Food for Thought

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Chefs from City Harvest Presents BID 2023: Drive-In.

City Harvest is New York’s first and largest food rescue organization, rescuing perfectly good, nutritious food that would otherwise go to waste and delivers it for free to New Yorkers experiencing hunger. Over the past 40 years, they have rescued and distributed over one BILLION pounds of food for our neighbors across the five boroughs who are struggling to put meals on the table.

City Harvest’s initiatives are many as the need for this great city of ours is great. One such initiative is Buy-A-Bag, an annual campaign to support farmers while helping to feed NYC, which is returning to GrowNYC Greenmarkets this month. Stop by the City Harvest table at the Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket on Saturday, November 11, or the 77th Street Greenmarket on Sunday, November 12, and “buy a bag” of fresh produce from the vendors to donate to City Harvest. They’ll deliver it to their partner food pantries and soup kitchens throughout the city to help feed our neighbors in need.

City Harvest also has a plethora of fun and very successful social events throughout the year, one of which is BID, its marquee tasting event, held a couple weeks back at The Glasshouse in Manhattan (this year’s theme: “Drive-In”). BID attracted more than 1,000 guests(!) raising enough to help feed nearly 4 million New Yorkers in need across the city. These funds are critically important right now, when visits to food pantries and soup kitchens are up more than 60% compared to pre-pandemic levels.

The event brought together more than 50 of New York City’s best chefs, restaurants, and mixologists. Culinary titans in attendance included Geoffrey Zakarian, Eric Ripert, Melba Wilson, Anne Burrell, Simon Kim, Markus Glocker, Hillary Sterling, Dana Cowin, Andrew Carmellini, Michael Lomonaco, Stefano Secchi, and more. Participating restaurants and mixology partners included Le Bernardin, Melba’s, Ci Siamo, Masalawala & Sons, Muddling Memories, Mexology, and more.

Guests, including Katie Couric, Karen Pittman, Tayshia Adams, Brooks Nader, Hannah Bronfman, Nick Creegan, Susie Essman, and more were immersed in the lively Drive- In theme. Celebrity Chef and Food Network Star Geoffrey Zakarian, who serves as the Chair of the City Harvest Food Council and member of its board, also hosted the exclusive VIP area, GZ’s Screening Room, for guests with stations featuring some of the New York City’s best restaurants including COTE Korean Steakhouse, Koloman, Nami Nori, Rezdôra, and Zou Zou’s.

Guests also enjoyed live entertainment by On the Move and bid on once-in-a-lifetime experiences during the live auction. Highlights from the auction included a private dinner hosted by Geoffrey Zakarian hosted at Cipriani Club 55, and an exclusive collaboration dinner prepared by Chef Stefano Secchi of Rezdôra and TV personality Andrew Zimmern.

Live entertainment by On the Move.

“Thanks to the generosity of the restaurant community, our sponsors, event co-chairs, host committee, and all the guests who joined us last night, City Harvest will be able to rescue and deliver more nutritious food for New Yorkers in need,” said Jilly Stephens, CEO of City Harvest. “This support comes at a critical time when nearly 3 million New Yorkers are struggling to make ends meet. Together, we will continue to feed our city– one day, one meal, one New Yorker at a time.”

Geoffrey Zakarian and Jilly Stephens.

“Year after year, BID proves to be the premier tasting event highlighting the best chefs, restaurateurs, and mixologists in New York City,” said Geoffrey Zakarian, City Harvest Board Member and Chair of City Harvest’s Food Council. “City Harvest has an extraordinary impact on the community, and I am thrilled to help support their mission of serving our neighbors in need.”

Event sponsors included Two Good®, XTX Markets, Capital One, DKNY, The Infatuation, Roland Foods, LLC, Empire Merchants LLC, Fidelis Care, I. Halper Paper & Supplies, WB Wood, Great Jones Distilling Co., Mandarin Oriental, New York, and SmartChoice.

