A sense of pride and purpose

Featured image
Lunch break on the steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Photo: JH.

Tuesday, April 23, 2024. A bright, sunny day, yesterday in New York, and a chilly 60 degrees midday; with the trees beginning to turn green again.

Last Thursday afternoon under the iconic glass dome of the Celeste Bartos Forum in the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, The New York Public Library hosted its annual Library Lunch.

This luncheon is an annual fundraiser supporting the Library’s mission to inspire lifelong learning, advance knowledge, and to strengthen communities. It’s what used to be called a Ladies Lunch(eon); and the women still dress for it. Not only to imply the majority of the women all looked great, smartly and comfortably but also chic. Men mainly dressed in suit and ties. It’s a moment of genuine retrospect.

The luncheon scene in the Celeste Bartos Forum in the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building.

It was an elegant event too, because of that. As well as with beautifully set tables even laid with the main/solo course — which someone defined as a Chinese vegetable salad. Elegant and alluring to one’s appetite too (and more than enough for one’s lunch).

New York Public Library President Anthony Marx welcomed the guests noting 2024 was the 42nd anniversary of this luncheon. He spoke about the Library, and the Schwarzman building which houses one of the world’s most extensive research collections for those to come together to read, learn and think. He said that “New Yorkers come to the library in larger numbers than any other civic institution.”

Event Chair, Abby S. Milstein, while reminiscing about the tradition of the lunch, traced its origins back to 1981 when she served as a volunteer. She spoke to the Library’s mission, and the importance for critical library funding in today’s world.

Abby Milstein.

It was a big crowd (tables of ten) followed by a discussion with the theme Food For Thought – a lively conversation delving into the link between food and travel, and the connections to other places and cultures. The guest panel was Chinese cuisine cook and food writer, Fuchsia Dunlop, writer and bespoke travel curator, David Prior, and Editor in Chief of Bon Appétit and Epicurious, Jamila Robinson, moderated by The New Yorker editor David Remnick.

Remnick first directed the panelist to describe their work, inviting them to delve into their personal backgrounds and their paths into the realm of food. Ms. Dunlop recounted her upbringing with an adventurous palate and a deep-seated love for cooking, all of which eventually led her on a transformative journey to China. There she found herself irresistibly drawn to the abundance of fresh, delicious, and exhilarating cuisine.

Fuchsia Dunlop, David Prior, Jamila Robinson, and David Remnick.
Fuchsia Dunlop, David Prior, and Jamila Robinson.
David Remnick.
David Prior, Jamila Robinson, Fuchsia Dunlop, and David Remnick.

Jamila Robinson attributed her deep affection for food to her grandmother: “When we write about food, we’re essentially writing about our relationships and the expression of love, and there is nothing more beautiful than that.”

The conversation transitioned to food trends when David Prior noted “Creativity has come back and chefs are looking to do exciting things, not generic things.”

And from there, the discussion turned to dream dinner companions before concluding with an exploration of the panelists’ preferred meals and the reasons driving their choices.

Deborah Royce, Daisy Prince, Darcy Rigas, Mahnaz Bartos, Zibby Owens, Abby Milstein, Louise Grunwald, David Remnick, and Nanar Yoseloff.

This year’s Lunch was co-chaired by Abigail Baratta, Mahnaz Ispahani Bartos, Louise Grunwald, Zibby Owens, Daisy Prince, David Remnick, Deborah Goodrich Royce and Nanar Yoseloff. Asprey, a partner for more than 10 years, generously sponsored the event, which has once again been presented with Literary Partner The New Yorker.

The annual Library Lunch raises critical funds for the Library’s world-renowned collections which are used daily by scholars, writers, artists and students. This access to the primary source materials as well as the great librarians and curators who steward them, forever changes their work. The support raised at this event ensures that the Library’s collections and services remain freely available to all, inspiring the next generation of great writers and scholars.

Among those in attendance: Mahnaz Ispahani Bartos (Co-Chair), Louise Grunwald (Co-Chair), Abby S. Milstein (Chair), Zibby Owens (Co-Chair), Daisy Prince (Co-Chair), Deborah Goodrich Royce (Co-Chair), Nanar Yoseloff (Co-Chair), Tony Marx (President of the New York Public Library), Steven Aronson, Candice Bergen, Katherine Boulud, Marie Brenner, Veronica Bulgari, Tory Burch, Patricia Duffy, Joan Hardy Clark, Pilar Guzman, Fern Mallis, Gillian Miniter, Shelley Mortimer, Elyse Newhouse, Peggy Noonan, Kathy Prounis, Katharine Rayner, Blaine Trump, Iris Weinshall, Tim and Nina Zagat.

