Six of Long Island’s Best Chefs Collaborate to End Child Hunger

Eat, drink, and feed the children at the Chefs’ Table charity dinner to benefit No Kid Hungry.

Every evening, when my children and I sit down together for dinner, I ask them to list their favorite parts of the day, and invariably they always begin with “right now.” We smile and talk about school and friends, tell jokes and laugh around the table, cleaning our home-cooked meals from our plates, sipping from our glasses and figuring out what’s next for dessert.

As a parent, the thought of a child not enjoying a home-cooked meal, or a scoop of ice cream afterward, breaks my maternal heart. Yet, the startling statistic that one in five children goes without sufficient food is a sad and stunning reality; it’s a real component of day-to-day life for so many. These one in five children don’t have a favorite moment around the dinner table; these children don’t have dinner.

Let that sink in: These children don’t have dinner.  

This feeling—this desire to help them, to create change for them, to feed them—is the passion that fueled the fire behind the creation of the Chefs’ Table No Kid Hungry dinner being held at Huntington’s Swallow restaurant on February 27. The event, a brainchild of Swallow’s owner and executive chef James Tchinnis, a father of three, was brought on by the same empty feeling that most of us will get in our own stomachs when we re-read this sentence: These children don’t have dinner.

“To me, it is a tragedy that in the most affluent country in the world, one in five children don’t know where their next meal will come from,” Tchinnis says. “I look at my own children and I can’t imagine them going to bed hungry, but this is the reality for so many kids, and it’s a fixable problem. There is plenty of food in this country. We just need to make sure that kids and their families have access to it.”

A culinary collaboration of six of Long Island’s most notable chefs, each responsible for a separate course within the meal, the Chefs’ Table dinner is an opportunity to showcase excellent food, made by talented people and served to generous guests, whose $200 tickets will earn them each a spot at the all-inclusive event. With 100 percent of the proceeds going directly to the Share Our Strength’s No Kids Hungry campaign, chef Tchinnis and his colleagues hope to embark on the first of many events that bring required attention and much needed relief to the heartbreaking epidemic of children going hungry.

“I have a large and very close family with a lot of nieces and nephews,” says executive chef Stephen Bogardus of Southold’s North Fork Table and Inn“Children can be so joyful, pure and happy. The freedom to be able to explore and nourish your mind and body starts with sound nutrition and food availability. In our country, we should be able to aid the growth of children and help them become their best; they are the future and our most sound investment.”

Bogardus, whose dish remains a secret (as do all the dishes on the six-course menu), quietly hints, “Through much of my career, I have felt a strong love for vegetables and highlight them as often as possible in my cuisine. I want to display their beauty and let the humble nature of Mother Earth shine.”

As anyone who’s worked in a restaurant can back up, a group of six executive chefs creating one cohesive meal could easily be described as too many cooks in the kitchen, but when Tchinnis reached out to participating chefs, his passion for the project really resonated and brought this amazing event to life.

The food will undoubtedly be amazing, and the event is sure to please, with signature cocktails offered upon arrival.

“I feel very fortunate to be participating,” says Kent Monkan, father of three and chef and owner of Port Washington’s the Wild Goose. “Working with these other reputable chefs definitely motivates you to showcase your own talent and create a killer dish. I’m really looking forward to this collaboration!”

The food will undoubtedly be amazing, and the event is sure to please, with signature cocktails offered upon arrival. Guests can mingle to the sounds of the very talented pianist Paul Johnston, then dinner will be served in Swallow’s rock-and-roll-chic dining room, with each course being described by the chef that created it, allowing a not-so-common opportunity for interaction between the guests and the masterminds behind the food as they eat it. Featured wine pairings provided by T. Edward and Aveníu will also be part of the delicious meal. Everyone participating is donating their time and effort.

Too many cooks don't spoil a damn thing. #teamwork #cheflife #dessert #chefs

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With food under wraps, I can’t go into details about the sumptuous dishes that will no doubt be present, but Michael Psilakis, chef and owner of MP Taverna in Roslyn admits, “This is a group of hugely talented chefs working together for a great cause, so I definitely foresee the meal coming together harmoniously. All I can tell you is I’m doing something delicious with lamb. I’m Greek after all!”

Alison Zayas, director of development for the New York division of Share Our Strength No Kid Hungry was happy to share, “We have a huge presence in New York City and it’s great that we’re branching out to Long Island, and raising awareness. Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign is ending childhood hunger in this nation by connecting kids in need with nutritious food and teaching families how to cook healthy, affordable meals. You can help surround kids with the healthy food they need where they live, learn and play.”

Reservations for this fantastic event can be made by calling Swallow restaurant. Seating is limited. Additional donations are being accepted as well.

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Courtney MacGinley

A freelance writer, full-time mom and part-time Professor of Journalism at Suffolk County Community College, Courtney MacGinley is a firm believer that some of the best times are spent around the dinner table. Her work has focused on Long Island's culinary scene in the pages of Edible East End and Edible Long Island magazines for nearly a decade.