Showing posts with label volunteer opportunity. Show all posts
Showing posts with label volunteer opportunity. Show all posts


AWESOME ALERT: Star Chef's Rising Stars Gala

Out of all of the events I attend every year, there is one that has stood out as "my most looked forward to." That's a pretty high honor in my book since NYC is the land of fabulous events. I'll give you a little back story. After moving here in August 2008, I did a little soul searching and decided that Craigslist was the way to go for everything - an apartment, extra hangers, side jobs and whatever else I could find that seemed intriguing. I found a listing for volunteers needed at a food event. Sure, I say, and sign myself up figuring I'd meet some new people as well.

So I showed up for my assigned post at the Park Avenue Armory for the International Chef's Congress hosted by an organization called Star Chefs. I learned that it was a conference looked forward to every year by chefs from across the city where they can network, present cooking demos and walk through a gigantic trade show. I spent the afternoon putting together VIP gift bags, and what do you know, but there were extras at the end of the day and I got to take one home. BEST GIFT BAG OF MY LIFE. Honestly, I think this is when I started my infatuation with gift bags to see if any could ever measure up again. Here were some of the contents: Wusthof Chef's Knife (valued around $90), a container of Foie Gras, coupons for free drinks at Nespresso Cafe on Park Ave., a Microplane zester, and many other items that I was thrilled about. But the best was yet to come.

I had also signed up to work the Rising Stars Gala, held on a Tuesday night at the American Museum of Natural History. Basically, I stood in front of the giant front entrance pointing people the way to the VIP reception in the front lobby area for about an hour, and was then told to enjoy the event. (VIP reception = Petrossian caviar and Champagne by the way). If you've ever watched an episode of Top Chef, this event tops any of their tastings on that show. Walking into the enormous whale room of the museum, I was overwhelmed by the table upon table of gourmet tastings - pork belly, filet mignon, foie gras, tuna tartare, seared scallops - each paired with a different wine. Then there were mixology tables and several pastry chefs in attendance with some sweet samples. That was two years ago.

Last year, I again volunteered at the event, held on the top level of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel overlooking Central Park. And this year, I went a little further out of my way to Liberty State Park for my third Rising Stars Gala. Held at the venue Maritime Parc, the event honored some of the most promising young chefs in the city from some amazing restaurants including Craft, Sorella and Aureole. This gala is a way to showcase their work and sort of debut them to the supportive culinary community and celebrate their successes. The thing about volunteering, is that when you're done helping out, you get to enjoy an event with a $165 ticket price, gratis. Also, I met Tom Colicchio - pretty much the most exciting moment of the night! I'll note some of my favorite dishes below. I gave major props on the eco-friendly dish-ware! I included more pictures than usual in this blog, but words just can't describe the awesomeness of this event. Happy salivating!

I had to take the ferry to Liberty State Park and the view over the water was just too gorgeous.
Ms. Liberty and Ellis Island with a ferry in the foreground.
My requisite "I'm on a Boat" picture
Lower Manhattan from the ferry.
Approaching the New Jersey side
Champagne servers at the VIP reception
Petrossian caviar served at the VIP reception
Me with the program, Champagne in hand
Marina view from the event
Chris Siversen (Maritime Parc)
Brined New Zealand King Salmon, Fennel Kraut, and Mustard-Leek Risotto (Chris Siversen - Maritime Parc)
Rabbit and Hudson Valley Foie Gras Terrine, Candied Rhubarb and Shiso Vinaigrette (Brandon Kida - Asiate)
An amazing drink! The Strawberry Blonde (Brad Farran - The Clover Club)
Pate di Fegato: Chicken Liver Mousse with Candied Bacon and Fried Egg VOTED AUDIENCE FAVORITE (Emma Hearst  Sorella)
Mixologist Jason Littrell from Dram lighting things on fire.
Wagyu Strip Loin, Potato Terrine, Matsutakes, Black Garlic and Bone Marrow (Justin Bogle - Gilt)
Australian Lamb Neck, Pea Shoots, Syrian Aleppo Pepper, Greek Yogurt and Lamb Jus (Bobby Hellen - Resto)
Seared scallop with peas (Marc Forgione - Marc Forgione)
Greg Seider from the Summit Bar making my favorite drink of the night "She Loves Mei, She Loves Mei Not." It had rose petals in it! And pisco!
Definitely in the top 2 - Cauliflower custard, Santa Barbara Uni, Golden Trout Roe, and Squid Ink Emulsion (Jason Hall - Gotham Bar & Grill)
Me with Chef Tom Colicchio from Top Chef!
Thanks to new friends Lily and Jeff for some of those last couple shots after my camera died! Note to self: ALWAYS recharge camera battery before this event, and double check. If only the event wasn't on a school night, I would have totally hit up the after party at the newly-opened and buzzed about Nuela. Oh well. I'll definitely be back next year, volunteering of course. Let me know if you're interested in joining and I might be able to hook you up :)


Who Says You Can't Be Paid in Food?

Ah volunteering. The best way to get free stuff in my experience. And with all of these high end events happening in NYC practically every day, there's sure to be an event that piques your interest and offers substantial awesome value.

One such event that I salivate over every year, though the expense has been a persistent hurdle to my attendance, is the New York City Wine and Food Festival. Practically every star chef, baker, mixologist and sommelier will be cooking, chopping, pureeing and most importantly feeding the masses at many specialize seminars and demonstrations throughout the Columbus Day weekend festival.

Here's the good news for you if you didn't RSVP for some of these events back in April or can't really justify spending $400 on a one-hour event, you can volunteer. Fill out the form and if you're lucky enough to be contacted you may be doing some heavy lifting or gift-bag packing (if you're super lucky there might be an extra for you to take home!), but you'll get to hobnob with Food Network chefs, sample elegant and tasty culinary wonders and get a discount code to attend an event.

I wouldn't wait if I were you to fill out that form because I'm sure these spots will fill up fast. If you happen to snag one, come back and share the awesomeness in a comment :)