L. to r.: Tory Burch; Tony Marx.
Gillian Miniter, Valerie Artzt, and Elyse Newhouse.
L. to r.: Alyssa Shelasky and Zibby Owens; Howard Morgan and Peggy Noonan.
Fuchsia Dunlop, David Prior, and Jamila Robinson.
L. to r.: Blaine Trump and Peggy Siegal; Daisy Prince and Darcy Rigas.
Candice Bergen and Louise Grunwald.
L. to r.: Anthony Ziccardi and Deborah Royce; Mahnaz Bartos.
David Remnick and Jamila Robinson.
Abby Milstein and Iris Weinshall.
Tim and Nina Zagat.
Graça Tito.

Also last Thursday, in the evening, New York City-based Tom Gold Dance concluded its 2024 Spring season at The Kaye Playhouse.

Following a performance of Tom Gold’s Lavender is all the Rage (a World Premiere), Counterpoint, and Rapid Oxidation (both revivals), the Company held its annual benefit dinner — which raised more than $116,000 — at BLT Prime.

Among this year’s benefit supporters were Katharine Rayner, Jill Kargman, Fe and Alessandro Fendi, and Gary Horowitz.

Sage Wilson (left) and Robert Mulvey in Tom Gold’s Lavender is all the Rage.
Allegra Inch in Tom Gold’s Rapid Oxidation. 
Gabriella Domini and Noah McAuslin in Tom Gold’s Counterpoint. 📸  Steven Pisano

Appearing in the spring season were dancers Gabriella Domini, Savannah Durham, Brian Gephart, Allegra Inch, Noah McAuslin, Robert Mulvey, Demi Trezona, and Sage Wilson; as well as violinists Samuel Andonian and Katherine Liccardo, violist Matthew Consul, and cellist Aaron Wolff, who provided live accompaniment of four movements from Ezio Bosso’s String Quartet No. 5Music for the Lodger to Lavender is all the Rage. Marlene Olson Hamm designed costumes for all three works. Longtime Wes Anderson set designer Carl Sprague conceived the background for Lavender is all the Rage.

The spring season opened the 2024 program calendar of Tom Gold Dance. On Saturday, June 15, the Company will perform at Untermyer Park and Gardens in Yonkers for the fourth consecutive year and will return to the Newport Dance Festival, where it debuted last summer, July 19–21. Other summer and fall plans will be announced at a later date.

William Zeckendorf, Anna Zeckendorf, Fe Fendi, Kayan Monteiro, and lessandro Saracino Fendi.
Tom Gold Dance Board of Directors Lucy Dobrin, Anna C. Coatsworth, Tom Gold Dance Executive Director Alexander Zaretsky, Patricia Mears, Tom Gold, and Linda Bicks.
Alan Wintermute and Colin Bailey.
Gabriella Domini and Noah McAuslin.
Savannah Durham and Ruby Lister.

Also: On April 15th, Barnard College hosted its Annual Gala at Cipriani 42nd Street, marking it a memorable evening highlighting this year’s theme “A Celebration of Wellness” in honor of — Helene D. Gayle ’76, MD, MPH and Francine A. LeFrak. Co-Chairs and esteemed Board of Trustees, Amy Crate ’94 and Caroline Bliss Spencer ’09, set the tone for the evening with their heartfelt welcome remarks.

More than 600 guests took their seats for the dinner program where the atmosphere was electrifying, filled with anticipation for the festivities to come. The evening featured a live auction by Lydia Fenet that raised a staggering $3.4M for student financial aid.

Lydia Fenet kicks off the evening’s auction to raise funds for financial aid.

It was all smiles and applause as the legendary Sheila Nevins ’60, presented the award to social entrepreneur and philanthropist Francine LeFrak.

Meanwhile, the dynamic Nina Shaw ’76 took to the stage to present Dr. Helene Gayle with her well-deserved accolade. Barnard College President Laura Ann Rosenbury and Board Chair Cheryl Glicker Milstein ’82 beamed with pride as they joined in the celebrations, making the night truly unforgettable!

Francine A. LeFrak expresses gratitude for her award.
Acclaimed talent attorney, Nina Shaw ’76, embraces Helene D. Gayle ’76, MD, MPH as she receives her award.

Dr. Helene D. Gayle takes the podium to receive her award.

Francine shared, “Excellence and commitment are woven into every aspect of the Francine A LeFrak Foundation Center for Well-Being. When women have the courage to take control of their finances, their mental and physical health improves, ensuring a chance for independence.”

Barnard will open the Francine A. LeFrak Foundation Center for Well-Being later this Fall.

Inspiring testimonials from Barnard students.

Dr. Gayle praised Barnard, “for giving me the determination and courage to try to be a changemaker throughout my career, and the opportunity I now have to serve as a President of a sister school where I can help to shape visions for the next generation of women[…]”.

As the night drew to a close, guests departed with a sense of pride and purpose to continue supporting the mission of the power of wellness for women to lead and excel in a rapidly changing world.

Amy Crate (Co-Chair), Francine A. LeFrak (Honoree), Laura Ann Rosenbury (President of Barnard), Dr. Helene
D. Gayle (Honoree), and Caroline Bliss Spencer (Co-Chair).

Photographs by Yvonne Tnt/BFA.com (NYPL); Sam Wachs (Tom Gold)

Recent Posts