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On May 19th, we celebrated the 8th annual STREETS Eats tasting event at the Astor Center which featured NYC’s top chefs and their amazing dishes.

The night went to benefit STREETS International, a non-profit organization that is part hospitality school and part restaurant café in historic Hoi An, Vietnam, that offers local, disadvantaged youth an 18-month training program designed to give them the tools and skills to achieve financial independence.

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Chefs served up Southeast Asian-inspired street foods while guests mingled and enjoyed cocktails presented by Rob Mohally and Mike Di Tota of Sweet Afton. The two signature cocktails of the evening were “Stories of the Mekong” with light rum, lemongrass, Thai basil, lime, and chrysanthemum-lychee bitters, and “Traditions of the Tet” with vodka, jasmine tea, mango, salted lime, jalapeno, cilantro, and soda.

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Part way through the evening, Neal Bermas, founder of STREETS, and director Sondra Stewart addressed the crowd to discuss the organization and inspiration for the cause, and to thank the participating restaurants and sponsors.

A brief video played that interviewed some of the students that are part of STREETS International and they talked about their upbringing and how the program has changed their lives. They were asked what noodles means to them in their lives and even a simple question evoked some profound emotions through the video.

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After the presentation, guests continued to sample the dishes. Speaking of noodles, we loved the noodles with spicy peanut sauce topped with pork confit from Thomas Chen of Tuome, as well as the cilantro-marinated grilled shrimp with papaya and wheat noodles in a tamarind-chili dressing from Leah Cohen of Pig & Khao.

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One of the crowd favorites was the spicy pork belly bao with ramp aioli, spicy fish sauce, pickled cucumbers, and a side of peanut brittle by James Briscione from the Institute of Culinary Education. The tangy sauce and herbs packed a nice punch to complement the pork belly. We also loved the “Goi Cuon” summer rolls with shrimp, herbs, vermicelli noodles and a Hoisin-peanut sauce by Ron Hsu of Le Colonial, a Frech-Vietnamese restaurant in Midtown East.

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Daniel Holzman and Michael Chernow from The Meatball Shop Asian-fied their meatballs and created Peking duck balls. Wylie Dufresne of Alder served chicken liver mousse, and Cafe Boulud had shrimp mousse skewers on a sugar cane with a jicama-herb salad.

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PJ Calapa from Ai Fiori served a tarte di ricciola lettuce wrap with Amberjack tartare, cauliflower couscous and Calabrian chilies. We enjoyed the colorful green papaya salad with crispy sriracha and peanuts with a tamarind-ginger dressing from ChoLon & Cho77. We wrapped up with Thai ice cream from OddFellows.

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Cheers to another successful event! For more information on STREETS International and to support their cause, please visit:


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About STREETS International

STREETS International is an innovative social enterprise initiative with the purpose to develop and operate sustainable programs for street kids and disadvantaged youth in SE Asia and throughout the world.

Formed in 2007, as a US-based 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, STREETS prepares vulnerable, orphaned and other disadvantaged young people for careers in hospitality.

In developing economies around the world, tourism is often one of the first and largest sectors to experience growth and expansion. The STREETS initiative is designed to match the resource demands of the growing hospitality sectors with the needs of disadvantaged youth. It provides them with the highest levels of training to prepare them for careers in culinary arts and hospitality service.

The program incorporates many components, including classroom instruction, hands-on work experience, housing and all the necessary social and community support. This is the first real chance for many disadvantaged young adults to transition from poverty and life on the streets to the dignity of self-sufficiency that comes with a successful career in hospitality.