Star Chefs Making a Difference: Mario Batali on Food Banks

Mario Batali with Food Bank for New York City.
Mario Batali and Emeril Lagasse at the Food Bank's annual 2010 Can-Do Awards Dinner. Photo © 2009 Wireimage.

The Chef: Mario Batali

The Cause: Food Bank for New York City

When I bring my sons, Leo and Benno, to the Food Bank's Community Kitchen in Harlem to help serve food, that's when I realize the organization's real value. My kids see the working poor, who look no different than anyone from our neighborhood. They see people with jobs who can't get enough food for their families.

For the past six years, I have co-chaired the Food Bank's annual Can-Do Awards. It's gone from a relatively small affair—we might have made $500,000 the first year—to a much more high-ticket event. This year, we brought in $1.4 million, with Emeril Lagasse (with me, at right) and Anthony Bourdain there to help. Last year, we had Bill Clinton. He gave a good speech, but when Bono sat on my lap, that's when everyone went wild.

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PUBLISHED July 2010

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