Blog: New York Needs You's BBQ & You
It’s a delicate balance to host an event that manages to be upscale without an heir of pretentiousness. But such was the case on Wednesday night, pairing two of New York City’s most celebrated restaurants with a worthy cause, as Kips Bay’s Riverpark was the hosting site for an event titled “BBQ and You,” a benefit for nonprofit organization New York Needs You. As mentioned in our preview piece last week, the group seeks to make a positive impact on students who are the first in their families to go to college. With just 11% of these ‘first-generation’ students making the leap from matriculation to graduation, the group promotes mentoring, job shadowing, and guest speakers, as well as a variety of different participatory programs and methods to encourage and incite these students toward the completion of their goals.
A breezy summer evening only improved an already picturesque setting at the waterfront restaurant Riverpark. The benefit would be held on the outdoor patio grounds in front of the massive glass building that housed one of New York’s most bandied about dining destinations, in sort of a classy picnic for the well dressed clientele in attendance. With spirits graciously contributed by California’s “One Hope Wine” and tasty pours of Pale Ale from Peak Organic Brewing Company, guests were encouraged to take their time, reveling in the unofficial end of summer celebration.
The dishes prepared by the team at ‘wichcraft and Riverpark were eclectic takes on traditional summer fare and they were delectable to a fault. From the fresh and buttery corn on the cob to the thick, creamy potato salad, the side dishes themselves almost exceeded the excellent main courses being served. Almost. The tender, barbecued chicken was perfectly grilled, mixing its salty seasoned exterior with the hunks of white meat, while the BBQ sauce smothered ribs were big and meaty, needing several napkin wipes to the face to de-grease from the delicious flowing juices. And that’s before mentioning the tasty pieces of jumbo shrimp that, although they required peeling, were well worth our efforts. Plump and succulent, the shellfish bursted with an outpouring of delicious flavor.
The ambiance meanwhile, was both fun and elegant at once. ‘wichcraft co-founder Jeffrey Zurofsky took some time to welcome the guests on hand, with the first generation college graduate himself praising the fine work being done by ‘New York Needs You’ and announcing the launch of sister foundation “New Jersey Needs You.” Throughout the expertly run three hour affair, attendees certainly seemed to be enjoying themselves whether networking alongside each other at the standing high top tables inside the adjacent Riverpark Farm or seated near the short food lines, taking in some of the jazz standards being performed by house band Talisman. If New York Needs You is known for teaching professional skills, some of the impressionable students would have likely learned a great deal about mingling on this night.
Because of its rather concealed location, we’d heard about Riverpark in name only, without ever having been there. But with such a charming location replete with striking views of the East River, it’s sterling reputation and exceptional word of mouth precedes it. And if the food prepared by their team at Wednesday evening’s “BBQ and You” is any indication, we’re looking forward to making our first reservation here shortly. For so many of these tasting events, it’s the participating restaurants and number of associated vendors that make them a drawing card for patrons, as attendees seek sufficient value for their money’s worth. But while the fare being served is what physically satiates you, knowing that you’re making some impact on the life of an aspiring student and potentially helping to shape their future is filling enough on its own.
For more information on how you can get involved with New York Needs You, check out newyorkneedsyou.org. And for reservations or to learn more about the restaurants involved, check out Riverpark and ‘wichcraft.
- Jane Van Arsdale