Wednesday, April 20, 2011

JAMES BEARD CELEBRITY CHEF TOUR - 2011

All photographs courtesy © Brandi Evans
"This year, we extended Scheib's visit to two nights. One night was not enough to accomodate all of our guests who were interested in having this unique dining experience. Chef Scheib's amazing food and entertaining stories about cooking for the first families guaranteed a memorable night for all our attendees," said Palisades chef-owner Shaena Muldoon. When I read this quote in the Bluefield Daily Telegraph, I was humbled. Chef Schaena is a talented and noteworthy chef in her own right. The chef and her kitchen crew worked tirelessly to pull together this incredible meal for the James Beard Celebrity Chef Tour. So Shaena's compliment actually reflects the measure of skill and care that the staff put into the dinner. All in all, $8000 was raised for the James Beard Foundation, which helps fund scholarships for aspiring culinary professionals.

I was very happy to be invited back for the tour's only stop in Virginia. The Palisades restaurant served as a gathering point--hosting more visitors than people who actually live in town. I met some pretty incredible people, as well as some friends from last year's dinner. I enjoyed seeing Brandi Evans and her husband Nick from branapetit.com again. I wrote about Brandi's blog last year and it's exciting to know she now has a regular food column in Bella Magazine.

The only thing I regret about this short visit was not being able to stay and explore the local countryside. The sights and sounds of the local river caused me to long for a little casting time. Eggleston is a quiet getaway for campers, canoers, kayakers, explorers and fishing-types like myself. If I make my way back here in the summer, I think it would be fun to try out the not-so-famous Tarzan rope swing the town is rumored to have - located somewhere along the river right after passing the big bend.

Monday, April 11, 2011

ACTS OF CHARITY - DEEDS OF KINDNESS


If you walk past 9808 Queens Boulevard in New York, you would immediately identify the establishment as just another upscale cafe located in the heart of Queens. Everything about the place, including the privacy foyer, elegant light fixtures, stone paneling, shtetl life paintings, and 4-top wooden tables would never allude to the fact that this restaurant is actually a soup kitchen. The people who run the place have a very simple mission; they provide hot, nourishing meals to anyone in need - free of charge. However, this is a soup kitchen with a twist---it's kosher, allowing its patrons to eat with dignity.

9808 Queens, also known as the "free restaurant" is just one of many services that the Met Council provides. The Met Council is one of New York's largest human services agencies that helps to fight poverty. The scope of their operation is broad: services include career training, health insurance enrollment, affordable housing, home care and home repairs, and the kosher food pantries.

The Met Council extended an invitation to me to accept their Public Service Award. I was honored to accept the award at their 2nd annual Food for Life Campaign, which took place at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Battery Park City this last week. Don Dahler, CBS News Anchor hosted the event as patrons were treated to a festive enening of international kosher food, a scotch tasting, live and silent auctions, and a rousing musical accompaniment by "The Yeshiva Maccabeats."