Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Hurricane Sandy Relief Dinner at The Dutch

"Superstorm Sandy" hit the eastern seaboard exactly three weeks ago on October 29, leaving a trail of damage that will have lasting aftereffects. Lower Manhattan went dark for days; some New York and New Jersey communities like Rockaway, Red Hook, Staten Island and Long Beach Island have been devastated by flooding, fires and ongoing power outages.

The restaurant community, with its thin margins, perishable inventory and dependence on customer foot traffic, is among the most sensitive to disasters like this. And at the same time, it is also one of the most apt to respond and assist: almost immediately after the storm cleared and the damage was assessed, chefs and restaurant owners were looking for ways they could help others.

One of the first to jump on the task was Andrew Carmellini: two days after Sandy, before the power was even restored, The Dutch in New York was serving up free soup and salad for anyone in the neighborhood. And together with fellow New York chefs Marco Canora, George Mendes and Seamus Mullen, he quickly put together "NYC Food Flood" to provide direct aid to those impacted by the storm.

When I heard Carmellini had a stash of truffles for a planned "Trufflepalooza" dinner that had to be cancelled, I suggested he send them down to Miami so we could do a fundraiser down here. The truffles found another home, but the idea stuck. Chef Carmellini suggested lining up some local chefs to team up for a charity dinner, and the outpouring of support was overwhelming. In only a couple days, Michelle Bernstein (Michy's), Richard Gras and Antonio Bachour (J&G Grill), Aaron Brooks (Edge Steak), Brad Kilgore (Exit 1), Jeremiah Bullfrog (gastroPod), and Bar Lab had all agreed to participate. Andrew Zimmern sent his AZ Canteen truck down for the event. Many others - Michael's Genuine, The Bazaar, Bourbon Steak, neMesis Urban Bistro, Wolfe's Wine Shoppe, South Beach Wine & Food Festival, Miami Wine and Food Festival, and more - contributed items for a silent auction.

And when we called for our Cobaya "guinea pigs" to come out and support the event, we received an equally enthusiastic response, filling more than 40 of the available spots for the dinner. South Floridians can surely empathize as New York recovers from the aftermath of a destructive hurricane, and I was gratified and moved by the generous support for the efforts of Chef Carmellini and so many others. Thank you for being "Cobayas for a Cause".

So, sure, it's all for a good cause; but what about the food?

(continued ...)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Cobayas for a Cause - 11/18/12

Local Miami Chefs to Join Andrew Carmellini for Dinner & Silent Auction November 18, 2012


Miami is no stranger to hurricanes, and when Hurricane Sandy hit the Northeast last week, thousands of businesses and residents were left struggling for survival. In an effort to provide relief for the victims of ‘Sandy,’ chef Andrew Carmellini and his team at The Dutch at W South Beach Hotel & Residences have teamed up with Cobaya – Gourmet Guinea Pigs, the organizers of Miami’s premier underground dining events, to gather renowned Miami chefs and businesses to join them in a five-course dinner and silent auction taking place Sunday, November 18, 2012.

“We got rocked up in New York, some much worse than others. Many people like myself have roots in both the tri-state and South Florida, so I knew I could count on the culinary talent of Miami for help. Cobaya has been instrumental in this rally,” says Carmellini.

Priced at $250 per person all-inclusive, the special evening will bring together some of our region’s most notable chefs including Antonio Bachour (J&G Grill), Michelle Bernstein (Michy’s), Aaron Brooks (Edge Steak), Jeremiah Bullfrog (gastroPod and the upcoming Freehand), Richard Gras (J&G Grill), Brad Kilgore (Exit 1) and Andrew Zimmern’s AZ Canteen joined by The Dutch’s stellar culinary team, chef de cuisine Conor Hanlon, pastry chef Josh Gripper and head bartender Rob Ferrara. Guests can expect signature dishes and chef favorites for each course, expertly paired with wine and cocktails, and Michael Schwartz of Michael's Genuine Food & Drink will be on hand to pour his Michael's Genuine Home Brew and help out in the kitchen. The evening starts at 7:00 p.m. with cocktails by BarLab and canapés in the lush Grove at W South Beach followed by dinner on The Terrace at The Dutch.

All of the participating chefs are Cobaya alumni in one way or another, and we are thrilled by the incredibly generous and unhesitating response by local chefs to the call for help. We hope that our group of guinea pigs responds in the same fashion. We have a block of tickets that we are taking requests for and will conduct a lottery this Friday November 9, 2012 to fill available spots. Though this is pricier than our usual Cobaya events, it is a stellar lineup and a worthwhile cause, and we hope you feel the same.

We also encourage you to come ready to bid on some fantastic items for the silent auction, which will feature an array of items from hotel stays and spa days to autographed cookbooks and dinner certificates. Cobaya also will be contributing four guaranteed seats for a future Cobaya dinner to the auction.

ALL PROCEEDS from the dinner and silent auction will go directly to NYC Food Flood, a fund started in concert by Carmellini and fellow New York chefs, Marco Canora, Seamus Mullen and George Mendes, joining efforts to generate funds directed to relief efforts in their own backyard. You can follow NYC Food Flood on twitter @NYCFoodFlood.

To request seats, please email your request to cobayamiami@gmail.com and specify how many spots you would like. We will be conducting a lottery to fill the available spots on Friday November 9, 2012. You will then need to book your seats via PayPal by Monday November 12 (a link will be made available on the Cobaya website). So please respond quickly if you're interested.

Please help Cobaya support this worthy cause.

The Dutch is located inside W South Beach Hotel & Residences, 2201 Collins Avenue, in Miami Beach, Florida, 33139.