City Harvest’s Annual Gala: The Magic of Motown

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The packed house at Cipriani 42nd Street for City Harvest's annual Gala.

City Harvest, New York City’s first and largest food rescue organization, recently hosted its annual gala, themed the Magic of Motown, hosted by actor Taye Diggs.

Held at Cipriani 42nd Street, the evening raised enough to help provide over 10 million meals for New Yorkers in need as they continue to grapple with high costs for rent, food, and other necessities in the city.


Taye Diggs kicks off the evening.

The event honored two of the organization’s longtime supporters: award-winning musician, entrepreneur, and activist John Legend; and philanthropist and New York Mets owner Alex Cohen. Both honorees have been instrumental in supporting City Harvest’s food rescue and delivery work over the years, including helping the organization sustain operations above pre-pandemic levels in response to the need for food assistance.

John Legend has been a dedicated supporter of City Harvest for years, raising awareness of food insecurity and supporting the organization’s work, including its response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Through his deep commitment, Legend has helped provide millions of meals to New Yorkers struggling to make ends meet.


Honoree Alex Cohen.
Honoree John Legend with wife and former City Harvest honoree Chrissy Teigen.

Alex Cohen gifted the organization a $20 million donation from the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation in 2021, which funded the establishment of a new headquarters for its food rescue and delivery operations in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. The Cohen Community Food Rescue Center empowers City Harvest to rescue, store, and distribute twice as much food across the five boroughs and ensures that the organization will be able to continue distributing nutritious food for free to New Yorkers for decades to come.

As City Harvest’s first neighborhood sponsor in 2018, the Foundation’s grant funded all deliveries of rescued food in the Washington Heights and Inwood Manhattan neighborhoods, including City Harvest’s two Mobile Markets there, providing residents with 2 million pounds of free nutritious food a year. The Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation also supported City Harvest’s COVID-19 response work with multiple gifts throughout the pandemic to ensure the organization could elevate operations as the number of New Yorkers experiencing food insecurity across the city surged alongside the pandemic.


Geoffrey Zakarian, Richard Gere, Sandra Ripert, Alejandra Gere, Eric Ripert, Alex Cohen, Chrissy Teigen, Jilly Stephens, and John Legend.

“I am grateful to the hundreds of supporters who joined us in honoring John Legend and Alex Cohen at City Harvest’s annual Gala,” said Jilly Stephens, CEO of City Harvest. “Visits to soup kitchens and food pantries across the five boroughs are almost as high as they were at any point during the pandemic, and are actually increasing compared to last year. The critical funds we raised will allow us to provide free, nutritious food to the millions of New Yorkers who are struggling to put meals on their tables.”

The event featured décor by world-renowned celebrity event planner Colin Cowie, and included appearances by: Chrissy Teigen, Eric Ripert, Gail Simmons, Geoffrey Zakarian, Jane Krakowski, Richard Gere, Busy Philipps, Desus Nice, Tayshia Adams, Ted Allen, Tom Colicchio, Vikas Khanna, Yaya DaCosta, Ubah Hassan, Markus Glocker, Simon Kim, David Rockwell, Stefano Secchi, Alain Allegretti, Alfred Portale, Basu Ratnam, Cey Adams, Christophe Bellanca, Cody Goldstein, Colin Cowie, Joshua Bell, Philippe Quint, Donatella Arpaia, Eitan Bernath, Emma Bengtsson, ake Cohen, Jean Reno, Cedric and Ochi Vongerichten, Priyanka Naik, Rick Smilow, Terrance Brennan, and others.


City Harvest Gala Co-Chairs.
Members of City Harvest’s Generation Harvest.

The spirited and always much-anticipated auction was led by Harry Santa-Olalla.

● A “Top Chef” Dinner Cooked By Tom Colicchio, Gail Simmons, and New Host Kristen Kish. This unique opportunity was for an exclusive four-course dinner for 20, prepared by the reigning “Top Chef” judging trio and includes a Cardinal DuFour Armagnac tasting, featuring a one-of-a-kind bottle painted by American artist Shane Guffogg. The epicurean experience raised enough to feed nearly 280,000 New Yorkers in need.

Chrissy Teigen was one of two recipients of a dinner party for 20 guests with globally renowned culinary superstar Chef Vikas Khanna of Bungalow. The auction lot doubled, together raising enough to feed more than 580,000 New Yorkers in need.


