Do a love of food and a love of conservation go hand-in-hand? Absolutely, according to four of New York City’s hottest chefs and nearly 400 guests who attended the benefit, Wild at Heart: Cooking Up a Sustainable Life on Tribecca Rooftop, Wednesday, March 30.
“Anyone who’s ever gone to an apple orchard and eaten a freshly picked apple knows that fresh food tastes better,” said NBC Universal’s Jason Giagrande, one of the four chefs who designed a menu of sustainable plates for the event. His sentiment was spot on. Whether guests were savoring delectable dishes or discussing the beneficiary of the event, The Nature Conservancy’s Heart of the Adirondacks project, freshness was the evening’s resounding theme.
Tasting stations featured local, seasonal and organic ingredients. In Giagrande’s dish, a bevy of local veggies complemented multi-grain pasta. Joey Camapanaro (The Little Owl, Market Table) used pigs raised in Upstate New York for his savory roasted pork with potato, fennel and dandelion salad. New England crabs starred in Jimmy Bradley’s (The Red Cat) Peeky Toe Crab Salad, and Jonathan Waxman (Restaurant) showcased raw, shaved vegetables in his Insalata Crudi.
“A lot of people go to the market and say, ‘I want to use [these ingredients],” Waxman said. “But I like to go to the market and let the vegetables talk to me.”
As guests delighted in the dishes, they were treated to music from the Back Porch Society and DJ Vinyl Richie, and bid on auction items that included products and services as wide ranging as a getaway with Small Luxury Hotels of the World to a private event catered by the evening's four celebrity chefs to a full LASEK procedure from Park Avenue LASEK. They were also surrounded by décor that fittingly echoed the Adirondack Park. Proceeds from the event will support The Nature Conservancy’s monumental Heart of the Adirondacks project, a globally important forest and freshwater conservation effort that balances ecology and human economy in New York’s Adirondacks. Through this 175,600-acre project, the Conservancy is linking some 860,000 protected acres within a landscape that offers hope for meaningful preservation of a forest type that historically has suffered more abuses than any other on earth.
“[To be a conservationist,] you need to get your hands in the soil,” Giagrande said, lamenting that in New York City, it can be hard to feel connected to the conservation movement. Which is why, he said, he was so thrilled to be a part of the Conservancy’s event. “New York is a lot bigger place than just Manhattan.”
Special thanks to...
Our Host Committee
Akshay Arora; James A. Attwood, Jr.; Richard S. Berry and Lucy A. Commoner; David Birnbaum & Jennifer Dunkl; Carol and John Fox; Carson and Joseph Gleberman; Karen K. Hsu; Tom and Valerie Rosenberg; Andrew Rosenthal & Shari Levine; Perry and Stephanie Vais; Anonymous (2)
Our Corporate Sponsors
Hudson River Sponsor: Time Warner Cable
High Peaks Sponsor: Covanta Energy
Follensby Pond Sponsor: McKinsey & Company; Sullivan & Cromwell LLP;
Blue Ledges Sponsor: BlueMountain Capital Management LLP; Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co.; Newmark Knight Frank
Cedar River Sponsor: Fox Rothschild LLP, Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP
Our 2011 Benefit Committee
Josh Abdulla - Jacqueline Ahern - Akshay Arora* - Gia Baker - Nate Caress - Serena Chen* - Eugenia Choi* - Erica Chu - Eliza Cooney* - Elizabeth Fastiggi - Eva Hsu - Jin Jin Huang* - Chloe Jones - Jennifer Kellogg - Jared Licina* - Nikole Loayza - Erin McKinnon Stone - David Nicola* - Joel Papo* - Pamela Piccola-Fales - Danielle Polebaum - Matthew Powers - Katelyn Ristau - James Riviezzo* - Thomas Rosenberg* (YP Ambassador) - Gayle Schmidt* - Melinda Seli - Katie Tweed - Scott Unruh - Tom van Arsdall - Mark Woloszyn* - Wendy Yu*
He started his cooking career in Hawaii, then attended cooking school in Paris at the prestigious La Varenne. After working in France, he returned to the US and started his career at the Domaine Chandon Winery in Napa Valley.
Jonathan then went on to grace such prestigious kitchens as Chez Panisse in Berkeley and was appointed the head chef at the pivotal restaurant, Michael’s in Santa Monica. Waxman went on to open his own restaurant in New York City – Jams, and in London as well as the famed Washington Park. Today, Waxman is the chef and owner of Barbuto in Manhattan's West Village. His first cookbook, A Great American Cook, was published in 2007.
Giving back is important to Waxman and he works closely with many charities including City Meals on Wheels. He currently lives in Manhattan with his wife and three children. He has participated in Top Chef Masters on Bravo, surviving to the penultimate show. Jonathan's new book entitled Italian My Way is to be published by Simon & Schuster and released April 5th this year. Jonathan has consulted for American Airlines, Universal Studios, and catered many events including MTV video awards, President Clinton's birthday and the Rolling Stones.
Jimmy Bradley opened The Red Cat in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood in 1999. Running against the trend toward “BBD” eateries, The Red Cat eschewed the very notion of “concept” with a down-to-Earth setting in which to offer diners something refreshing for the times: outstanding food and crackerjack, attitude-free service. The Red Cat was, and remains, defined by this deceptively simple, still-novel approach.
It is also defined by Bradley’s menu. The chef, who had cooked and eaten in the restaurants of his native New England, as well as throughout the United States and Europe, took his lead from the places to which he had always gravitated himself. “No matter where I’ve lived, worked, or traveled, there’s always been a special restaurant, a can-do joint that is, in hospitality terms, all things to all people,” says Bradley, describing “gathering places where you can drop in for a drink or a meal at the bar, or sit down in a dining room that’s perfect for just about any occasion—places that exude camaraderie, where you can gather with friends to end the day, or spend an evening.”
