What’s the recipe for a perfect high summer fundraiser? Start with a dozen or so of the East End’s best chefs, sprinkle in a local cheesemonger, lubricate with some local winemakers and brewers, season with to-be-auctioned work from local artists, and top with a generous dose of school parents, students and others committed to a worthy, community-oriented cause. Such are the irresistible ingredients of the Hayground School’s annual Great Chefs cocktail party and dinner, which raised $150K last Saturday and where the people in attendance were impressive as the food being dished.
The Great Chefs event is among the most storied of all Hamptons fundraisers–up there with All for the Sea concert and Diddy’s White Party–enjoying a legacy that touches many of the best food and drink people in our parts. Among the founding parents at the Hayground School was Jeff Salaway, the influential restaurateur behind Nick & Toni’s in East Hampton, who, with his wife Toni, had a vision of incorporating cooking and food arts into the school’s curriculum. After Salaway’s death, the school raised the funds to build a teaching kitchen and cafeteria, a spectacular, metal-roofed building. The building was dubbed “Jeff’s Kitchen.” And, in it, students cook farm-to-table lunches for each other every day, serving and cleaning up themselves. Jeff’s Kitchen has been the model for many of the edible schoolyard projects on the East End, inspired the launch of the popular Friday farmers market on school grounds. (The school will also be the site, and charitable beneficiary, of Edible’s upcoming Food Truck Derby. And, in full disclosure, my daughter will attend the school this fall.)
It’s this legacy that attracts New York City chefs like Eric Ripert, Marc Meyer, Drew Nieporent, Jonathan Waxman and Tom Colicchio to bring their star power (and deep-pocketed fans, like Isaac Mizrahi and Barry Sonnenfeld) to the event. But the tent that evening was also packed with movers and shakers in the East End food community–locals supporting locals–much like the Harvest East End event at the end of the month. (The background music is kept at bay since attendees have so much to catch up about.)
Cocktail party highlights included the wine from Channing Daughters and beer from Greenport Harbor; the scallop crudo from Joe Isidori of Southfork Kitchen and the scallops and corn from Doug Gulija at the Plaza Cafe; the goat tacos from Bryan Futerman of Foody’s; the yellow gazpacho from Jason Weiner of Almond; and the pizzas turned out by Christian Mir of Stone Creek Inn with assistance with Hayground students working their own mobile pizza oven. The multi-course dinner in Jeff’s Kitchen was paired with Wolffer Estate wines and featured cheeses from Cavaniola’s Gourmet paired with D’Artagnan meats, Zucchini Carpaccio with Tomato Panzanella from North Fork Table and Inn, quail and nectarines from Il Buco Alimentari e Vineria, and Grilled Tuna Ratatouille from Le Bernadin.
To close, The Barefoot Contessa Ina Garten unveiled the Sticky Toffee Date Cake with Bourbon Glaze from her new cookbook, prepared by Honest Man Restaurant Group, which was also responsbile for the Rowdy Hall lamb burgers that made cocktail party-goers swoon. With this sweet taste in their mouths, dinners went home fully sated and knowing they were helping to educate the good eaters of tomorrow.