Last Saturday evening the United Way of New York City held their 2nd Annual “What’s on the Table” fundraiser to benefit their anti-hunger programs and raised a stunning $200,000 which will provide more nutritious food for struggling families of NYC.  Hosted by philanthropists Bruce and Avis Richards at their lovely Southampton home, the evening was helmed by Top Chef and restaurateur Tom Colicchio and Jon Bon Jovi along with their respective wives, filmmaker Lori Silverbush and Dorothea Hurley.

Special guests such as chef Katie Lee, supermodel Hilary Rhoda, CNN anchor Alina Cho, and Estee Lauder head John Demsey enjoyed a heartwarming presentation about the importance of the work that UWNYC is doing and an energetic live auction lead by Jennifer Jones Austin, Senior Vice-President for Community Investment at UWNYC.  One of the surprise items up for bidding included a private dinner cooked by Tom Colicchio with a performance by Jon Bon Jovi at the bidder’s home. The winning bidder paid $40,000 for this special treat!

“What’s on the Table?” emphasized the need to ensure that food they receive is fresh and nutritious. This is a special mission that hits close to home for hostess Avis Richards.  Her son Dylan had been sneaking off campus at school in order to buy lunch from the nearby grocery store because he was unable to access healthy options from his cafeteria.  Knowing that some children don’t have the means to find their own meals, she understands the importance of them getting a nourishing diet at home.

In keeping with the fresh meal theme, guests dined on small plates from several of Tom Colicchio’s famed restaurants. Chefs from Colicchio and Sons, Craft, Riverpark, Craftsteak and Topping Rose each offered bites featuring locally sourced, seasonal ingredients. Some of our favorites included grilled peaches, raspberry cobbler, and pork belly sliders.

During their speeches, Colicchio, Bon Jovi, and Silverbush (who directs an upcoming documentary about hunger titled “A Place at the Table”) discussed the statistics of hunger in America – 1 in 5 children go hungry every day – as well as why this issue is important to them.  Bon Jovi shared the story of how his community restaurant “Soul Kitchen” was created in Red Bank, NJ and how guests pay what they can afford for a meal.  Anyone who cannot pay is allowed to work for their meal.

Before being sent home with a bag full of farm fresh goodies from the red carpet harvest display, guests were encouraged to call Congressional representatives and ask for necessary funding on the Farm Bill, which will help feed nearly 50 million Americans each month.  Every dollar of the $200,000 raised from the live auction will go directly to reducing hunger in New York.



Photos via David X Prutting