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.
Los Angeles brightest, young Asian Pacific leaders were recognized for their outstanding philanthropy last night in rainy Downtown LA. APCF, the Asian Pacific Community Fund, hosted the Awards reception for the third year in a row where 200 community supporters, philanthropists and young civic leaders came out to support the young awards recipients.
Fashion is one of the sharpest, most immediate ways an individual can express him or herself to other people.
Whether it’s the length of one’s skirt or the fabric of one’s jeans, the color of one’s top or the pattern of one’s bag, what you wear speaks monumentally about who you are or what you want to come across as.
But we often forget that there are millions out there who don’t even have the freedom to utilize this form of expression. Let’s take a look at the numbers:
Do these numbers astound you? Do they make you shudder knowing how quickly and easily your freedom can be taken away from you in an instant?
The reminder was made clear in a stylish way on Saturday, Nov. 6, 2010 at the second annual Freedom and Fashion show held at Newsong Church in Irvine, Calif. More than 1,300 people were in attendance for the fashion show and trade booths.
Each of the designers and merchandises on display at the event were specially selected not only for their beauty but also for their small and large-scale function to do good for humanity.
The show itself was educational and entertaining with Style host and Extra correspondent Jeannie Mai emcee-ing for the night. Mai talks about her own brush with human trafficking, recounting her discovery of her own cousin selling her body in Vietnam. Mai conversed with other women working in the brothels and discovered that, “after talking with them about their hair and their clothes … I actually realized that I had two major things in common with every single woman and child I spoke with … They all have a dream to have a future … and they all wanted to be loved. Even if it comes from a wallet, they needed to be loved.”
And this love was clearly seen on stage, from stellar performances by the soulful Esna Yoon and Dr. E, a professor from Ohio and survivor of sex-trafficking to the splashy designer intro videos to the jubilant models gliding down the v-shaped catwalk.
Designs by Anita Arze, Naem Denim Co., and krochet kids matched nicely with wares from LiNK, TOMS and Kristinit and more. It was hard to imagine that all the people who put the show together were paid not a single cent for their labor and time because the quality of the show was just so good. I can never watch a fancy couture show the same way again.
Freedom and Fashion’s life and soul, founder Bonnie Kim, had no previous with fashion or sex trafficking. She was just a concerned individual who, through prayer, found her calling in raising awareness to this near-invisible issue. Kim explains,
“I know sex sells here, but it creates a lot of pain … Sex has been totally misrepresented in today’s society. Because of it I feel like it perpetuates industries like porn and industries like human trafficking. Unless we address these issues, this problem is just going to continue and get worse—women ending up being sex slaves or them feeling the need to, in order to survive, resort to prostitution or being in the trade. And that’s more overseas than here, but many times girls here for the love of someone else they would just easily give themselves away … and it’s not supposed to be like that.”
For the future, Freedom and Fashion has been hosting smaller fashion previews and hopes to acquire a Los Angeles office space, create a division in New York City and in five years, develop an after-school program that teaches young girls the dangers of sex trafficking and how to sew. To find out how you can help, click here.
All photos courtesy of Steven Lam.
Though there are signs of a recovering economy, like so many crocuses poking their colorful petals out of the frozen ground, as a certain overweight rodent tells us, it’s still pretty blustery out there. Everything tells me to pull the covers over my head and stay in bed for a spell longer. But, if I were in New York City, I just might be persuaded to grab a few gently used items from my closet and head on over to Asian Women Giving Circle’s fundraiser, “Sip, Shop and Swap.” Held together with Circle of Sisters for Social Change of the New York Women’s Foundation, the idea is to shop your — or as in this case, someone else’s — closet for a good cause.
The “cause” can be any number of worthy efforts — all Asian American women-led. Proceeds from the fundraiser go into one big pot of cash that AWGC then awards to a community-led social change project. Since its founding in 2005, the nonprofit says it’s awarded about $270,000 to Asian women. Now that’s a stimulus we can all get behind.
DETAILS: March 17, 2010, 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Bridge Gallery at 98 Orchard St. RSVP deadline March 12.