Harry Santa-Olalla, Vikas Khanna, and Jimmy Rizvi during the live auction.

● Dinner for 20 with Chef Markus Glocker, the highly-esteemed pedigreed powerhouse known for his New York Times three-starred restaurant, Koloman, and his James Beard award-winning Michelin-starred run at Bâtard. The intimate dinner party will include an all-star food and wine team, including the renowned Chefs Laurent Gras, Max Natmessnig of Brooklyn Fare, Gotham Restaurant’s Ron Paprocki, and Christopher Engel of Café Sabarsky in the Neue Galerie, along with the illustrious Sommelier Pascaline Lepeltier of Chambers and Koloman’s distinguished beverage director, Katja Scharnagl, formerly of Le Bernardin. The evening includes live musical performances by world-renowned classical musicians Joshua Bell and Philippe Quint. The auction lot raised enough to feed more than 313,000 New Yorkers in need.

● Tasting Tour of Toscana with Chef Stefano Secchi, chef and partner of Michelin-starred Rezdôra in New York City. The winner, along with seven guests, will be taken on a four-night journey to discover the exquisite cuisines of Dario Cecchini, Antica Macelleria Cecchini, and Fabbio Picchi, amongst many more, while sipping the sweet, intoxicating delights of the region. The experience raised enough to feed more than 523,000 New Yorkers in need.


Stefano Secchi.

● Chef Eric Ripert, the master of seafood, will host a private dinner, which will include a special private performance by John Legend, for 20 lucky guests. The legendary evening raised enough to feed more than 1.8 million New Yorkers in need.


Eric Ripert and John Legend.

The evening’s co-chair committee included Alida Boer and Jason Carroll, Colin Cowie and Danny Peuscovich, Heather Crosby Mnuchin, Valerie and Timothy Doherty, Alejandra and Richard Gere, Stephanie Goldman Rosen and Steven Rosen, Shirley Madhere-Weil and Michael Weil, Kristen and Patrick McMahon, Missy Pool, Sandra and Eric Ripert, and Chrissy Teigen.


Performances by On the Move …



Event sponsors included Too Good & Co.TM, XTX Markets, Horizon Media, Sharebite, I. Halper Paper & Supplies, Mandarin Oriental, New York, and Tequila Tierra Noble.

The event was produced by Josh Wood Productions with performances by On The Move Entertainment and music by DJ Martial Simon.

For more information on City Harvest, please visit: www.cityharvest.org


Simon Kim, Tom Colicchio, Alfred Portale, Gail Simmons, and Kerry Heffernan.
Yaya DaCosta, Lauren Levinson, Medusa Evora, and Shirley Madhere-Weil.
L. to r.: Tayshia Adams; Desus Nice.
Matthew Baldwin, Kathleen McCarthy, Lauren Secchi and friend, and Stefano Secchi.
Eric Ripert and Eric Holder.
Steven Rosen and Stephanie Goldman.
Craig and Jamie Dunton.
Katie Workman and friends.
L. to r.: Vikas Khanna and Sandra Ripert; Stephanie Goldman and Shirley Madhere-Weil.
Pam Kaufmann (r.) and friends.
Tim Doherty and Valerie Doherty.
Erica and Eric Schwartz.
Michael and Meghan Young.
Kathleen McCarthy and Matthew Baldwin.
Jimmy Rizvi, Eric Ripert, and Vikas Khanna.
Alida Boer and Jason Carroll.
David Rockwell, Jane Krakowski, Sandra Ripert, Andrew Saffir, and Daniel Benedict.
Geoffrey Zakarian and Ted Allen.
Gail Simmons and Busy Philipps.
Chiun-Kai Shih, Ubeh Hassan, Missy Pool, Eric Holder, Fran Malis, and friend.
Joe Campanale, Victoria James, Eitan Bernath, and Jacqueline Hensel.
Shirley Madhere-Weil, Yaya DaCosta, and Madusa Evora.
Pam Kaufmann and guests.
Eric Schwartz and guests.
Ubeh Hassan and Chiun-Kai Shih.
DJ Martial Simon.
Sandra Ripert joins the performers.

Photographs by Lori Cannava, Getty Images, & Eric Vitale

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