The gala, which raised $4.1 million for New York's hungry, honored Michael White, Richard Gere, and Marc and Kris Granetz.
Every year, City Harvest—a non-profit organization that rescues leftover food and distributes it to people in need across New York City—hosts a fundraising gala at Cipriani. The 2019 edition took place on Tuesday night, and high-profile attendees included Ted Allen, honoree Richard Gere, Eric Ripert, Anita Lo, Darren Criss, and Angie Mar. Chrissy Teigen, who was honored at last year’s gala, hosted alongside Queer Eye’s Antoni Porowksi. By the end of the event, attendees raised $4.1 million, which is enough to provide over 14 million meals, according to City Harvest.
”One in five children in our city goes to school hungry," Teigen said during her presentation. "That just won’t do in my family."
The gala, sponsored by Moët Hennessy USA, Skylark, Mandarin Oriental New York, Walgreens and Duane Reade, Taylor Creative Inc., I. Halper, and United Airlines, helps support an organization that is expected to rescue 61 million pounds of food this year—half of which will be fresh produce. (Moët's employees helped City Harvest feed roughly one million New Yorkers in their year-long partnership, according to a statement.) After the food waste is rescued, City Harvest then delivers the food for free to soup kitchens, pantries, and community partners in the city.
To fund those efforts, there were several experiences up for auction at the event—a truffle feast for the winner and 20 guests, prepared by chef and City Harvest honoree Michael White; a cocktail class with Geoffrey Zakarian and Charlize Theron at Zakarian’s home, followed by an elaborate meal; and, at the silent auction, a two-night getaway at New York’s Baccarat Hotel. Last year’s gala saw a stunning $1.1 million winning bid (sold twice!) for a private dinner cooked by Eric Ripert, with a John Legend serenade and Teigen for company. (A similar dinner sold for $1 million this year, with the addition of Yo-Yo Ma on the cello and Richard Gere as a guest.)
Above all else, the night serves as a good reminder to examine how you can reduce food waste in your everyday life. White told Food & Wine the event was something he holds “very, very close to his heart” as a chef; TV host and City Harvest Food Council member Ted Allen said planning is crucial to making sure you use everything you buy, with fresh vegetables, meats, and eggs as one of the bigger challenges.
“I think in the United States something like 40 percent of the food that we buy does go to waste, and when you look at how many millions of people in this world are literally starving, that’s really tragic,” Allen told Food & Wine. “It’s something to be aware of and work on.” Indeed, the New York Times reported in 2017 that "in wealthy countries, especially the United States and Canada, around 40 percent of wasted food is thrown out by consumers.”
There are several steps you can take to avoid wasting food—last year, our test kitchen released a list of tips for more eco-friendly kitchen practices, including compositing leftover scraps and buying seasonal foods in small quantities, as opposed to buying in bulk. You can also choose to get involved in organizations like City Harvest, and recover food that would otherwise go to waste—find out more on the organization's official site.