Over 200 guests drank, ate, and celebrated all of the great accomplishments of the program while honoring Gail Simmons, judge on Bravo’s Top Chef and Food & Wine’s Special Projects Director, as well as the New York Times Food Section.
The evening started off with a cocktail reception in the Petite Salon of the JW Marriott Essex House, where guests enjoyed cocktails and circled around the silent auction items. Following the reception, dinner was served in the Grand Salon along with the presentation of the awards.
The benefit was held to raise funds to support the national not-for-profit’s mission to increase awareness of the importance of food and nutrition education to the health and well-being of children.
National Spokesperson for Spoons Across America and last year’s honoree Jacques Pépin presented the award to Gail Simmons.
“Feeding children and providing underserved communities with access to nutritious food has always been a cause close to my heart, and Spoons Across America shares this commitment,” said Gail Simmons. “It’s truly an honor to be given this award. Their work in teaching future generations about healthful eating practices and where food comes from is an inspiration and so crucial to every child’s growth and development.”
Bill Yosses, former White House executive pastry chef and founder of Kitchen Garden Laboratory presented the Corporate Award for Excellence to the New York Times Food Section and Food Editor Sam Sifton.
“The Times’s core purpose is to enhance society with high-quality news and information,” said Sam Sifton. “We are honored that our work in reporting on and writing about cooking and food resonates with the mission of Spoons Across America, and to accept this award for our work alongside them at Kids Kitchen and The Times’s Taste of the World Expo.”
The night also included a live auction with one-of-a-kind travel and dining packages by Auctioneer Sebastian Clark. Auction items featured a tour of the Union Square Greenmarket and lunch at Breads Bakery with Gail Simmons, dinner with Jacques Pepin at Betony, and a private cooking lesson for 5 Children with Chef Bobo, Executive Chef at the Calhoun School of the Calhoun School. The auction items raised tens of thousands of dollars to benefit Spoons Across America.
“The benefit this year was awe inspiring. Our guests enthusiastically embraced our honorees and the mission of Spoons Across America ̶ to educate children and families about the benefits of healthy eating” said James Grosso, Spoons Across America’s Executive Director.
Spoons Across America was founded in 2001 by a group of educators, chefs, and food professionals to increase awareness of the importance of food and nutrition education to the health and well-being of our children. Our programs influence the eating habits of children through exploratory educational methodologies that celebrate the connection to fresh, locally produced foods and the important tradition of sharing meals around the family table. Our core programs (The Dinner Party Project, Agricultural Literacy Week, Take A Taste with Spoons, Farm to Book, and Spoons Salad Days) are in great demand − a testament to our ability to provide programs that are in-tune with the community of people we serve.
Photos by Annie Watt and Natalia B/AnnieWatt.com and by Yvonne Lee