Thursday, May 22, 2008
Special Report: VegNews in NYC (Day 4)
Who: VN Publisher Joseph Connelly + VN Associate Publisher Colleen Holland
What: Day four of a five-day business trip
Where: New York City
When: May 17, 2008
Why: Farm Sanctuary Gala + Veggie Pride Parade + meetings galore with colleagues, friends, and magazine partners
The Scoop: The sun was shining, and we were back in business. Today, Manhattanites were out in full-force, including 8,000 of them running a 10k race in Central Park. Our very own Joseph Connelly and Lantern Books’ Martin Rowe were also running today’s race and both performed exceptionally well (despite the humidity, according to California-based Joseph, and hilly terrain, said East Coaster Martin). To celebrate their achievement, we headed over to Whole Foods Columbus Circle for coffee and vegan scones (loved the oatmeal-cranberry) and spent the next several hours catching up. Martin, a very proper Englishman-turned-New Yorker, not only runs Lantern Books but also writes, edits, and works with wife Mia at her non-profit, Brighter Green. We decided to burn-off breakfast by meandering through the streets of NY back to our hotel. Before we knew it, it was time to primp and prep for the night’s big event: the annual Farm Sanctuary Gala.
If you have a chance to attend one of these glitzy fundraiser galas, do it. Not only does the money go to great organizations, you’re guaranteed a divine multi-course meal, celebrity sightings, engaging conversation with tablemates, and a fabulous goodie bag. In fact, we will state for the record that Farm Sanctuary galas have the best goodie bags of any event. But we digress …
Held at the unbelievably gorgeous Cipriani Wall Street (a former bank-turned-event-venue), we hit the cocktail reception at 5pm. Held on the mezzanine overlooking the grand ballroom, we sipped bellinis and nibbled on heirloom cherry tomatoes filled with pesto, faux chicken with spicy mango chutney, and sautéed mushrooms in crispy phyllo baskets. We had the opportunity to chat with David Life and Sharon Gannon of Jivamukti Yoga School, Russell Simmons, Dennis Kucinich, Shawn Colvin, Persia White, and many other wonderful individuals who are truly making a difference. We bumped into soy-candle entrepreneur Ari Solomon and green goddess Chloé Jo Berman—check out our sizzling July+August 2008 summer edition for features on both.
We sauntered down to the main dining room where 600 guests were being seated for dinner. Host Heather Mills (the former Mrs. Paul McCartney) had been working with the Cipriani culinary team to create an incredible three-course meal for the evening (rumor has it that she’s launching a line of vegan food products and has a cooking show in the works). We normally wouldn’t dwell on a dinner roll, but this was the best vegan dinner roll ever. It was warm, flaky, and buttery—we must learn how they did it. We begin with a “chicken”-minestrone soup, which was flavorful and delicious. We move on to a large arugula salad tossed in a light vinaigrette. For the entrée, Heather created a lasagna with béchamel sauce and tomato ragu—a unique take on the traditional Italian dish. Finally, slices of chocolate torte are served with fancy trays of hazelnut clusters and chocolate-dipped strawberries, and the evening’s festivities begin.
Television personality Melissa Rivers was the emcee of the night, and presenters included VN’s Rory Freedman, Emily Deschanel, Loretta Swit, and Persia White. A wonderful and moving speech by Farm Sanctuary’s Executive Director Jeff Lydon brought the crowd to its feet. We learned about this year’s victories, challenges, and, in two poignant videos produced by Joshua Katcher, met many of the animals rescued by the organization. The evening was truly inspiring.
Then, Susie Essman (funniest comedian ever) of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” hosted a live auction, where a Peter Max painting went for $15,000 and lunch in Los Angeles with Rory Freedman sold for $3,000 (see photo below with VN Publisher Joseph Connelly flanked by VN columnists, Rory and Dan Piraro). A special performance by Grammy Award-winning artist Shawn Colvin got people moving, and a mega-dessert buffet hosted by the famous VeganTreats carried us into the late night. On our way out, we picked up our goodie bags, bid farewell, and ended another perfect NY day.
Press Pass Giveaway! As we mentioned, the Farm Sanctuary galas have, hands-down, the best goodie bags of any event we attend. Swag includes cookies, soy candles, a cookbook, body wash, dog food, body crème, tea, chocolate, energy bars, and more, all packed into a Matt & Nat metallic tote bag. So just for you, we’re giving away one to a very special Press Pass reader. Just tell us why you deserve this bag by June 15 at noon, and we’ll choose one response. Good luck!