NYC Chef Gears Up For The Annual Chef's Cycle Fundraiser

In two months, 300 notable chefs and food industry professionals will swap their aprons for spandex and descend on Santa Rosa, California, to ride 300 miles over three days with the goal of raising $2 million — or 20 million meals — for No Kid Hungry (NKH) through the Chef's Cycle event.

One of those chefs is Hillary Sterling of Vic's, the East Village Italian-Mediterranean restaurant located in the old Five Points space.

"I am a product of New York City public schools, where graduation rates are increasing but the students are not prepared for real life and work," she said. "We need to make sure breakfast is available, approachable, and encouraged to the students."

She continued to explain that helping educate students on the importance of eating breakfast and making the right food choices is crucial for healthy development.

"I have participated in the past three years of Taste of the Nation. This will be my second Chef's Cycle. I ride to raise awareness and in support of NKH."

As she trains, we're sure she's chowing down on the healthier options her eatery has to offer, like eggs, greens & grains, made with spinach, chiles, feta, charred onions, almonds, or her signature baked eggs made with San Marzano tomatoes, ricotta, and Calabrian chiles.

If you feel like stopping by Vic's to say hi, you'll be faced with a sumptuous array of those and other thoughtfully prepared Italian dishes to choose from, everything from oyster mushrooms with potato, bottarga, and lemon to sheep's milk agnolotti with hazelnut and an amazing brunch dish comprised of fluffy eggs, tomatoes, and mozzarella cheese served in the skillet.

Building on the innate principals of Italian cooking, Sterling sources ingredients locally — from finishing salt that's made in Hell's Kitchen to flour ground in New York state — and lets the seasons guide her menu.

Chef Hugh Acheson, another lead supporter of the event and author of the James Beard Foundation Award-winning cookbook A New Turn In The South, said that he believes hunger now has a face that is "totally different than the hunger we were conditioned to years ago."

"It is not the hunger of sub-Saharan Africa, but rather the hunger of masses and masses of low-nutrient convenience foods, combined with lack of access," said Acheson, who is also personally involved with a variety of cooking programs in public schools. "Hunger affects one in five children in the U.S., and I see public schools becoming the place to feed the majority of children breakfast, lunch, and dinner and families working three jobs to get by as the middle class erodes away."

"These are kids, innocent in their plight, but they are also the future leaders of our country," said Acheson. "Unless we feed them well we will be failing ourselves and them."