By the time Stanley Tucci introduced Mario Batali, we'd been well served and fed and serenaded by honoree Jimmy Fallon (his inspirational and original tune was called "Let's Have a Car Wash for Peace"). Mario took the podium and said, "Good evening ladies, gentlemen, esteemed members of the rock and roll hall of fame, and Mr. President." He gave a nod to table #32, where President Clinton, Chelsea Clinton, David Bowie and Iman, Elvis Costello and The Edge were seated.
I recalled five years ago at the first gala, when Ruth Reichl presented Mario with an orange (the Food Bank’s color of fighting hunger) plate as the first ever Food Bank honoree and we all thought - what a brilliant moment. This year President Clinton presented the orange plate to The Edge. It was simply spectacular. Mr. President said, "I hope the fact of all of us being here tonight helps elevate the cause of the Food Bank." Indeed. The Edge spoke of his love for New York City, the energy, the welcome to immigrants and the realization of the American dream. I was impressed with the words of all these worldly, famous men – in that they seemed genuinely touched by the cause and the recognition.
The last lot of the live auction was 'drinkin' wine spo-de-od-ee'. Joe Bastianich offered up a full barrel of his Calabrone Rosso wine from Italy, spectacularly packaged into eight mega-magnum 27-litre bottles, each labeled with an original work of art, painted on canvas by Bono. Emeril Lagasse and Dave Lieberman entered into a bidding war, and after 10 minutes, Emeril took the lot for $200,000. Seems the grass is quite green at the Food Network.
The gala raised funds for the Food Bank's mission to feed 250,000 hungry New Yorkers daily. The evening's take was more than 1.2 million dollars. It's corny and a cliché, but The President, The Edge, Michael Stipe and Stanley Tucci were all correct when they said, "One person can make a difference."
Denis Leary announced the final surprise of the evening: a performance by Elvis Costello. He took the stage with acoustic guitar in hand and sang "Where the Streets Have No Name", with a bit of "Blowin' in the Wind" mashed-up in the middle. Standing ovation.
Go to the snackshot for all the photos.