In honor of World Hunger Day on October 16, four well-known New York City chefs gathered to compete in the first-ever Beaulieu Vineyard Give & Give Back Chef Challenge. The event, hosted by Beaulieu Vineyard (BV) and actor Chris Noth, challenged the chefs to create nutritious, delicious, and affordable meals using only ingredients that are typically found in food pantries during this time of year. The goal of the event was to promote hunger awareness, increase donations to organizations fighting hunger, and create healthy recipes that can be easily replicated at food pantries across the nation.
The chefs were held to a 30-minute time limit and could only use ingredients such as rice, pasta, tomatoes, zucchini, beans, and peanut butter. Each of the chefs was allowed a partner to help prepare the dish. Working feverishly throughout the competition, a few of the chefs were still perfecting the final touches on their dish as the last seconds expired.
A panel of judges sampled the four dishes, scoring each creation on its taste, affordability, scalability, creativity, nutritional value, and use of fresh ingredients. After a brief deliberation period, BLT Fish Shack chef Luke Venner's Warm Potato and Kale Salad with Green Goddess and Poached Eggs was named the winner.
Venner's dish included only 10 ingredients: potatoes, kale, eggs, butter, salt, basil, spinach, peas, horseradish, and olive oil.
“I wanted to demonstrate how to prepare something fresh and healthy from scratch,” Venner says. “The only proteins on the ingredient list were canned tuna, canned chicken, and eggs. Not inspired by the first two, I decided to do an egg dish.”
A $10,000 donation was given to food charity Grow NYC in Venner's name on behalf of BV.
“Grow NYC's involvement in the community applies both to hunger issues and the restaurant industry,” Venner says. “My grandfather is a farmer, and local agriculture is so fundamental in the way modern chefs cook. Grow NYC manages farmers' markets throughout the city including the Union Square Green Market, which supplies much of its product to BLT Fish.”
As part of its continued commitment to hunger relief this year, BV expanded its Give & Give Back program to work with fresh-food donation organizations Ample Harvest and City Harvest, which helped compile the ingredient list for the competition. Gary Oppenheimer, executive director and founder of Ample Harvest, served as a judge on the panel.
While the Give & Give Back Challenge was an enormous success, Ample Harvest and BV desired to go beyond just one promotional day of hunger awareness. The brands initiated a text-to-vote campaign that runs through the end of the year. Anyone can participate by texting “Give” to 79008, and BV will donate $1 per text up to $50,000.
By Marlee Murphy