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Levon's Obsessions

A gal whose obsessions lie within fat, sugar, carbs, caffeine, and beverages that could strengthen the heart or seal up a womb.

Archive for the tag “charity”

Jon Bon Jovi Soul Kitchen

Just the other night I was talking about how I wanted to do more than just hashtag the global initiatives and mega charitable organizations my company is affiliated with.  Raising dollars at food shows and corporate sponsored silent auctions, and donating food and dry goods from our warehouse that are write off’able are great, but I want to have that indescribable level of humility attached to hands on community outreach.  I want to see, feel, and understand firsthand the underserved’s struggle, like I did growing up with my dad years ago when I was little. My dad not only knows about food from running a soul food restaurant when I was an unborn baby, but he also started a grassroots program for the homeless and underserved communities in Charlotte, NC that spiraled into a two decade long tradition at his old church of feeding thousands of homeless families every weekend.  That level of commitment and love is immeasurable.

Too many times do I go out to eat and too often do I bask in the enjoyment of a home cooked meal by my own hands, rarely remembering that other smaller population, and considering what life would be like if I wasn’t afforded these second nature luxuries. Just the other week I very randomly purchased a two pound lobster from the seafood section of the grocery store.  Mind you, in all my frugal glory, I still only paid $15.. But in many families $15 is a huge luxury and could do so much, and go so far.  It’s easy to take these automatic luxuries for granted.  Hashtag Lunchbag, an NYC based initiative I just learned about recently by a good friend, both inspired and intrigued me. The $25 I donated on their site is said to have fed 15 people.  See how that works? Amazing right? I offered to join as a volunteer, and instantly thought of another organization that I had started researching a while back that I wanted to join after my brother sent me a link – Jon Bon Jovi’s Soul Foundation.  He has a few programs that fall under the umbrella.  One of which is his restaurant – Jon Bon Jovi Soul Kitchen that operates under the premise of pay what you can, or not at all and just volunteer. I absolutely love to see celebrities paying it forward.  The smallest gestures in life can go an immeasurably long way.  JBJ Soul Kitchen is a very very long way. Awesome to say the least..

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Taste of the Nation NYC 2014

Sponsoring the annual Taste of the Nation NYC event, I assumed we would have some sort of laborious obligation prior to the event.  Which was perfectly fine given the dynamics.  No Kid Hungry is an ongoing initiative and close affiliate in which the overall objective is to raise awareness, engage the public, and raise money to feed hundreds of thousands of children. We arrived hours in advance to help load in the vendors’ food and materials.  Since that was my heaviest ordering day of the week, I spent the majority of my time taking orders on my laptop in my makeshift office space in the wardrobe room.  Hours after everything was strategically set up, we were given wristbands and asked to stay for the VIP cocktail reception.

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This was bittersweet since I was far from fabulous that day and not at all dressed for the occasion. I had to suck it up and go to the ladies room to primp myself into the most presentable shape possible.  I figured I’d just lurk around the event looking like the overworked journalist in all black and grey, and knee high, flat boots, yet chic and smart looking enough to be present.

There were countless restaurateurs and vendors displaying their trendiest creations possible, in addition to falling into the theme of healthy cuisines.  From the delectable crab puffs at one booth, to Nios‘s seared scallop and crispy pork belly, accompanied with white sweet potato puree, pickled ramps, and fava bean salsa..

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..to Red Rooster Harlem‘s jumbo lump crab salad Ssam with Yuzu mayo and pickled chili..

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There were several notable moments that put a euphoric look on my face like the shrimp on shrimps moment I experienced at Alder NYC‘s booth with
Maine sweet shrimp, green papaya salad, and peanuts on an amazing skin textured shrimp cracker..

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There were other moments where your true food knowledge versus your personal palate were tested.  Like the Quail egg en gelée with American caviar from Balthazar. Balthazar has some of the most amazing pastries in the neighborhood of Soho, as well as countless other locations.  So I was curious to try something on the complete opposite end of the sugary spectrum, which is what led me to the golden speckled egg.

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Poached quail is truly an acquired taste, as are certain types of cordials and spirits, as are everything in life that comes on a plate, or in a styrofoam bowl at a $200 – 400 ticketed charity event.  If this were a Paris Fashion Week show, let’s just say this would’ve been the Lanvin finale piece that made every bit of since to the Parisiennes in the tent that watched the entire show/collection and knew the entire story.  To the street pedestrians however, it would’ve left them in a slight state of bewilderment.  Let’s just say after swallowing the egg and wandering off to the next tent/I mean booth, if I weren’t on such a strict diet I would’ve downed the first shot of bourbon in sight..

Other dishes on display included L&W Oyster‘s smoked cantaloupe oyster shooters which were delightful and refreshing..

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..Minton’s North African spiced lamb loin was a pleasure to digest, along with the pleasant culinary staff that I spoke to about their location and their sibling restaurant The Cecil..

..my favorite art piece at The Cecil (artist unknown..)

..my favorite art piece at The Cecil (artist unknown..)

I also had the opportunity to chat with Chef Banks White as well, mainly about distributor stuff. Chatted up to the point of forgetting to take a picture of the savory loin..

Miss Lily’s and their incredible jerk chicken chutney dish was, very Miss Lily’s..  It was was piercing in flavor and colorful.  No different than what I’ve experienced at their restaurant in the West Village. Their staff at the TONNY event were replicas.

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..and this extraordinarily, naturally flavorful and robust dish which was a vegetarian’s sanctuary.  I believe this was the Hamachi Crudo from Bill’s Food & Drink ..

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..situated next to its sibling restaurant The Lion, with their cocktail explosion.

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I was in heaven and hell at this show due to my gluten/glycemic free diet I’m on for the next few weeks.  I did however triumph not having a single cocktail, wine, or shot of caffeine the entire evening.  They looked amazing though..

Overall it was a successful event and I had a great time and appreciation for the limited dishes I was allowed to indulge in.  Anything involving food and passed hors d’ouevres from the top 80 restaurants in NYC, and the notion of donating 10 meals for every dollar raised with the various proceeds and silent auctions, I’m all for it. It definitely warrants my stamp of obsessionista approval, and I definitely look forward to doing it again next year..

 

 

 

 

 

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