After the style of such restaurants, The Red Cat offers guests food that is straightforward, satisfying, and occasionally irreverent—such as a quick sauté of zucchini and almonds; steamed and roasted manila clams in a potent, garlicky broth; a simple skillet roast of chicken with seasonally changing accompaniments; and a vitello tonnato that augments the original with fresh tuna instead of canned.
Like a sleeper film that draws a blockbuster crowd on its way to becoming a classic, The Red Cat’s popularity was instantaneous, and ever-expanding. The New York Times bestowed a rapturous one-star review on the restaurant in its opening year, and in 2005, upgraded its status to two-stars.
In October 2001, Bradley launched The Harrison—a sister restaurant to The Red Cat, with a slightly more fancified vibe—in Tribeca. Although each project is unique, collectively they reflect Bradley’s innate sense of hospitality, menu design, and creativity.
After attending the University of Rhode Island, Bradley worked in some of Philadelphia and Rhode Island’s top kitchens before becoming executive chef of Savoir Fare, a progressive Martha’s Vineyard bistro where he began his trademark style of boldly flavored seasonal food. He made the most of his winter sabbaticals away from the restaurant, broadening his culinary skills and visiting his family’s Piedmont winery to learn about viticulture and experience Italy’s regional cooking.
Bradley has been featured in New York Magazine, Food & Wine, Bon Appétit, and the New York Times, and on television on The Today Show and The CBS Saturday Early Show. His first cookbook, The Red Cat Cookbook, was published by Clarkson Potter in 2006.
Joey Campanaro was raised in an Italian-American household in Philadelphia where the food of his childhood inspired him to make cooking his vocation. With a culinary approach firmly rooted in his Italian grandmother’s kitchen and honed in a range of America’s top restaurants, Joey brings a lifelong affinity for Mediterranean cuisine to every dish he creates.
As a dishwasher at a seasonal restaurant on the Jersey Shore, he was instantly hooked by the fraternal, energetic nature of restaurant life. While majoring in restaurant management at Penn State, Joey spent an inspiring semester in Italy, studying early Etruscan architecture and culture and exploring the bounty of the country’s simple and deeply satisfying food. A few years later Joey traveled to France, where he studied winemaking and further developed his skills with Mediterranean cuisine.
When he returned home, Joey began to cook the pure, uncomplicated flavors he’d learned to use while in Europe. His pursuit took him to restaurants in Philadelphia, Los Angeles and New York, where he worked alongside esteemed chefs Neil Murphy, Joachim Splichal, Jimmy Bradley and Jonathan Waxman. While in Los Angeles, Joey was also chef de cuisine of Universal Studio’s Executive Dining Room and the proprietor of his own Hollywood-based catering company.
In 2001, Joey moved back to New York to open The Harrison in Tribeca. As executive chef, Joey’s devotion to the kitchen won the hearts of New York diners and, in December 2001, a two-star review from The New York Times. In 2004, Joey became the executive chef of an Italian restaurant in Tribeca called Pace. After Pace, Joey re-opened his catering business, Blackfoot Consulting, and set out to open the restaurant he had always dreamed of opening – The Little Owl, which has since received wide acclaim from critics and guests alike, including a two-star review from The New York Times, appearances on everything from Iron Chef America to the Today Show and the Martha Stewart Show, and a continued buzz as one of New York’s most exciting restaurants.
Even with the success of The Little Owl (and its sister restaurant Market Table at which Joey is partners with chef and owner Mike Price), Joey continues to cater and consult for some of the biggest names in the country, including Martha Stewart, Mike Piazza, NBC Universal, Conde Nast Publishing and TOD’s. His enthusiasm, professionalism, and, of course, his cooking make him a one of the most sought after food personalities in New York. In the spring of 2010, Joey opened Kenmare in New York’s Nolita neighborhood with hospitality veterans Nur Khan, Paul Sevigny and Lou Ceruzzi. In late fall 2010, he opened the Village Belle with his brother Lou in their hometown of Philadelphia.
Joey cooks the food he loves, focusing on the freshest seasonal ingredients combined with the bold, rich flavors of the Mediterranean and a few tricks he learned from his grandmother.
Jason Giagrande's love and respect for food came from watching his grandmother expertly whipping up fantastic meals in his family’s home. This, along with his natural attention to detail and exceptional hospitality, has lead him in many different directions— all unerringly towards who he is today— one of the most sought after people in the highly competitive world of Events and Food Service Operations.
With his humble beginnings working at a local bar and grill in his youth, then moving on to the NYC night life scene, and eventually on to an obstacle course of his own businesses that included everything from construction companies to restaurants, Jason's found a way to weave all his experiences and his ever expanding knowledge into an expansive industry package. Referring to his conceptualizing and management of events for some of the leading entertainment, content, and fashion industry companies, Jason’s been quoted as saying, “I love the challenge of putting together events that entertain the people who create entertainment.”
Currently, as FLIK's Director of Food Service Operations and Events at NBCUniversal (NY), Jason is taking his love of cooking, event planning expertise, certification as a personal trainer, as well as his relationships with some of the best Chefs in the country and bringing a hip, trendy, yet healthy flavor to 30 Rock.
Along with the many high profile events Jason puts together both within NBCUniversal and outside of the business, with both FLIK and Chef Joey Campanaro, he has also teamed up with NBCUniversal on some of the company's many important day to day objectives and initiatives, such as the Healthy at NBCU program and Green is Universal. Jason's knowledge and passion for healthy foods and living has assisted him in becoming an asset to NBCUniversal and its many sustainable living programs. This focus is something he says he plans on continuing and expanding throughout his career.