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Lab School Fundraiser Brings Together Chelsea's Top Chefs

By Mathew Katz | May 30, 2012 9:16am
Ticketholders can try up to six samples from the city's top chefs at Tastes NYC.
Ticketholders can try up to six samples from the city's top chefs at Tastes NYC.
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Robert Ripps

CHELSEA — The NYC Lab School is going way beyond the bake sale on Saturday to raise funds for students, recruiting culinary superstars for the fifth annual Tastes NYC, an outdoor culinary extravaganza featuring the city's top chefs.

For $35, foodies can get six specialty tasting plates from local restaurants like The Meatball Shop, Spice Market, and Buddakan.

All money from the food fest at Gansevoort Plaza will benefit the Friends of the NYC Lab School, which raises cash to expand academic enrichment and fund extracurricular activities for students there — such as a chess team that just won top honors at a national competition.

"The ordinary bake sale doesn't generate the volume of cash that a school needs anymore," said organizer and parent Michael Saccio.

The Lab School at 333 W. 17th St. has roughly 1,200 students between its middle and high schools, and has long been ranked as one of the top schools in the city. The fundraiser — which in past years has raised tens of thousands of dollars — allows it to compete, and provide students with an enchanced education and advanced after school programs.

"Because it's a public school, it's given a very modest budget," said Meredith Bergmann, who chairs the committee organizing Tastes NYC.

"All of those things you want to create a well-rounded, competitive student, these fundraisers really provide for."

Bergmann said that for the first time, the event has seen interest not just from parents, but foodies hoping to try out the newest dishes from their favorite chefs, including a bluefish crostini from Frankie's 570.

"This whole big foodie movement — everyone's getting excited about every food event that comes along" she said. "We've had a lot of word of mouth, and now we've had ticket buyers from as far away as England."

Organizers expect around 1,000 people to come try dishes in the middle of the posh Meatpacking District. Saccio and Bergmann said that they hope the buzz leads to an even bigger event next year, not to mention publicity for the elite public school.

"This event itself speaks to another audience, which is the community around the school," Saccio said. "This is really something that outreaches towards the community to let them know about the great public school that's in their neighborhood."

TastesNYC runs on Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at Gansevoort Plaza. Tickets are available online for $35 in advance and $45 on the day of the events.