Students benefit from annual culinary fundraiser and see a bright opportunity ahead in kitchens
By Francine Cohen

Photo by Jerry Ruotolo

On this Independence Day 2012 we want to share with you a heartwarming story of independence creating a bright future for our industry, as seen through the lens of the C-CAP benefit which took place a few months ago. This year’s annual gala, the most successful in C-CAP’s history, raised over $900,000, thereby creating real opportunities for a whole new crop of budding chefs.

The annual C-CAP ( gala at Pier Sixty ( was the back drop for more than 800 guests who enjoyed an evening of signature dishes presented by 38 of New York’s top chefs with wine donated by The Charmer Sunbelt Group ( Over 60 New York City C-CAP high school culinary students and graduates assisted the chefs of these renowned restaurants. “This walk-around tasting event raised funds to support C-CAP’s mission of providing scholarships, education, and career opportunities in the culinary arts to underserved youth who are interested in pursuing careers in the restaurant and foodservice industry,” says C-CAP’s president, Susan Robbins. “For more than 20 years, we have been breaking the cycle of poverty for hundreds of qualified students across the country. We continue to manage the largest independent scholarship program and have awarded over $34 million in scholarships.”

Dreams of working in restaurant kitchens come to life for so many disadvantaged youths thanks to Careers for Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP). Started 22 years ago by Richard Grausman as a small local non-profit, C-CAP has grown into a major nationwide program providing support for thousands of youths wishing to enter into the exciting field of the Culinary Arts. Last year alone, C-CAP impacted the lives of over 12,000 students in 164 schools through training, career service and scholarships.

The scholarship pool grew deeper at the 2012 gala which honored Michael McCarty, Proprietor of Michael’s NY ( and Michael’s Santa Monica ( “This year, C-CAP was thrilled to honor restaurateur, art collector, entrepreneur, vintner, and chef Michael McCarty for his remarkable achievements and contributions to the culinary industry and his commitment to nurturing the next generation of chefs,” says C-CAP’s founder and chairman, Richard Grausman.

McCarty, known for leaving an indelible impression on his guests, is often recognized as the Father of California Cuisine, having been a pioneer in the movement to feature local and seasonal products in his restaurants. For him, localvore isn’t just a title; it’s a way of life. Along with Alice Waters, McCarty pioneered the organic, sustainable, ingredient-driven, farm-to-table explosion of New American regional food that is now the standard for American chefs and restaurateurs. McCarty has indoctrinated some highly visible chefs into his way of thinking as folks like Jonathan Waxman, Mark Peel, Nancy Silverton and Sang Yoon got their starts in his kitchen and carry on his legacy through their own success.

Photo by Jerry Ruotolo

McCarty’s success was highlighted at the gala by honorary chair, and dear friend, Bette Midler, who said of him, “Michael opened his midtown Manhattan location in 1989, a decade after the debut of his groundbreaking Michael’s restaurant in Santa Monica, proving once again to our disbelief that he can be in two places at once while setting the bar for the most outstanding American fare in the nation. From the beginning he has dedicated himself to offering his guests the finest food and wine, which are presented with casual yet impeccable service in rooms filled with modern art treasures.”

She continues, “Our family has traveled extensively with Michael’s over the years, and we have a deep appreciation for his love and ability to seek ingredients and create environments of the finest quality, while maintaining the comfort and integrity of everything he touches. He is truly a genius in the worlds of fine dining and hospitality, which are the key attributes to be integrated in the classic restaurants of today.”

She concludes, “Given his passion for education and helping those in need, it is truly fitting that Michael is being honored by C-CAP.”

As this year’s honoree, Michael McCarty received the C-CAP Honors Award. Past recipients of the C-CAP Honors Award include Michael Lomonaco, Marcus Samuelsson, Drew Nieporent, Alfred Portale, Lidia Bastianich, Thomas Keller, Charlie Palmer, Danny Meyer & Michael Romano, Daniel Boulud, Jacques Pepin, Egidiana & Sirio Maccioni, Nina & Tim Zagat, and Saul Zabar & Stanley Zabar.

CBS2 News Co-Anchor Kristine Johnson was the Master of Ceremonies. Sylva Senat, a C-CAP alumnus and Executive Chef of Tashan, the new, highly acclaimed Indian fusion restaurant in Philadelphia, was the C-CAP graduate speaker. The Chef Chair was Marcus Samuelsson of Red Rooster. Guests had the opportunity to meet Wilma Stephenson and Fatoumata Dembele, two of the stars of the Emmy nominated documentary Pressure Cooker, directed by Jennifer Grausman & Mark Becker, which focused on a culinary arts teacher in Philadelphia and how she improved the lives of her students through the C-CAP program.
Though our founding fathers may have focused more on educating their neighbors about their rights and responsibilities as independent citizens of the United States of America, than on food, the fact of the matter is that July 4th holiday has become centered on food and the people who cook it. And so, on this day, whether you’re working on your tan or working on the line, never forget that with programs like C-CAP there’s a little Uncle Sam out there looking out for all of us, providing the opportunity to achieve our dreams.

Participating Chefs:
Chef Chair: Marcus Samuelsson, Red Rooster
Chef Missy Robbins, A Voce Columbus
Chef Philip DeMaiolo, Abigail Kirsch PIER SIXTY
Chef George Mendes, Aldea
Chef Jason Weiner, Almond
Chef Toni Robertson, Asiate
Chef Yuhi Fujinaga, Bar Basque
Chef Jonathan Waxman, Barbuto
Chef Waldy Malouf, Beacon
Chef Philippe Bertineau, Benoit
Chef Clifford Crooks, BLT Steak
Chef Dan Barber, Blue Hill/ Blue Hill at Stone Barns
Pastry Chef Thiago Silva*, Catch
Chef Tom Colicchio, Colicchio & Sons
Chefs Daniel Boulud and Sandro Micheli, Daniel
Chef John Fraser, Dovetail
Chef Joey Fortunato, Extra Virgin
Chef Fortunato Nicotra, Felidia
Chef Alfred Portale, Gotham Bar & Grill
Chef Ayumu Matsuda, kibō
Chef Maria Loi, Loi Restaurant NYC
Chef Kyung Up Lim, Michael’s NY
John-Carlos Kuramoto, Michael’s Santa Monica
Pastry Chef Marc Aumont, The Modern
Chef Scott Campbell, New Leaf Restaurant & Bar
Chef Matt Hoyle, Nobu Fifty Seven
Chef Ben Pollinger, Oceana
Chef Kevin Lasko, Park Avenue Winter
Chef Michael Lomonaco, Porter House New York
Chef Marcus Samuelsson, Red Rooster
Chef Matteo Bergamini, SD26
Pastry Chef Sarabeth Levine, Sarabeth’s
Chef Shaun Hergatt, SHO – Shaun Hergatt
Michael Tong, Shun Lee Palace
Chef Kerry Heffernan, Southgate
Chef Kelvin Fernandez*, The Strand American Bistro
Chef William Telepan, Telepan
Chef Carmen Quagliata, Union Square Cafe

In addition, participating C-CAP Graduate Chefs include:
Mehdi Chellaoui, Founder & Chocolatier at Dörk Chocolate *C-CAP Alumnus

Photo by Jerry Ruotolo