From June 1 through June 10, EAT (RED). DRINK (RED). SAVE LIVES is teaming up with chefs, restaurants, bars, and food trucks to fight AIDS and raise money for the medications that keep HIV patients alive and prevent transfer of the virus to babies in utero. Food and drink vendors all over the world will join the effort by designating items on their menu as (RED) or by serving (RED) drinks with a specially designed bottle of (BELVEDERE)RED vodka, and they’ll donate a portion of the proceeds from those items to the campaign.
But while this is a global effort, it’s being headed up by a pair of New Yorkers: Chef Mario Batali is using his restaurants and public influence to lead the charge, and meat purveyor Pat LaFrieda is offering 50 percent off of three LaFrieda meat products to encourage restaurants to make (RED) dishes and donate the proceeds. Both attended a launch event last night at Batali’s restaurant OTTO Enoteca Pizzeria (1 Fifth Ave, 212-995-9559), and they were accompanied by the CEO of (RED), Deborah Dugan.
“We try to go where people’s passions are,” says Dugan. “We’ve done that with music, art, and design. This is the first time we’ve tapped into the culinary community.”
Both LaFrieda and Batali joined (RED) to make a big impact on a devastating disease that has plagued a generation. “Aids and HIV is a no brainer,” says LaFrieda. “The thought that this could actually bring the 700 babies born with HIV per day down to zero and deliver the first generation of AIDS-free children is amazing. Just like that, I signed up.”
“All of us know that if we can raise more money, AIDS is actually something you could stop,” says Batali. “It’s an extremely powerful feeling when you give to charities where you know the end of it could be in our lifetime.”
The pair has recruited a number of famous friends to promote the cause. A powerful PSA was released by (RED) yesterday, which includes cameos from Top Chef’s Padma Lakshmi and Cake Boss’s Buddy Valastro.
About 350 restaurants worldwide that have signed up so far, and David Chang and Christina Tosi’s Momofuku Milk Bar (251 E 13th St, 212-254-3500), Dominique Ansel Bakery (189 Spring Street, 212-219-2773), and Danny Meyer’s Union Square Café (21 E 16th St, 212-243-4020) are among the several included in the NYC area.
All of Mario Batali’s restaurants will be participating, including Otto, which will serve a (RED) short rib pizza fueled by LaFrieda’s high quality boneless short rib. At Batali’s West Village spot, Lupa Osteria Romana (170 Thompson St, 212-982-5089), look for a (RED) beet tonarelli with Calabrian chiles and mint.
When asked if he would switch up the color of his signature orange Crocs (of which he owns 200 pairs) to support the cause, Batali said, “I have one pair of red Crocs, and I will wear them on the (RED) launch on June 1. I have red socks on today — I’m headed down the path! I just need some time.”
We’ll be watching, Batali.
Learn more about EAT (RED). DRINK (RED). SAVE LIVES at www.red.org.