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Event Review: The 21st Annual C-CAP Benefit


Once again, C-CAP's lavish February benefit did not disappoint. This year's 21st annual benefit honored the always-lovely chef Michael Lomonaco. Chef Michael Lomonaco (second from right), founder Richard Grausman (far right), and the other big guns


Started by Richard Grausman, the non-profit C-CAP (Careers through Culinary Arts Program) teaches interested youth in underprivileged areas nationwide professional cooking techniques. Professional chefs come in, competitions are held, and opportunities like this (where the high schoolers actually get to prepare and serve with famous chefs) are available for these incredible kids. The program also creates full scholarships for the most talented kids, sending them to everything from local culinary schools to the CIA.

It's a great night, albeit an expensive one for diners. Still, how many other times can patrons walk around a candle-lit Chelsea Piers and dine on food from the city's best chefs?


Popular dishes this year included Gotham Bar and Grill's goat cheese agnolotti with chanterelle mushrooms shooters (chef Alfred Portale), Shun Lee Palace's always-popular peking duck (chef Michael Tong), and Porter House New York's South Carolina coconut cake and creamy chocolate pudding with halva cream, which basically felt like eating gobs of chocolate-scented heavy cream.

Porter House's coconut cake and chocolate pudding 

My personal favorites? Though I would never call myself a soup person, the best dishes at these events always seem to be soup, and this year I was not disappointed. Primehouse New York (chef Brian O'Donahoe) made a butternut squash bisque with porcini mushrooms and duck prosciutto, and that pretty much made my night. I also ended up enjoying two surprises: The parmigiano sformato with porcini ragu from Osteria Morini (chef Michael White), which was a kind of cheese custard that was heavenly and rich, and a dish (though I can't recall the restaurant details) that involved beets, pine nuts, and pineapple foam that surprised the palate.


As usual, Sarabeth's desserts disappointed—I simply do not understand why her restaurant is popular (though her jams and spreads are good)—and there were some not-so-successful dishes, such as the turnip ceviche and the overpowering cranberry mustard beets. Yes, beets and turnips are going to be popular again in 2011, folks! Park Avenue Winter's peekytoe crab cones with avocado and raspberry (chef Kevin Lasko)


Despite a few dishes that weren't so good, there were five more amazing dishes for each one that I didn't quite love.

There was also a silent auction with incredible, once-in-a-lifetime prizes (Want Marcus Samuelsson to prepare a feast for you and 11 friends in your own home? No problem!) that fetched thousands of dollars, with all of the money going to scholarships and programs for the kids.


Another night, another great setting, and another success was had for C-CAP. Gift bags were given to all the guests upon leaving, and I was among the last to leave, along A C-CAP student and partnering chef enjoy serving towards the end of the nightwith a good part of the Grausman gang. Quite a few of us went to the after-party, where, shockingly, several volunteers actually ordered food. They had not stuffed their bellies with some of the best food in NYC, I presume. 'Tis a shame.


I drank water and called it a night.



For more information on C-CAP, visit their website at



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July 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDaniel A. Wood

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