Sometimes a party is just so good you're talking about it days later. This was one of those parties, and this is me re-playing the highlight reel with the top 10 moments of the night. Read more >
Here’s what Mario Batali promised about this weekend’s Mario Batali Foundation Dinner, whose honoree was Jamie Oliver: “There will be no rubber chicken on the plates. There will be no boring speeches. There will be no hard sell.”
And he delivered. For what has to go down as the world’s best soft-sell fundraising events, Batali assembled a bunch of friends at his Del Posto restaurant and put them in charge of the entertainment. His friends sat in a row: Jimmy Fallon next to Wilco's Jeff Tweedy and Glenn Kotche next to Salmon Rushdie who sat beside Patti Smith. Del Posto’s rock star chef Mark Ladner and pastry chef Brooks Headley prepared the non-rubber-chicken meal; Batali’s friends performed in between courses.
Batali was at the head of the table, next to Oliver. The two met 22 years ago (“I was not a legal drinker,” Oliver remembers) at the Tuscany cooking school Capezzana. Batali was teaching a class; Oliver was rolling with Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers from London’s River Café. Now both head up awesome eponymous foundations; both with the same basic goal, to make sure kids get a better food education. And better food, period.
Where to start with the evening’s highlights: Salman Rushdie’s short story reading? Patti Smith’s duet with the Wilco guys (right before Ladner’s superb leafy green agnolotti, topped with truffle butter)? Jimmy Fallon’s anecdote about fans mistaking him for Jeff Tweedy? And then using Tweedy’s guitar to jam? The silent auction that had packages like tickets to Tiger Jam 2014, with a private golf demo from Woods?
Here, incredible gifts for a cause from stylish tote bags that help fund the education of Haitian children to beautiful jewelry that supports hunger relief. The artisan sweets (left) are part of a decadent set including dark chocolate-covered honey cakes and buttery Irish shortbread by Clairesquares. The gift box is sold by San Francisco's La Cocina, an "Incubator Kitchen" that supports low-income food entrepreneurs, many of them women. Browse the full slideshow for more charitable gift ideas.
Related: Chefs Make Change
The world's most passionate young chefs, including René Redzepi and David Chang, are rallying around a Somali restaurateur who continues to rebuild his restaurant after it has been repeatedly destroyed by bombs in war-torn Mogadishu, Somalia. The latest attack occurred on Saturday, killing fifteen and injuring twenty more. Owner Ahmed Jama, who now has five area branches of The Village, released a statement declaring: “I won’t let this stop me. I will start clean up tomorrow.”
So how does a chef with a few local restaurants capture the attention of the most famous chef on the planet? Redzepi first read about Jama via CNN (tied to previous bombings) and invited him to speak at last month's summit for food-world luminaries, MAD3 Symposium in Copenhagen. "Given that Ahmed is a chef and the bombing took place in his restaurant, his story naturally hit close to home," explains MAD’s director Ali Kurshat Altinsoy. Knowing they wanted him there was one thing, getting in touch was another: “It was difficult to even make contact—in Somalia, the internet still remains restricted to land-based dial up and the telephones simply don't ring.”
They did make contact, and Jama shared his story with a large crowd in August: “In 2008, I closed my restaurant in London and moved back to my homeland to open a restaurant in Mogadishu. They thought I was crazy to do it in a war zone,” he said. “We only have a negative history in Somalia. I want my restaurant to change the history of my country, I want it to add a positive message to the world’s perception of Somalia.”
Jama opened The Village to serve Somali dishes like wood-grilled kingfish with green-chili sauce and camel meat with warmly-spiced rice, carrots, and raisins. The recipes reflect the country's heritage as a crossroads for Italians, Ethiopians, Persians and Middle Easterners. But his goal goes far beyond preserving culinary traditions. "It’s the place to come together to build an understanding amongst people,” said Jama. His clientele includes politicians, academics and journalists.
Following last week's tragic events, the friends he made in Denmark have established a $12,500 crowdfunding campaign to raise money for rebuilding efforts. Donations pouring in from around the world, including those from culinary favorites like David Chang, Daniel Patterson of San Francisco's Coi and writer Francis Lam, have already fulfilled over seventy percent of the fundraising goal.
Altinsoy says, “We hope that this small effort can result in something positive for him and those around him.” As Jama undertakes the painful rebuilding process once more, his statement at MAD, “I always believed that food can change society. Often, it is the only way,” seems more poignant than ever.
Related: More Chefs Make Change
On September 23, twenty-four of New York’s top women chefs will cook at an event benefitting SHARE, a non-profit offering free support to women with breast or ovarian cancer. This is the 10 anniversary of the event, called A Second Helping of Life. Participating powerhouses include Annisa's Anita Lo (one of the original masterminds), Alex Guarnaschelli of Butter, Alex Raij of La Vara, Porchetta queen Sara Jenkins and Prune's Gabrielle Hamilton. While the chefs’ dishes have not yet been announced, we do know one that will be there for sure: Rebecca Charles of Pearl Oyster Bar will be serving her signature lobster roll, which she’s been making for the event every year. Tickets for the event, which is being held at Chelsea Piers, start at $300 and can be purchased here.
