Tag: fundraisers

Reading and drinking in DUMBO

Tuesday, March 4th, 2008 | All Things, Books, Drinks, Eats, Events

At the powerHouse Arena in DUMBO tonight to attend “Read & Drink Night,” a literary fundraiser to benefit the library of Brooklyn’s P.S. 107. Edible Brooklyn‘s editor Gabrielle Langholtz hosted the readings and discussion by three Brooklyn-based authors of recently published books on food and drink.

It’s been years since I attended a bona-fide school bake sale; this one was organized by P.S. 107’s Parent Teacher Association. To accompany our (very good) slices of homemade banana bread, a server ladled out from a large, orange plastic paint bucket, cups of a lethal Cognac/10 Cane Rum/tea punch — mixed to 1690s Bombay government regulations by featured cocktail historian David Wondrich, who knows well of which he writes.

Read and Drink Night

Read and Drink Night

First up: Phoebe Damrosch, whose memoir Service Included: Four-Star Secrets of an Eavesdropping Waiter was released in September 2007. Damrosch read from portions of her book documenting her time as a server for Thomas Keller’s Per Se; her extensive months-long training involved memorizing wine pairings, receiving intricate movement instruction from an 18th-century dance specialist, and learning the provenance of menu ingredients down to “the names of the cows that produced the milk from which our butter was made.” The most entertaining bits were the gossipy snapshots of diners passing through the rarified restaurant; one priceless anecdote involved Damrosch gleefully bonding with one suburban banker over their mutual love of “pot”… before realizing that he in fact expressed a fondness for “pie.” (Uh, whoops.)

Kara Zuaro’s book I Like Food, Food Tastes Good: In the Kitchen with Your Favorite Bands is a collection of recipes gathered from touring rock musicians. Zuaro read from the book’s introduction, and from one of the stories that precede each band’s recipe. I was impressed by the breadth and high profile of her musical subjects: recipes ranged from simple sandwiches (Death Cab for Cutie’s vegan sausage and peanut butter creation) to a wild boar ragù from The Violent Femmes’ bass player Brian Ritchie. (Surprisingly, however, not a single pot brownie in the bunch.)

Finally, former Classics professor, current contributing editor Esquire Wondrich read from Imbibe!, his biography of 19th-century mixologist Jerry Thomas, author of the first known bartending guide, How to Mix Drinks or The Bon Vivant’s Companion (1862). Wondrich made an amusing argument about how the cocktail was America’s first great export, and the country’s introductory contribution to world gastronomic culture.

The audience Q&A was mercifully brief, and spawned a brief discussion over the use of the term “foodie” vs. “foodist” to describe a certain type of food-obsessed individual. Afterwards, the authors (Zuaro and Damrosch pictured below) made themselves available for book-signings:

Damrosch and Zuaro

Read and Drink Night

When in DUMBO, pizza at Grimaldi’s is always a solid choice. And sometimes, you can pick up a nice couple along the way.


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Broadway Sings the Phone Book

Tuesday, November 13th, 2007 | All Things, Events, Music

Broadway stagehands went on strike over the weekend, effectively shuttering 27 Broadway shows, and crippling a $939 million local industry. 8 shows playing in theaters that have separate contracts with the union remained open, including The Ritz — playing at Studio 54, where tonight’s event was scheduled. (The strike would last 19 days, and cost the city some $38 million in lost revenue.)

Broadway Sings the Phone Book” was created by a trio of young producers (Sarah Melissa Rotker, Joe Tropia and Jonathan Tessero), inspired by the sentiment that fans would be willing to listen to their favorite stars “sing the phone book.” The gala concert was sponsored by the KeyZe Company and organized as a fundraiser for the Metro New York Chapter of the The Make-A-Wish Foundation. Since its founding in 1983, the Metro New York chapter has granted nearly 7,000 wishes; in 2007, the organization granted 481 wishes for local children, and facilitated 238 wish assists for children from Make-A-Wish chapters around the world whose wishes involved travel to New York City.

Studio 54

Julie White emceed the festivities. The actress is best known to television audiences for her supporting role as Nadine, the quirky neighbor on ABC’s mid-90s sitcom Grace Under Fire, and was last seen on stage in The Little Dog Laughed for which she won the 2007 Tony Award. I didn’t see White in either of those roles, though I did catch her turn as the mom in this summer’s Transformers movie — Autobots, roll out!

Tonight’s line-up included Avenue Q’s Stephanie D’Abruzzo, Sunset Boulevard’s Alan Campbell, The Drowsy Chaperone’s Mara Davi, Grey Gardens’s Erin Davie, The Threepenny Opera‘s Brian Charles Rooney and Brooke Sunny Moriber, and two eliminated contestants from television’s Grease: You’re the One That I Want! : Austin Miller and Kate Rockwell.

Broadway Sings cast

The cast of Broadway stars (and would-be stars) sang familiar songs… with the lyrics replaced either Mad Lib style (the word game, not the DJ/producer) or with the contents of pages ripped randomly from a phone book or dictionary. Performers were given the option of experimenting, or delivering their selections straight; most chose to embrace the challenge of spontaneity, to varying levels of success and hilarity. Hence: “Suddenly Sanchez.” “There’s a Fine, Fine Line” (one of my favorite songs from Avenue Q) became “There’s a Hot, Hairy Line.” And “Maria” from West Side Story segued into a listing of Marias in the Manhattan phone book (names and addresses only).

Maria.  Say it loud, and ten thousand Marias will answer.”

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