Tuesday, February 19, 2019

The Journey is Everything

St. Patrick's Cathedral. 2:00 PM. Photo: JH.
Tuesday, February 19, 2019. Rainy, sometimes sunny, sometimes overcast quiet 3 day-weekend in New York, with temperatures in the 40s, reading up to the 50s briefly. Yesterday morning I noticed the witch hazel in Carl Schurz Park was blooming yellow, the first sign of Spring to this weather-watcher. The city was holiday quiet and many who left town, I am told, would be on holiday for the rest of the week because the girls’ schools in the neighborhood are on vacation.

The social calendar has been noticeably quiet although it looks like it’s about to heat up some. Last Saturday a week, the Lycée Français de New York held its 20th annual Gala at 6 PM at “Skylight on Vesey,” a downtown locationThe school’s most important annual fund-raising event raised over $2 million for its need-based scholarship program.
Atmosphere at Lycée Français de New York Gala 2019 - Honoring Hamdi Ulukaya at Skylight on Vesey
The Lycée is an independent bilingual French private school from pre-kindergarten to 12th grade. Its student body numbers more than 1300 representing 45 different nationalities. Students can earn a high school diploma and/or a special Franco-American Baccalaureate (BF).  It was founded in the mid-1930s by the French Consul General in New York, Comte Chares de Ferry de Fontnouvelle. It’s curriculum  is the French academic program. Although I knew little about the school, I’ve known several people of different ages who’ve attended.  To this out-of-towner, it was just another one of the excellent private schools here in New York, except the students also spoke and studied French.

For many years it was located in two beautiful late 19th century mansions on East 72nd Street just off Fifth Avenue. A number of years ago those houses were sold to the Sultan of Qatar and refurbished into a private residence. The Lycée moved to York Avenue and 73rd Street to a brand new building designed designed by a New York architect firm Polshek Partnership Architects.
The old Lycée on 72nd Street, which now belongs to the Sultan of Qatar.
The new Lycée on 73rd and York.
The gala at the “Skylight on Vesey” gathered close to 900 guests for the fundraising evening. The alumni continue to honor their especial pre-college education. This year the Lycée Gala 2019 theme was  “La vie devant soi: The Journey is Everything," celebrating “the courage, hard work and optimism of all those who have a dream and endeavor to bring it to life.”

The featured speaker was Lycée alumnaAline Sara. Her organization, NaTakallam, is a social enterprise dedicated to giving refugees the opportunity to work by teaching language remotely. Since starting in 2015, NaTakallam has paired almost 130 displaced persons and more than 4500 individuals in more than 65 countries who have engaged in more than 20,000 hours of NaTakallam sessions.
Paul Sara, Nada Sara, Aline Sara, Albert Sara, and Gabriel Sara
With the Statue of Liberty as a backdrop, the Lycée honored Hamdi Ulukaya, Founder and CEO of Chobani.

Mr. Ulukaya is a Turkish immigrant who came to the US in 1994 and has become a celebrated entrepreneur and humanitarian.

Mr. Ulukaya was presented with the Charles de Ferry de Fontnouvelle Award. In less than five years after launching Chobani, the company became the No. 1–selling Greek Yogurt brand in the U.S. Since day one, he has always made helping people and having a positive impact on communities a priority for the company, especially those in New York and Idaho, where its products are made.
Hamdi  and Louise Ulukaya
Marie Audier D'Alessandris, Patricia de Picciotto, Ana MC Razzouk, and Candace McDonald
“Hamdi Ulukaya is a model of leadership for our students," said Audrey Peverelli, Head of LFNY. In addition to his considerable business success, through his foundation, the Tent Partnership for Refugees, he has built a coalition of global companies committed to improving the lives and livelihoods of more than 25 million refugees forcibly displaced from their home countries.

