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Superstar Chefs Serve Tastes of Home at Annual Rockefeller Center Gala

By DNAinfo Staff on June 14, 2011 9:19am

By Jill Colvin

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

ROCKEFELLER CENTER—Culinary superstars from across the world served up a selection of their finest creations, from Brazilian boeuf bourguignon to buffalo tartar, at the 26th annual Citymeals-on-Wheels charity gala at Rockefeller Center Monday night, hosted by New York State's First Girlfriend and Food Network star Sandra Lee.

The theme of the evening was "a taste of home," and chefs, including Jean-Georges Vongerichten, David Burke, and Nobu Matsuhisa, did their best to share their culinary roots with the hundreds of well-heeled foodies who lined up for tastes across Rockefeller Plaza.

"The event is always a fabulous cause," said Vongerichten, who has returned year after year for more than a decade serving bacon-wrapped shrimp topped with a pungent cherry mustard sauce—a favorite with the crowd.

"This is gorgeous. Jean-Georges' shrimp is out of this world," said a satisfied Jeremy Watson, 35, who works for Korin, a Japanese knife shop in TriBeCa that supplies many of the city's top chefs.

Cedric Vongerichten, of West Village critic-favorite Perry St., served from a table next to his father, Jean-Georges, passing out prepared rice cracker-encrusted tuna made with a sriracha-citrus emulsion, which he said was inspired by his birthplace, Thailand.

Family portraits, including one of the two chefs, dotted the tables in honor of the theme.

David Burke, who was also joined by his son, served up his take on BBQ chicken, inspired by his mother, and served with corn whipped potatoes with a pepper, chutney and lemon BBQ sauce.

Marco Moreira, of Toqueville near Union Square, cooked a wild boar ragout with creamy Parmesan polenta, in what he said is an ode to a family tradition of serving polenta every Wednesday night.

Moreira said he was thrilled to be taking part in the fundraiser for Citymeals-on-Wheels, which prepares and hand-delivers meals to home bound seniors.

The event raised more than $750,000, enough to provide 125,000 meals, organizers said.

Shawn Woods from Sylvia's Restaurant in Harlem was another newcomer on the scene.

"Oh man, it's amazing. We're getting really good reviews on the food," said Woods, who served up a flavorful chicken rice pueblo with onion, peppers, celery and sausage.

For many chefs, the event is a particular favorite, since it's one of the few occasions over the course of the year when they get to see each other and taste each others' food.

"I love it," said Thomas Troisgros, the chef at 66 Bistro in Rio de Janeiro, who traveled from Brazil for the event.

"Being next to all these chefs, it's amazing," he said.