Wednesday night, some of the country’s finest chefs gathered at Brooklyn’s renowned River Café to honor their friend Gerry Hayden, who is suffering from ALS. Hayden began his career at the esteemed restaurant at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge, and today is the executive chef and owner at Long Island’s North Fork Table & Inn.
The tasting event was held at the restaurant’s garden and terrace, and 15 noted chefs each served barbecue-inspired small plates from stations positioned around the grounds and flower-draped interior. Charlie Palmer served duck breast, David Burke served BBQ pastrami salmon on a corn cake with pickled onions, Marc Forgione served BBQ beef short rib with wheatberry salad, Bill Telepan served a “blooming” spring onion with pepperoncini, Franklin Becker served grilled beets, and Bryan Voltaggio served grilled quail. Believe it or not, all these chefs were involved with the River Café at some point in their careers, leading the New York Times to dub it “the restaurant that launched a thousand chefs” in 2001.
The event was highlighted by an auction run by Palmer in which everything from a tour of a chocolate factory to a trip to Las Vegas was auctioned off, all to benefit A Love Shared, a collaborative effort to raise awareness about ALS, to promote research for ALS, and to raise money for quality of life care for chef Hayden. The event was not only a celebration of Hayden’s illustrious career, but an opportunity for some of the country’s best chefs to reunite at the restaurant that started it all for them, which just re-opened in February after nearly being destroyed by Hurricane Sandy.