These are indeed trying, ravenous times. Disconcertingly, 2017 looks to be the year that tastelessness and casual bigotry of all shameful stripes seek their slimy resurgence. Here in Donald Trump’s birthplace, we’ll soon see the return of the Playboy Club, giving everyone the chance to experience the cheap thrill of objectifying women just like our 45th Commander in Chief. And right now, if you call two days in advance, a South Street Seaport restaurant will sell you a squid ink-stained gray circle of baked dough layered with enough random fancy ingredients to apparently justify charging the monthly price of a Financial District studio apartment rental.
“The ingredients are sourced from all over the world” the press release extolls about this absurd stunt item, which debuted during 2016’s holiday season. The trumpeting continues, checking off a Carmen Sandiego-esque country-hopping grocery list that jumps from French foie gras and truffles, to English stilton cheese, to Ecuadorian gold leaf, and Ossetra caviar “from the Caspian Sea.” With its mishmash of rich people catnip, Industry Kitchen’s rarefied round may very well be the Donald Trump of pizzas: a whole lot of bluster and grotesque spectacle for an ultimately hollow experience and gaudy display of wealth. You don’t have to stretch your imagination much to guess that this $2,000 orgy of cheese, liver, and fish eggs on bread likely doesn’t add up to more than the sum of its prohibitively expensive parts. New York is no stranger to outrageous menu items. This is the land of $100 gold-covered doughnuts, $1,000 omelets loaded with lobster and caviar, and ultra-costly dishes and drinks that come with actual jewels, after all. Even so, this monstrosity is particularly gauche, ostentatious in a way that almost feels untoward in this cultural climate, when there are looming assaults on civil rights, the environment, and, some might argue, the very concepts of decency and decorum.
Faced with such indignities, we’re far hungrier for opportunities to help others, especially in light of last night’s freeze of the second muslim ban. Grassroots protests — like last month’s A Day Without Immigrants, observed by numerous businesses nationwide — are proving to be forces for positive change and communal altruism. In turn, we’ve sought out ways that the city’s restaurant and food industries are aiding New Yorkers who want to support causes that benefit those in need. Bonus: none of them need set you back two grand (unless you’re feeling especially generous).
Raise Awareness at Dinner, Take a Socially Conscious Food Tour, or Grab a “Banned Food” Map
In the wake of the first disastrously implemented and belligerently conceived muslim ban, a group of local food writers and tour guides banded together to form Breaking Bread NYC, a collective that aims to connect “communities through cuisine.” Scott Weiner, a co-founder who runs the popular Scott’s Pizza Tours, tells the Voice that the first excursion, which brought more than 80 people to five Syrian and Yemeni food purveyors in Cobble Hill, went swimmingly. “The response was incredible,” he says of the crowd, whose donations benefitted the Council on American-Islamic Relations. They’ve hosted a Sephardic lunch and stroll down Kings Highway in Brooklyn, and even taken their mouthwatering crusade cross-country, organizing a meal at an Iraqi restaurant in Dallas. Coming up on Thursday, March 23rd, they’ll host dinner at David’s Brisket House, a Yemeni Muslim-owned Jewish deli in Bed-Stuy. If you’d rather explore on your own, a $10 donation will net you a weekly changing map of venues serving food from the seven countries named in the now-defunct initial ban (also benefitting CAIR).
Eat Out for a Good Cause
Order one ($4.75) or two ($6) scoops of justice at Fany Gerson’s ice cream and paleta shop La Newyorkina, where the Mexico City-born chef is raising money for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund with a multicolored sorbet made to mimic the Mexican flag. Available through March, “Mi Corazon” brings together stripes of hibiscus-berry, mezcal-lime, and cactus-pineapple.
New York City chefs including Paowalla’s Floyd Cardoz, celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson (Red Rooster), Manish Mehrotra of New Delhi import Indian Accent, and L’Appart’s Mina Pizzaro, will join forces with the Museum of Food and Drink (MOFAD) for a benefit dinner at Tribeca Rooftop on Thursday, April 13th. The ritzy event, hosted by Gail Simmons, honors Ruth Reichl’s storied career in food and begins with a cocktail hour celebrating immigrant cuisines and their contributions to NYC’s food landscape alongside drinks inspired by Eighteenth Century taverns courtesy of MOFAD founder Dave Arnold. The extravagant, multi-course dinner that follows expands on that premise. Tickets, on sale now, start at $750 per person, and funds go to furthering MOFAD’s goal of building a standalone food museum.
Donate to a Local Food Charity
Citymeals on Wheels, which delivers meals to homebound seniors
Added Value Farms, a “farming and food justice” non-profit based in Red Hook and staffed by volunteer youth.
City Harvest, which “rescues” restaurant food waste and redistributes it to more than 500 programs, including many local food pantries.