Looking for a great cause to support? Here's one for you. On Oct. 16, Beaulieu Vineyard (BV), in partnership with actor Chris Noth and food charities AmpleHarvest.org and City Harvest, sponsored a chef’s challenge for World Food Day. Established by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in 1979, this day is a rallying cry in response to a dire crisis.
There are 842 million hungry people in the world, and 49 million of them are living in the United States. Said another way, in the U.S., one in six adults and 17 million children are hungry. In New York City, recent estimates suggest that as many as one in three children go to bed in food-insecure households.
We spoke with Noth, whose remarks were both passionate and timely, as the U.S. was just ending a 16-day government shutdown at the 11th hour. "You’re living in a city like New York, which is oozing food and food shows and restaurants and magazines talking about food, and people are up to their necks in food and then you hear that 17 million children go to bed hungry. As a father I find that unacceptable," he said. "So I was really happy that a private company like BV is taking a stand and asked me to be a spokesman for their passion to fight hunger. It’s one of the dirty little secrets of America that no one is talking about. It’s not getting a headline and some of these people in Congress are getting all the attention for their ridiculousness when there are issues that need urgent attention. If you’re a father, if you’re a parent, it’s unacceptable."
Beaulieu Vineyard’s Give & Give Back Chef’s Challenge put well-known New York chefs to the test by forcing them to prepare a dish using only items typically found in a food pantry at this time of year, like pancake mix, canned tuna, salad dressing, corn flakes, and some local produce like eggplant and cauliflower. Meals were judged by a panel led by Noth on taste, affordability, scalability, creativity, nutritional value, and the use of fresh ingredients. In other words, the chefs were tasked to create meals and recipes that could be replicated by families who actually get their food from food pantries, especially if those pantries have been enriched by some fresh produce from local gardens, as is the goal of AmpleHarvest.org.
After 30 fast-paced reality food competition-style minutes, the chefs prepared a maple pancake chicken salad patty melt, tuna and potato croquettes with corn flakes, and chicken croquette with cauliflower. The winning dish, warm potato salad with poached egg and green goddess dressing, was prepared by executive chef Orlando Sanchez of Butcher Bar and earned him a $10,000 donation to the hunger charity of his choice.
Notable BV wines of the evening included the BV Coastal Estates Riesling, a delicious off-dry, round and juicy wine with stone fruits and minerality ($11). The BV Reserve Tapestry Red Blend Napa Valley ‘10 has got mouthwatering acidity, good complexity, and balances full-throttle with finesse ($65). And BV’s iconic wine, the Beaulieu Vineyard Private Reserve Georges de Latour Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley ’09, was concentrated and aromatic, with some surprising notes like sunflower and violet, which complement its rich cab character ($135).
The conversation with Noth took a lighter turn when he was asked what kind of wines he likes. He response was lively and enthusiastic. "I’m very impressed with some of the BV wines," he said. "The Latour and Tapestry are favorites of mine. I also love French wines. I think merlot has been maligned. I’ve had the experience of having some extraordinary merlots. In fact, I’m a huge fan of merlot. I also like white wines. I’m very interested in some of the dry Alsatian wines. Ditto for some German wines, which get a bad reputation for being dessert wines. I’m not a fan of dessert wines, but a dry riesling, you’re in heaven. Just incredible."
The evening was a reminder that we, as citizens and neighbors, have a responsibility to each other. When asked what he saw for the future of BV and this cause, Noth said, "I would like to see the idea of what they’re doing spread to every corporation in America. And every small business. Other companies can look to them as an example of what a company is willing to do." Whether it is through large companies or individuals doing what they can, the message that these advocates want you to know is that hunger is solvable. Click here to get your action into motion!