By Lil Nickelson
On Wednesday, December 13th, 2017 US Foods, together with Chef Marcus Samuelsson held an exclusive end of year celebration that started at 6pm in Ginny’s Supper Club in the village of Harlem.The event was billed as a taste of 2018 trends that will drive menus in the New Year that would give participants the opportunity to connect with local chefs and restaurateurs. It was so much more for me.
First let me state that Chef Marcus Samuelsson is truly amazing person with the amount of philanthropic work he’s involved in along with his family life, his daily hustle of writing cookbooks, appearances on television shows, opening new restaurants and maintaining his established restaurants. Chef Marcus of the Marcus Samuelsson Group and Mark Weiss, Chief Investment Officer for RFR Holding LLC are Co-Chairs of C-CAP’s National Board of Directors. C-CAP stands for Careers through Culinary Arts Program, which is a national non-profit that educates, and guides underserved high school students toward a bright future.
In 1990, cookbook author and educator Richard Grausman piloted a program in twelve New York City high schools to teach French cooking in Home Economics classes. His intention was to teach American youth about the satisfaction and value of home cooking. Grausman created the nonprofit Careers through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP). His goal was to enhance the culinary arts curriculum in public schools and better prepare underserved students for college and career opportunities in the restaurant and hospitality industry. Today C-CAP has operated continuously for over 25 years and has made a difference in the lives of hundreds of thousands of young people.
C-CAP operates in seven locations across the country. New York City remains the headquarters while the other programs are in Arizona (statewide); Chicago; Hampton Roads, Virginia; and the Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. regions.
C-CAP provides cooking competitions for scholarships, job training and internships, teacher support, college advising, lifetime career guidance, and product donations to classrooms. In addition to the delicious h’ordeuvres that were flowing from Ginny’s Supper Club kitchen, a cooking competition had taken place with US Foods customers from across the U.S. utilizing new products that US Foods has come up with the assistance of Chef Marcus. I went over to the side of the room where their creations were in a side room and I sampled each one and liked all of them.
Early in the evening I struck up a conversation with a gentleman who turned out to be Chef Darius Peacock, who has appeared on the cooking reality show “Chopped” three times. Chef Darius mentioned how he was attending the event to meet up with his good friend Neff that was in town. I asked him if he meant Chef Cary Neff that wrote “Conscious Cuisine?” He replied yes; well I’m a big fan on Chef Neff and his cookbook but Darius advised me not to drool over him; “his head will get too big,” he stated. I reminded him that I am a native New Yorker; we don’t drool over anyone.
Later that evening when the three black male chefs got together in a conversation I asked if I could take their photo because to me this was a moment that needed to be captured in a picture. Chef Darius handed me his cell phone to take the picture and I was so pleased to have been there to witness the occasion. When I first became acquainted with Chef Neff he was leading the culinary team at Miraval Resort & Spa in Estania, Arizona; one of those $5,000 per week spas. Today he is a member of C-Cap’s National Advisory Board and is Vice President, Corporate Culinary Support for Morrison Healthcare in Sandy Springs, GA. Chef Darius Peacock is Director of Culinary for York Street Market, a division of Lorenzo Food Group in Englewood, NJ.
US Foods photographed sensed this was a moment as well and did what he was hired to do. I never got to take my photo with my phone, but Chef Darius graciously sent me the photo I took with his phone so I’m happy. I plan on having follow up talks with both Chef Darius and Neff. I went home a very happy foodie and food writer. Marcus, what’s next for you? I hope you to get to play as hard as you work.