La Esquina’s Akhtar Nawab, Chopped’s Chris Santos At City Harvest Fundraiser


City Harvest is one of the most beloved nonprofits in NYC. Each day, it collects nearly 77,000 pounds of food from restaurants, markets, and farmers, and uses that to feed more than 300,000 people. Last night it held its big annual fundraiser, “Summer in the City,” to try and raise a little cash from the city’s well-to-do foodies. Big-name chefs stood proudly by their little stands in the cavernous Metropolitan Pavilion, serving up samples of some of their restaurant’s dishes. The dashing Akhtar Nawab, executive chef at the ever-popular (outside of Barnard professor circles, anyway) La Esquina, was there. Was his Williamsburg farm-to-table Mexican beer garden in the old Relish space going to open soon? By the end of July, he assured Fork in the Road. Who else was there?

Chopped star and Beauty & Essex chef Chris Santos was being mobbed by cameras the entire time. John Miele of Ed’s Chowder House was handing out a nice salad of heirloom tomatoes, watermelon, mint, and lump crab meat that “will be on the menu soon.”

Also present were Noah Bernamoff and Rae Cohen, the masterminds behind Montreal-style deli Mile End. In case you are wondering why everyone loves these guys, all you need to know are these words: smoked meat poutine. Not too far away was Hecho en Dumbo’s Danny Mena, who advertised his restaurant’s new happy hour, Sunday through Thursday from 5 to 7 p.m., with the mother of all summer drink deals: the bar’s much-ballyhooed Michelada, made with Bohemia beer, for only $5.

Speaking of beer, the special beer VIP lounge housed Sixpoint’s foray into drinking-at-home technology. Yes, they had the new cans … err, sorry, “nano-kegs,” filled with the Righteous Rye Ale and Crisp Lager. Kudos, Sixpoint, you somehow managed to pack good beer into something that will inevitably be formed into pyramids and smashed on frat boys’ foreheads.

The food was the best you could hope for, considering chefs had to prepare hundreds of samples on little more than hot plates. For these events, sometimes simple is better, for example, Ditch Plains’ Ditch Dog, which basically consists of a hot dog piled high with mac and cheese. It’s like someone took two of the big food trends of the past five years and smooshed them together into some delicious. Quick, somebody invent a fro-yo banh mi!

There was even a silent auction. The most appealing prize? David Chang’s “Beef 7 Ways” dinner at Má Pêche with a signed copy of the Momofuku cookbook. Starting bid: $200. Wait, that’s cheaper than the dinner actually costs if you buy it straight-up, and it’s for a good cause. Well played, City Harvest.