An abundance of gourmet food served in an effort to feed the hungry? Such a model was City Harvest’s approach to Summer in the City 2013, and it turned out to be positively well-executed. Not only did the benefit raise a lot of money for charity; it was a ton of fun for attendees, as we discovered.
Summer in the City 2013, according to City Harvest, "was a great success, raising $300,000 – enough to help City Harvest feed over 170,000 hungry New Yorkers for an entire week.” The money came largely from the proceeds from ticket purchases, which started at $150 for individual admission and went up to $15,000 packages for VIP tickets and such perks as an invitation for four to a private dinner with a chef.
Indeed the evening, which took place in the Metropolitan Pavilion in New York City’s Chelsea district, was exceedingly well attended by a crowd of over 650. They came to indulge in a seemingly infinite spread of food and cocktail samples: "Ditch Dogs," from Ditch Plains chef Marc Murphy, were a particular favorite, consisting of a hot dog covered in mac and cheese. There was the "Poet’s Dream" from The Beagle, a strong yet sweet dry-gin-and-vermouth cocktail with Benedictine and orange bitters, full of different notes and flavors. And unforgettable in many ways was the escargot from Momofuku Ssam Bar, whose reputation in New York precedes it. All of the sampling took place at a wide variety of tables set up around the venue, including a row along one wall complete with indulgent pastries and desserts.
Exploring the Metropolitan Pavilion Wednesday evening, we saw many scenes set up by City Harvest for the elevation of the attendees’ experience. Beyond the cornucopias on the tasting tables, we found an open bar surrounding the central column with an extensive beer and liquor selection. Volunteers stationed themselves at several points around the room with trays to offer guests a variety of wine samples. For the raffle and silent auction, which took place at the end of the night, one row of tables along the far wall was set up to display an assortment of prizes from various donors, including Groupon, a sponsor of the event. There was even an interactive photo booth in the corner, open to all guests to take and edit their own portraits. Finally, we at The Daily Meal were fortunate enough to get inside the VIP Room, a section of the pavilion reserved for those with VIP tickets. It included several more tables of restaurant samples, along with rows of comfortable couches and, interestingly, an entire wall of espresso machines provided by Nespresso, the sponsor of the VIP Room.
No extravagant benefit worth attending would be sufficient without live music, and up on the stage, Rakiem Walker Project and Howie Day fulfilled that role with special performances throughout the night. With all the loud music and feverish activity, an air of excitement filled the room all night, with nary a low-key period at all. The essence of this year’s Summer in the City took the form of fun supported by an endlessly varying smorgasbord of great food from some of New York City’s finest restaurants. If City Harvest’s intention was to make its guests feel welcome and enjoy the plentitude they provided, it certainly reaped what it sowed that evening.