For more information or to donate today, visit

Chintan Pandya and Roni Mazumdar.
Markus Glocker (right) and the Kolomon team.
Eric Ripert (center) and the team from Le Bernardin.
Herve Clermont and Christophe Namer.
Eric Schwartz, Ben Bram, and Nathan Bram.
Kerry Heffernan (center) and friends.
Marc Granetz, Alida Boer, and friend.
L. to r.: Ingrid V. Arneberg (right) and friend; Valerie Peltier and Stefano Secchi.
Anne Burrell, Melba Wilson, and Geoffrey Zakarian.
Simon Kim (right), Victoria James (second from right), Mikayla Walzog (third from right), Jacqueline Hensel (in pink), and COTE team.
Eric Holder and Eileen Feighny.
Grace Ann Nader, Brendan Fallis, Hannah Bronfman, Brooks Nader, and Mary Holland Nader.
Geoffrey Zakarian, Ron Ben-Israel, Ariane Daguin, Eric Ripert, and Michael Lomonaco.
Matt Katakis (center) and team from Butcher Bar.
Cesare Casella, Alfred Portale, and Michael Lomonaco.
Helen Nguyen (center) and Andrew Carmellini (right).
Denevin Miranda and friend.
Eitan Bernath, Noah Schultz, and Herb Karlitz.
Dan Churchill (second from left), Ron Ben-Israel (center), and guests.
Christine Anwander Calzolano, Kim Cooper, and Sugie Hong Bruttomesso.
Kim Cooper, Angela Stulley, Shirley Madhere-Weil, Eric Ripert, Ramona Singer, Sandra Ripert, and Orin Wilf.
Jim Kallman, Alison Kallman, and Bill Koenigsberg.
Jim Harder (second from left), Susie Essman (third from left) and friends.
Nick Creegan.
Christine Yi and friend.
Board members and donors of City Harvest, including Chef Eric Ripert and Jilly Stephens.

More food for thought. The Teens for Food Justice (TFFJ) just held their  2023 Gala at the Lighthouse at Pier 61, Chelsea Piers, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the organization and support its ongoing efforts to make fresh food more accessible and improve nutritional health within New York City and Denver’s low-income communities through school-based, youth-led hydroponic farming.

The Gala featured artist and Emcee Ariana DeBose and celebrity chef Melba Wilson (as you can tell, she really cares about food insecurity). The Honorees at the 2023 Gala were Randy Stern (Teens for Food Justice Champion) and Alyssa Gardner-Vazquez (Distinguished TFFJ Alumna). The auction and fundraising was conducted by C K Swett.

Ariana DeBose.

Students construct the hydroponic farms and grow the crops as part of their STEM classes. Each farm can produce up to 10,000lbs of fresh produce per year.  As one TFFJ farmer puts it, “Healthy eating should be a right”.  TFFJ’s target by the end of 2024 is to operate 10 farms involving 26 schools and feeding some 13,000 students.

The 2023 Gala raised almost $950,000 and counting.

Randy Stern and Katherine Soll.
Alyssa Gardner-Vazquez.

Notable attendees included: Ariana DeBose, Melba Wilson, Randy Stern, Alyssa Gardner-Vazquez, Katherine Soll, Tara Swibel, Erich Bergen, Selvena N. Brooks-Powers, Alisha Antonetti, Sanniyah Watson, and Namar Antoine.

CK Swett.

Teens for Food Justice (TFFJ) operates high-capacity hydroponic farms on six school campuses across four New York City boroughs and in Denver, Colorado.

TFFJ students use real-world 21st-century science and technology to grow up to 10,000 pounds (per school) of hydroponic produce annually. Through the program, TFFJ’s young farmers develop a meaningful solution to food insecurity, transform their relationship with the food they eat, and develop cutting-edge STEM skills needed in a new green sector economy.

For more information, please visit

Alisha Antonetti, Sanniyah Watson, Ariana DeBose, Kayla Briley Barner, and Namar Antoine.
Melba Wilson.
Erich Bergen and Ariana DeBose.
Will Stern, Randy Stern, Evan Rosenberg, and Marc Robinson.
Nadja Sayej.
Paul Thomas, Selvena Brooks-Powers, and Jack Seigenthaler.
Dr. Keeda Cummings, Sanniyah Watson, Kayla Briley Barner, Jeorgina Williams, Aliya Brown, and Rakiyah Ferguson.
Shana Koransky, Justin Goldner, Corina Curtis, Bill Barclay, and Liana Stampur.
Roxana and Eliot Spitzer.

Photographs by Eric Vitale & Lori Cannava (City Harvest); Paul Bruinooge/PMC (Teens for Food Justice).

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