2009 April 22

Food for Thought

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President Bill Clinton and Jon Bon Jovi President Bill Clinton and Jon Bon Jovi
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(NEW YORK) “Will you all leave Jon Bon Jovi alone?” pleaded Stanley Tucci. The rock star and honoree at the Food Bank for New York City’s 2009 Can-Do Awards was swarmed with friends and photo-hungry fans, but master of ceremonies Tucci just wanted to get dinner started. And for good reason--with chefs like Anthony Bourdain, Rocco DiSpirito, Rachael Ray and event co-chair Mario Batali in the room, the food was sure to be impressive. Of course, Bon Jovi and Tucci weren’t the only attendees whose livelihood didn’t depend on la cuisine: Bono, Michael Stipe (along with Batali and Susan Cahn, another co-chair of the dinner), Jimmy Fallon, Helena Christensen, Isaac Mizrahi, Mariska Hargitay and more came out to Chelsea Piers for the silent auction, live auction, dinner and awards ceremony.

“It's a crime that in the richest time of the richest culture of the richest country of all time, that there is even one person--let alone 18 percent of people in this country--that go to bed hungry every day,” said Batali. “This is a very easy thing to do. We invite a lot of our high-rollin’, fancy fallutin’ friends to a dinner. I see them at dinners all the time, but generally they’re paying me--now they’re paying to help feed the hungry. We’ll probably raise $1 million tonight. That’s five million meals!” Batali, a five-year member of the Food Bank's board, has chaired the past four events, and he pulled out the stops for his big night by matching his signature orange Crocs to his shirt.

After the shrimp salad and steak with carmelized onion and creamed spinach had been devoured, awards were given to Rev. Melony Samuels of the Bed Stuy Campaign Against Hunger and Bon Jovi (who was presented by Kenneth Cole and his wife, Maria Cuomo Cole). But the night was far from over, and a serious surprise was in store for the rocker: completely unbeknownst to Bon Jovi, Bill Clinton arrived to congratulate him. The evening ended with a performance by  R.E.M.’s Joseph Arthur and Mike Mills, and guests filed out at the end of the night—full and happy, and knowing that their contributions were helping New Yorkers in need of a similar feeling.

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