Citymeals Makes Benefit a Family Affair With Culinary Clans, Childhood Photos

By Anna Sekula June 16, 2011, 5:11 PM EDT

Photo:Jika González for BizBash

2011 "A Taste of Home" Citymeals-on-Wheels Chefs' Tribute
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With an invitation constructed to look like an old-fashioned recipe card box and the title of “A Taste of Home,” the overriding theme of family and home for Citymeals-on-Wheels' fund-raiser was clear from the start. The annual Chefs' Tribute event, which drew more than 900 guests to Rockefeller Center's rink and surrounding area on Monday, once again brought in more than 50 of the country's most recognized chefs to serve up a myriad of dishes, all to benefit New York's frail and housebound elderly. However, this year the motif not only dictated the kind of fare crafted, but also the chefs who participated.

In a nod to the family-focused concept, the event organizers invited culinary clans—toques like Larry Forgione and his sons Marc and Bryan, Zarela Martinez and her son Aarón Sanchez, and Jean-Georges Vongerichten and his son Cedric, as well as the owners of family-run restaurants—to present their family recipes. To round out the idea, the Citymeals team—led by associate executive director of marketing, communications, and special events Beth Shapiro and special events manager Margherita Pilato—and the event's designer architect, David Rockwell, sought to craft a homelike environment, with old family photos from the chefs, a bar area fashioned to look like a household liquor cabinet, and banners decorated with images of antique picture frames and silhouettes.

As with years past, signs styled after lampposts helped attendees navigate the food and wine stations placed around the rink and upper-level esplanade. This time round, the placards not only listed the chef and the restaurant, but also the name of the family associated with it. Likewise, the dishes served and listed on the signs were chosen by the cooks to represent their family favorites or specialties. Elsewhere, the childhood photos of the chefs were used to embellish the bar and each tasting booth, a freestanding wall, and the V.I.P. room's custom tables.

In total, the event raised $782,000 for Citymeals-on-Wheels.

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