Monday, March 23, 2015

The 2015 Lucky Rice NYC Feast – Mandarin Oriental Hotel, New York City – March 20, 2015

The 2015 Lucky Rice NYC Feast is a grand tasting event that brings together the best mixologists and chefs from the New York City Asian culinary scene.  Founded by entrepreneur Danielle Chang, this year marks the 6th anniversary of the annual Lucky Rice NYC Feast. 

For anyone not familiar with this event, the Lucky Rice Feast is not just a food festival, but a grand celebration of Asian culture – encompassing food, music, tea, and cocktails.  This year’s Lucky Rice Feast at the ballroom of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel included live Chinese cabaret music and perfect panoramic views of Central Park.

Cabaret singer sings classical Chinese music accompanied to live piano music
This annual festivity showcases Asian cuisine by chefs from many of New York City’s top restaurants.  Participants included Morimoto, Clement, Asiate, Perry Street, Mokbar, RedFarm, Macao Trading Co., Pig & Khao, amongst many others.  

Beautiful re-interpretation of Chawanmushi (savory Japanese egg custard) by the chef of Asiate
Chawanmushi (savory Japanese egg custard) up close.  Like many dishes served at Asiate, the presentation is impressive!
As you may have guessed from this roster of participating restaurants, the Asian cuisine you’ll experience at the Lucky Rice Feast is not the traditional ethnic foods you’ll find in the average restaurant in Chinatown.

Instead, Lucky Rice is about top chefs bringing innovative, creative, and unexpected flairs to traditional Asian dishes.  Their influence and unique takes on Asian cuisine comes from having experience and training in both Asian and Western culinary traditions.  For example, Pichet Ong – a pastry chef who participated in this year’s event is not only an expert in Asian desserts, but has also trained under famed French chef Jean-George Vongerichten.  The dessert Pichet Ong showcased at this year’s Lucky Rice was a black sesame ice cream encased in light chocolate mousse, drizzled with chocolate oil – evoking both a French and Japanese influence.

Spicy cold fresh noodles with pork belly, crispy garlic rayu and sesame oil - by Morimoto
At the Lucky Rice Feast, guests get unlimited sampling of dishes from over 20 restaurants, and fancy hand-crafted Asian inspired cocktails made by mixologists from famed downtown establishments like Madam Geneva, The Manhattan Cricket Club, and Lumos.   Non-alcoholic beverages were also on hand for those who don’t drink – options this year included iced matcha green tea and artisanal ginger ale by Bruce Cost (after sampling every flavor, our favorite was by far the hisbiscus pomegranate!).

Refreshing iced matcha green tea from West Village Cafe Chalait
Toyota, a main sponsor of this year’s event invited pastry chef Pichet Ong over to showcase his dessert and sign autographs on his dessert book, The Sweet Spot.  VIP ticket holders were also treated to Pichet’s cookbook.  American Express, another sponsor of this year’s event had a photo-booth where guests can snap and print out instant pictures. 

Pasty Chef Pichet Ong signs copies of his dessert cookbook
Pichet Ong's dessert cookbook, The Sweet Spot - for guests of this year's Lucky Rice Feast
The Lucky Rice Feast is truly a nice of fine dining, delicious cocktails, music, and celebrity chef surprises!  Many of the dishes looked too beautiful consume and we experienced some of the best crafted cocktails we’ve had in NYC.  Highlights included the Saffron Chirashi (Clement), grilled Octopus with Romanesco sauce (Perry St), and the Crustacean Chawanmushi (Asiate).  From the cocktails category, Lumos served an impressive Sesame Colada made with Bombay Sapphire East Gin, mangosteen, white sesame paste, caramelized pineapples, rice wine, and agave.

Green curry and poached shrimp, with charred cauliflower and tomatoes by Pig & Khao - so light yet tasty!
Shrimp Dumplings by Red Farm - tasty rendition of a dim sum favorite!
This is the Oriental Breeze beverage served on Cathay Pacific's (also a sponsor of this year's event) business and first class seats.  This is a light and delicious mix of sour plum tea, cranberry juice, honey, rose water and lemon juice.
Filipino Restaurant Maharlika serves a chicken dish over cassava chips
The 2015 Lucky Rice Feast is also happening this year at Miami, Las Vegas, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.  Tickets to all Lucky Rice Feast events can be purchased here, so if you’re in New York City, mark your calendars for the 2016 event next March!  More pictures from this years event can be found on #EatDrinkGetLucky .

Monday, March 16, 2015

Bent on Learning’s 6th Annual Inspire Gala - Capitale, New York City - March 10, 2015

Bridget Moynahan, Jessie Freschl, Stephanie Johnson at Bent on Learning 6th Annual Inspire! Gala
Bent on Learning, an organization that works to bring yoga to New York City public school students held their 6th Annual Inspire Gala on Tuesday evening, March 10th at Capitale in Manhattan.  The event raised over $350,000 to Support Yoga Programs in New York City Public Schools. 

The Bent on Learning Gala attracted renowned celebrity guests, such as actress and model Bridget Moynahan, actor Alec Baldwin, and actor Kevin Navayne.  Festivities for the night at the grand Capitale venue included cocktails, silent auction, dinner, and a on-stage yoga performance by students of New Design.  We must say that the most memorable part of the gala was hearing several NYC public school students speak to how yoga has improved their lives.

Hilaria Baldwin and Alec Baldwin
Bent on Learning supporter Dr. Frank Lipman introduced honoree Gopi Kallayil, Chief Evangelist of Brand Marketing at Google, to the stage where Kallayil gave a heartfelt speech about the value of yoga in schools.  Guests also had a chance to stand and join him in a brief yoga practice. Although only a few minutes long, guests in glamorous cocktail attire joined him for the first ever yoga session at a New York City Gala!

Gopi Kallayil, Chief Evangelist of Brand Marketing at Google speaks at the Gala
Joining co-founders Anne Desmond and Jennifer Ford at the event were Alec and Hilaria Baldwin, actor Kevin Navayne, Ms. Ange Kagame, First Daughter of Rwanda, former Miss Teen USA Kamie Crawford, Event Chairs Jessie and Mark Freschl and Amanda Mintz, Vice Chairs Bob O’Leary and Paul Johnson and Lisa and Alex Binderow, and board members Jill Bauman and Bailey Gimbel, among others.

Hilaria Baldwin leading NYC public school students for an on-stage Yoga performance
Co-founder Jennifer Ford, Gopi Kallayil, and co-founder Ann Desmond
Janice and Dr. Frank Lipman at Bent on Learning 6th Annual Inspire! Gala

Bent on Learning brings yoga to New York City public schools and transforms classrooms into healthier, more compassionate learning environments where kids can thrive.  For 15 years, the organization has been an important treasure in New York City, providing free yoga programs to schools during the academic day, serving 18,000 children to date, and paving the way for making health and happiness an integral part of the curriculum of our schools.