The Careers Through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP) held its annual benefit at Chelsea Piers on Wednesday, and fun (and a whole lot more) was on the menu. Chefs from more than 30 of the city’s finest restaurants—among them heavy hitters like The Modern, Gramercy Tavern and Lilia, to name just a few—were on hand for the gala’s annual “grand tasting” event.
“I've been running this event for 18 years, but even if I wasn't running this event I'd still be here. It's the greatest food event in New York, with the greatest chefs in New York," said Harriette Rose Katz, whose group Gourmet Advisory Services coordinated the event. Although she stressed that each dish was wonderful in its own way, Katz’s favorite dishes from the evening were the Scallop Crudo from Vaucluse, the Salmon Tataki from Nobu and the Duck Liver Mousse from Café Boulud.
The mood was carefree and fun, and, between mouthfuls, the conversation flowed. The seasonal restaurant Park Avenue Winter was Park Avenue Spring for the night, actual season be damned. “Well, we got tired of Winter, so we thought we’d do Spring a week early,” said chef Zene Flinn. For the cooks on hand, all of whom run acclaimed restaurants, adapting their sensibilities to the smaller scale of an hors d’oeuvre proved an exciting challenge. “I like to do something a little bit different every year,” said Markus Glocker of Bâtard, who was returning to the benefit for the third time. “Twice I’ve done a desert, but this year I wanted to do something savory that figured into an actual dish we have on the menu.” Glocker ultimately settled on a scaled-down version of the caramelle pasta with braised duck and whipped ricotta that he serves at Bâtard.
Fortunately, all of the gorging was for a good cause. C-CAP is a charity organization dedicated to helping disadvantaged youths pursue careers in the restaurant and foodservice industry. It has helped thousands of children follow their dreams, and counts the executive chefs of such acclaimed restaurants as Café Boulud and Asiate as its alumni.
Later in the night, Michael Anthony of Gramercy Tavern accepted the C-CAP Honors Award, presented to him by fellow chef (and C-CAP co-chairman) Marcus Samuelsson. "Thank you for believing in this vision that young people can truly follow their dreams,” he said. “It's not at all work when its your passion you wake up every day because its what you love to do, and I feel so lucky to be able to be here with you tonight."
All in all, some 700 people attended, among them Danny Meyer, Tim and Nina Zagat, Drew Nieporent and Saul Zabar. Through their contributions, the group raised nearly $1 million. Unusual for such a joyous party, at no point in the evening did dancing start. Everyone was just too full.