Last night, over 40 of New York’s top restaurants came together to for a celebration of local ingredients to support Just Food, the nonprofit that connects NYC communities with local farms and food. While the jam-packed fall tasting event circuit can be taxing for restaurants, the fifth annual “Let Us Eat Local” benefit was one where all of the chefs seemed truly happy to be there.
“We were the first restaurant to sign up for the first year,” said Gramercy Tavern’s Michael Anthony, who prepared a cheese pumpkin and black garlic flatbread. “I like the idea that that our enthusiasm for local foods can influence others in the community.” Anthony was stationed next to his buddy Bill Telepan, who made a cauliflower soup with quince and hazelnuts. “I made sure to put those two together,” said a Just Food organizer while the two chefs joked around. Guests milled around and snacked on more local fare, like eggplant “chorizo” with preserved tomatoes from Northern Spy Food Co. and housemade burrata with fig jam from Perry St.
The local-ingredient ethos carried over to dessert, too, with a pie contest featuring entries from First Prize Pies, Jimmy’s no. 43, Bubby’s, magnolia Bakery and Pie country. “Usually I use Plugra butter,” said First Prize Pie’s Allison Kave while slicing up her candy-apple pie. “But to keep things local for this event, I tried dairy Kriemhill Dairy from upstate New York, and I liked it so much I’m going to use it for everything now.” Kave’s pie stayed true to its namesake, eventually winning the top judge’s prize in the contest.
As the night went on, guests sipped cocktails made with Red Apple Orchards juice and bid on an impressive array of food-centric auction prizes from the likes of Stumptown Coffee and Le Creuset. By the time Just Food’s executive director Jacquie Berger took to the stage to thank people for coming and wish us a goodnight, the entire crowd in the Altman Building was happy and full of local pride.
(Photo courtesy MetroMix 2010)