RSVIP: Taste of Summer Benefit in Central Park
Well-heeled guests generously shelled out $350 ($400 at the door) for the endless banquet, as the proceeds benefit New York's beloved Central Park. In stilettos, reed-thin social Somers White Farkas towers next to a dance floor where her pal Muffy Potter Aston mixes it up to Michael Jackson's "ABC."
"We'll raise over $600,000," says Gillian Miniter, president of the Central Park Conservancy Women's Committee. Miniter sports a dress by designer Lela Rose, Manolo shoes, and jewelry by Fulco di Verdura, an Italian duke favored by Coco Chanel. "All of it goes directly to the park," she says. "The conservancy provides 85 percent of the [$26-million] budget for the park each year."
At station 19, Austrian chef Marcus Glocker of Gordon Ramsay at the London NYC tells Luxist that he met the Brit TV foodie when he was 19 years old. "I knocked on his door to get a job in London," says Glock while spraying white foam into plastic cups from a silver canister to prepare white chocolate ganache, coconut foam, and fresh mango. "The yogurt powder in the chocolate makes it a bit tangy, very airy, no dairy, nice and light," he says. And does Ramsey, famous for knocking everyone in the kitchen down to size, wreak havoc when he visits New York? "He checks flavors," says Glock, who claims that no f-bombs are dropped. "He just mentions a few nuances."
After chef Matteo Bergamini of SD26 wine bar spoons out truffle butter at station 34, a woman in a colorful sundress grabs the last of the uovo in 'raviolio,' homemade soft egg yolk-filled 'raviolio.' "We wanted him to make us a whole plate," she says of her second portion, a buttery soft sip of a meal.
"Salt and pepper, that's it," Cafe Carlyle chef James Sakatos describes his deceptively simple technique to roast a diver scallop. Of course, he then adds celeriac remoulade, shaved summer truffle, and petite herb salad. Pan-crisp perfection. And if the food at Cafe Carlyle doesn't wow out-of-towners, a list of stars who recently performed there might. Woody Allen and the Eddy David New Orleans Jazz Band played through May 31, and Judy Collins has a gig through June 12.
The Palm Court at the Plaza Hotel, another New York classic, serves up a delightful, crunchy chocolate-and-hazelnut napoleon. Chef Willis Loughhead, previously of The Modern restaurant at The Museum of Modern Art, describes his healthful update of the age-old Palm Court menu. "Slightly more New York in style and as organic as humanly possible," he says. "Instead of mayonnaise for a chicken salad, I'm using yogurt and creme fraiche."
Other standout dishes at the tents: Telepan's chilled carrot puree with crab salad, a heavenly combination with a hint of carrot crunch; BLT Market's refreshing, flavorful heirloom tomato bruschetta with burrata cheese, pesto mousse, and fried-zucchini blossom garnish; Peanut Butter & Co.'s bite-sized dark-chocolate-and-
Hockey puck-sized lump crab cakes from The Central Park Boathouse are the perennial favorite, however. "No filler, not overcooked," pronounces Barbara K, who endures the slow-moving line at booth number 5. "Crisp on the outside," continues K, a kind of Martha Stewart of DIY who recently manufactured a line of purple tools to empower women and who, like all New Yorkers, considers herself an erstwhile food critic. "And moist inside." Yum.