Seafood Swims at Citymeals Chefs’ Tribute
Beverly Stephen - June 16th, 2014
Old-timers and first timers made up the platoon of nearly 50 chefs dishing up their finest ideas to more than 1,000 guests for the 29th annual Chefs’ Tribute, “Summer by the Sea,” to Citymeals-on-Wheels, last Monday night at Rockefeller Center. There were octopus and sea urchin aplenty, as well as the requisite lobster roll, but Wagyu and pork trotted in with the multitude of sea creatures.
Jonathan Waxman, one of the original Tribute gang and in attendance for the 29th time, opted for farro, apricot, shrimp, and almond salad. “Gone are my days of foie gras tacos with cherry habañero salsa,” he said, explaining that he’s learned to simplify. “I made a salad.” With a hint of nostalgia, he recalled the earliest event when “they were all here—Edna Lewis, Philippe Rojas Lombardi, Mark Miller, Wolfgang Puck, Alice Waters.”
Although the founding chefs still support the Tribute and box office names like Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Daniel Boulud, and Alfred Portale were actually manning their restaurants’ booths, a number of rising stars now lend their support as well. Stephanie Izard of The Girl and the Goat in Chicago noted that she was honored to be invited for the first time and was busily preparing a smoked goat belly tostada and explaining that this was a great way to use the whole animal. Jose Enrique came from Puerto Rico and proffered arepas can bacalao. Justin Cogley (Aubergine) brought chicken and coastal herbs and flowers from Carmel, California.
The event raised more than $820,000 this year. The organization delivers two million meals to 18,000 homebound elderly annually.
Co-founder Gael Greene was pleased by the longevity and success of the event. “Nick Valenti’s Patina team and Citymeals’ do-it yourself special events squad seem to get better at this every year,” she said. “No one seemed to mind the rain plan, we were all so busy eating. The early crowd was rich, and the late crowd was young.”