Food tech guru and Booker & Dax cocktail genius Dave Arnold is hosting a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for his most ambitious project yet: MOFAD, the non-profit Museum of Food and Drink. Here's why you should give.
1. Puffing cannons look awesome. Arnold's video pitch, above, offers a look at the 1900s-era puffed cereal game changer, which will be the museum's first mobile exhibit. "Puffing cannon encapsulates everything that will make MOFAD great," says Arnold. "It's explosive, it's entertaining and it tells a story."
2. "Dave Arnold is the culinary Google," according to chef Anita Lo.
3. Pastry innovator Brooks Headley of Del Posto thinks Arnold is the only person who could pull off a project of this scale.
4. Chefs David Chang, Wylie Dufresne and Mario Batali also think it's a good idea.
5. $50 gets you a durable MOFAD tote made by Brooklyn's Baggu.
6. Pledge $400 and you can party with Arnold while drinking his extraordinary cocktails and eating puffed rice snacks.
Watch the video for further convincing from Arnold's superstar culinary friends.
From Left: Chef Jeff Michaud, Jeff Benjamin and Marc Vetri; © Philip Gabriel.
On Tuesday in Philadelphia, local empire builder and F&W Best New Chef 1999 Marc Vetri will welcome some of the country’s most exciting chefs to cook at the 8th annual Great Chefs Event at the Urban Outfitters Headquarters in the city’s Navy Yard. Among the 46 super talents at the grand tasting: Michael Symon, grill master Adam Perry Lang and New York’s April Bloomfield. Vetri founded the event to benefit the charity Alex’s Lemonade Stand after meeting the parents of its creator Alex Scott, a young cancer victim who in 2000, set up a lemonade stand to help raise money to cure other kids with the disease. What Vetri started as a small gathering has since grown to a yearly event that now welcomes 1,200 people and hopes to raise more than $1 million for the second year in a row.
An unintended, but brilliant consequence of Great Chefs has been the establishment of the event's co-beneficiary, Vetri Foundation for Children. Its signature program is called Eatiquette, which aims to improve school lunch by serving healthier food family-style. “The simple reason why our program is so amazing is that if you line up a whole bunch of kids and put apples there, who’s going to take one? But if they’re sitting around and talking and you place a big plate of sliced apples in the middle of the table, they’re all going to eat apples,” says Vetri. In the new school year, Eatiquette should expand from six charter schools into three to four more, including a Philadelphia public school. If you can’t make it down to Philly (though it’s worth trying to score tickets to the after party DJ’ed by Questlove), we suggest bidding on killer auction items now online like dinner with Tom Colicchio and his director wife Lori Silverbush at Vetri and a four-day trip to the Adriatic. The highlight of the live auction is an eating tour through Italy’s Marche region with Vetri himself.
Alex's Lemonade Stand is also hosting National Lemondade Days this weekend, a coast-to-coast fundraiser to raise money to fight childhood cancer.
It's not every day that Mario Batali hands out a Golden Pie Service Award. In fact, he'd never given one out before Sunday night, when he handed one to President Bill Clinton. Clinton was the star of an astonishing crowd that came out to support the Mario Batali Foundation, which works to keep kids well fed, well read and well cared for. Read more >
Chef John Besh presents Syrena Johnson with her chef jacket. / Courtesy Besh Restaurant Group
Here at F&W we’re crazy about the amazing food that our chef heroes make every single day, but we’re even more excited when they’re passionate about passing the torch on to the next generation of culinary leaders. Legendary chef John Besh has set out on a new mission: diversifying the chef community of New Orleans, enlisting native sons and daughters to preserve the city's venerable culinary traditions.
Mario Batali and U2's The Edge; Ken Goodman Photography
Among the superstars in Food & Wine's Chefs Make Change coalition, Mario Batali is making power moves to raise funds for his charity this summer. The Mario Batali Foundation, which helps feed, protect and educate children, just announced two celebrity-studded events starring Bill Clinton. The former president will headline an inaugural MBF Honors dinner in New York on September 9 at Batali's fine-dining flagship Del Posto Ristorante, where guests will include Jimmy Fallon (tickets $1,500 and over).
On September 10, Clinton, the chef, and his creative friends will play golf at the third annual MBF Swing Session Celebrity Golf Classic (see: Batali with U2 guitarist The Edge at last year's event, left). The all-day outing features a chartered boat ride from Manhattan to Liberty National Golf Club across the Hudson, a clinic with PGA player Hunter Mahan and food from Marea's Michael White and Del Posto chef Mark Ladner. Slots start at $3,000 ($10k for a foursome). Club Hill Media produced a video tease if you want a closer look at how these blockbuster events are done.