Despite the rain, the crowds poured in at Citymeals-on-Wheels Chef's Tribute fundraiser in Rockefeller Center last night. This year's theme -- Crème de la Crème, a tribute to the great French masters, many of whom were in attendance. As one might expect, honoring the world's best French chefs includes a large quantity of foie gras, caviar, duck, and truffles, and America's top chefs certainly put them all to good use. Each chef prepared two dishes: one classic dish as a tribute to a French master, and one of his/her own that was a variation on a French classic.
David Burke paid tribute to André Daugin with a savory warm Kumamoto Oyster with Duck Gizzards and Crispy Duck Tongue; San Francisco's Traci des Jardins gave a nod to Pierre Troisgros with a luxurious Foie Gras, Lobster and Truffle Salad; Terrance Brennan honored Roger Vergé with a Stuffed Zucchini Blossom with Basil Sauce; and Jean-Georges Vongerichten saluted Louis Outhier with Egg Caviar that had guests lined up by the table most of the evening. All in all, over 35 chefs and several high profile mixologists (including Audrey Saunders of the Pegu Club and Jim Meehan of Please Don't Tell) showcased dishes and drinks. Chef Tom Colicchio spent a good deal of his evening signing autographs and taking photos with avid Top Chef fans; hopefully they also sampled his braised pork with smoked onions and tomato molasses -- it was melt-in-your-mouth tender.
Last year's event raised over $1.2 million to provide meals to New York City’s homebound elderly, and with over 1000 guests attending this year, much-needed support will be provided this year as well. Citymeals was founded by Gael Greene (who was in attendance in a red sequined sailor's hat) and the late James Beard.