On an unseasonably warm and gorgeous October 5th evening, many of New York City’s Asian American young professionals came out to support the annual Plate by Plate tasting benefit held at the historic New York Public Library. Plate by Plate NYC is the premier annual food and wine charity fundraising event thrown by the New York City chapter of the national volunteer organization, Project by Project.
In it’s 15th Year, this event still managed to surprise and delight the 500 guests that came out to support the benefit . Decked out in their cocktail best and ready to eat, drink and be charitable, these urban professionals tasted treats from 30 of the city’s finest restaurants and beverage purveyors.
The participating restaurants offered up innovative fare that included lobster katifi pumpkin bisque, smoked lamb ribs, foie gras a la shabu shabu, artisanal ice creams (honey vanilla, fresh mint or Nutella) served with homemade shortbreads, and so much more.
Second year participant, Chef Toshi Nukui of Pranna served a red chicken curry with vegetable samosa sticks because he felt it best represented Southeast Asian cuisine. Mark Lee, general manager of Spot Dessert Bar, returning for a third year, said they chose to serve kabocha brulee cake because they wanted to share some Asian flavors that were not common in desserts.
Chris Jaeckle, a Michelin star chef formerly with Ai Fiori, debuted his new restaurant, All’onda, at the event. Attendees got to sample his restaurant before it officially opens in November in Union Square.
The thoughtful menus of all the participating restaurants impressed the well-dressed crowds, as many lined up again and again for the creative delicacies. Sake and wine flowed freely as the hallways overflowed with these foodies, mingling and dining for a good cause.
A special chef’s tasting demo emceed by longtime supporter, MSNBC anchor Richard Lui was held in the main hall. Lui has hosted the Quickfire Challenge (a cooking competition) for the past two years. First up was Chef Justin Antiorio, this past season’s Hell’s Kitchen runner-up, who cooked up a charred octopus dish with white bean puree in under ten minutes. He took the dish out to the audience and even the finickiest eater was pleased. Celebrity taster, Tom Keene, Bloomberg Radio Host, declared it delicious.
Founding Plate by Plate Chef Kerry Heffernan of Top Chef Masters who has supported the benefit from the very beginning, put together a pasta dish featuring clams, bacon and kale, with the help of CNBC Reporter, Seema Mody and all under 8 minutes He stressed how easy it was to find the ingredients locally and that anyone could make this dish at home. It was another crowd pleaser.
In addition to the tastings, there was a silent auction featuring over 70 items donated by merchants, organizations and individuals. There were a great variety of items (posh vacation packages, stunning jewelry, tech gadgets, etc) with something for just about everyone’s liking. Some of the hot “priceless” treasures included an autographed Michael Jackson Thriller record, a Justin Bieber autographed poster, Asian American activist Corky Lee’s framed poster, and a signed Jeremy Lin Knicks jersey. Figures will not be out for a few weeks but are expected to bring in over $10,000, according to Project by Project’s NY Marketing Director Anne Lee.
Each year, Project by Project partners with a community-based organization and tailors a year-long campaign to help its fundraising, community outreach, and public awareness efforts. In commemoration of Project by Project’s 15th anniversary, net proceeds from this year’s benefit will go toward further developing and strengthening the organization’s overall infrastructure, so, that they can continue providing support for future partners and the community. Project by Project NY has partnered and helped 14 organizations to date. The organization and event is 100% volunteer based and 165 volunteers helped to make the evening a success.