Led this year by co-chairs Marie Audier d'Alessandris, Candace McDonald, Patricia de Picciotto and Ana MC Razzouk, among the prominent alums attending were Veronica Bulgari, Anne-Claire Legendre (French Consul General in New York), Susan Fales Hill, Jean Reno, Yves Attal, chef Eric Ripert, Elisabeth Holder Raberin, Agathe Mordacq. Also in the crowd: French film director Yves Attal; Jason Beckman and Fabiola Beracasa­Beckman; Alain Bernard, 
Camille Bidermann Roizen, 
Claudia Fleming Bitar; Hériard Dubreuil, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Marieline Grinda, Craig Fillipacchi
m, Vivien David Jones, Marc Lévy, 
Bénédicte de Montlaur, Cultural Counselor to the French Embassy in the United States, Laure­Adelaide and Renaud de Lesquen, Alexandra and Nicolas Mirzayantz de Grèce, Sylvie Morgon, Marie­Noëlle Pierce,
Elisabeth Holder and Pierre Antoine Raberin, Eric Ripert, Charlotte Sarkozy, Jacob Paltrow and Taryn Simon; Ezra Zilkha.

Committed to bilingual French and American education of the highest standard, the Lycée aims to prepare students of many origins to be thinkers, innovators and leaders, at home in the world and prepared to make a positive difference in the lives of others. Graduates attend top colleges and universities in the U.S., France, Canada, and around the world.
Michel Brogard, Audrey Peverelli, Gerard Peverelli, and Marie-Monique Steckel
Marieline Grinda, Ahmad Deek, and Benjamine Valle Susan Fales-Hill and Veronica Bulgari
Thibaut Pizenberg, Emilie Pizenberg, Audrey Peverelli, and Gerard Peverelli
Ana MC Razzouk and Laura Sebag
Elisabeth Holder, Karine Jones, Charlotte Sarkozy, and Pauline Levy
Ezra Zilkha, Donna Zilkha, and Donald Zilkha
Benjamine Valle and Guilherme Valle Tolède-Premutico and Fadwa Robb
Mera Khodara, Gregory Khodara, and Claire Khodara
Patrick de Picciotto, Patricia de Picciotto, Nicole Goletka, and Andrew Goletka
Isabelle Sajous, Petal Modeste, and Susan Fales-Hill
Alexandre Crazover, Rhoddy Rapson, and Dolores Crazover
Heather Mordacq and Edouard Klehe Pascale Richard and Cheus Bures
Ranika Cohen, Ruben Cohen, Craig Filipacchi, and Tara Wilkinson
Candace McDonald, Marie Audier D'Alessandris, Ana MC Razzouk, and Patricia de Picciotto
Which, speaking of Turkish, JH and I had one of our lunch meetings in the nabe last week, on the day when a big winter storm was forecast (but wasn’t so big  after all). With that in mind, we stayed on the UES. “Where” is always the question because I like the familiar (obviously – between Michael’s and Sette Mezzo), but JH likes variety and even more exotic food.

And so, keeping me in mind and satisfying his own palate, he suggested USKUDAR, a Turkish restaurant on 73rd and Second Avenue. Because he’s been there and left very satisfied a number of times, he knew we could find both. I wasn’t sure, naturally, knowing nothing about Turkish cuisine. However, I soon found out what JH knew, I was familiar with some very familiar Turkish dishes, such as shish-kebab. The real thing, of course.
Ukudar on 2nd Avenue Between 73rd & 74th Streets.
An amazing menu for variety, several selections which JH chose, I learned that they’ve been in the same location since 1987 (!!) to back up their reputation – a landmark restaurant in a neighborhood of frequently changing restaurant businesses. We even met the managing partner Jacob Beri and his chef/partner Ibrahim Ozdemir whom Mr. Beri introduced as having been there for twenty years. “Twenty-two!” Ozdemir corrected.
Managing Partner Jacob Beri and Chef/Partner Ibrahim Ozdemir came out to say a quick hello.
I started with the Red Lentil Soup, which I’d never had before (buttery and delicious); followed by the chicken-shish and a cup of Turkish black tea (also something I’d never had before). JH ordered a variety including the hummus, the pan-fried zucchini pancakes (also delicious – served with dollop of yogurt), and the Chicken Adana. Everything was polished off with fresh Baklava (walnuts and pistachio). Excellent. And very reasonable, almost more than you can eat, and all wholesome and healthy.
A cup of Turkish tea.
The red lentil soup.
The hummus.
Pan-fried zucchini pancakes known as MÜCVER.
A dip into the labne.
Chicken Shish skewered with onions, peppers, tomatoes, side of rice & vegetables.
Chicken Adana --- chargrilled & skewered ground chicken with roasted bell peppers, side of rice & onions.
Baklava for the road!
Photographs by Sylvain Gaboury/PMC (Lysee Francais)

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