picturesque water views and the city lights of New York, I finally got lost in the air of romance.