Red Rooster Harlem Hosts A Holiday Food Drive

Since the holidays are truly about giving back to the community, Red Rooster is hosting a food drive to help feed those in need this holiday season. Starting this Monday, December 12th  until Tuesday, December 20th, you can help us feed the hungry by donating non-perishable foods and canned goods. Items can be dropped off at Red Rooster's Nook, between the hours of 8am-5pm. At the end of the week, all donations will go to City Harvest who will then distribute them to needy families in New York.

So help spread the holiday cheer this year by helping give one of the greatest gifts to those in need- food. Here are some items that are needed most by City Harvest:  canned fruit, canned vegetables, peanut butter (plastic jars), mac and cheese (packaged), hot and cold cereal (packaged and family-sized). 

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Alex's Lemonade Stand Fundraiser

Who would've thought that a child's simple lemonade stand could someday become a huge powerhouse nonprofit that raises millions of dollars a year for the sole purpose of cancer research and treatment? Well that's exactly what Alexandra Scott was able to achieve as her dying wish through her idea for Alex's Lemonade Stand. Alex's Lemonade Stand is a cancer charity that has raised more than $45 million fund more than 200 cutting-edge research projects, create a travel program to help support families of children receiving treatment, and develop resources to help people everywhere affected by childhood cancer.

A couple days ago, I had the honor of participating in a fundraising dinner for Alex's Lemonade Stand, with 30 or so of my chef colleagues. The event space was donated by Chef Jonathan Waxman and the organization invited 30 renowned chefs to share their dishes with donors to this great cause. I cooked that night alongside great names like Tom Colicchio, Alex Guarnaschelli, Franklin Becker, Bill Telepan, Jonathan Waxman, Tim Love, and Tony Mantuano. Each chef had a table of 10 guests to whom they served a unique menu of the chef's own creation.

Not only will I always remember this event for its great cause and the amazing talents all in one place, but also the design of the event that was unlike any other tasting I've previously attended. At this dinner, we had the opportunity to actually cook our food and put together a 3-4 course dinner while the guests looked on around the room. At most tastings, there is very little cooking and a lot of greeting and picture taking. At this great dinner, we were able to really focus on the food and then interact with individual guests at our tables when we presented our dishes. My menu consisted of a Gravlax Poke with Purple Mustard, Jerk Bacon over Cowpeas served with seared Octopus, Coffee-cured Duck with a Foie Gras Terrine and a Watercress salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette. Finally for dessert we served Sweet Potato Donuts. The food was followed by a beautiful ballet performance of The Nutcracker and a live auction.

I had a great time seeing all my colleagues and I definitely helping out such a great cause that helps hundreds of children with cancer each year. Check out my photos below and click here to learn more about Alex's Lemonade Stand.

Photos: Eden Fesehaye 

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Eco-Friendly Chef Creates a Menu to Save the Tropical Rainforest

By: Michele Wolfson

Eco-minded Singapore based chef Andre Chiang has developed his restaurant's menu to become a local sustainable dining spot in a very unique way. His latest endeavor is raising awareness though his latest eatery, Restaurant Andre. Here's the kicker- he plans to save the rainforest by serving what an orangutan eats-wild ferns, orchid leaves and durian flowers, among other plants.

Taiwan-born, French trained, Andre Chiang is known as one of the most talented and skilled chefs working in Singapore today. Chef Andre prepares what he terms, "French Nouvelle Cuisine", which essentially means that his food is exquisitely well-conceived, small portions of artfully plated and light French fare.

Now, he has taken his food to a locally-sourced level by obtaining his ingredients from Sintang, West Kalimantan on Borneo and giving villagers the chance to export ingredients such as dried wild mushrooms, edible plants and even honey so they will be able to generate revenue that gives them a lifeline to help keep the rain forest alive. He is optimistic that involving villagers as foragers in his project will stop them from aiding reckless deforestation.

Chef Chiang is calling one of his dishes an "Orangutan Salad" and he hopes that the meal will have diners thinking about saving the creature behind the dish's name. "If they (orangutans) don't have a rain forest, they don't have these ingredients, and they have nothing to eat. The 'Orangutan Salad' will feature between five to eight plants-including wild ferns, wild tree mushrooms, wild figs, tree berries, orchid leaves and durian flowers" said Chef Chiang.

Promoting local, sustainable and eco-friendly ways to dine has become an important issue to more and more well-known chefs on a global level. Cookbook author and food justice activist, Bryant Terry and chef and owner of NYC local, organic, sustainable restaurant Bell Book & Candle, John Mooney are just two other names in the food world that are actively making a difference to try and promote the importance of preparing food in an environmentally-friendly way.

When it comes to tropical rainforests, Borneo and Sumatra represent 1.3% of Indonesia's landmass but they support 10% of its known plant species, 12.5% of its mammals, and 17% of its other vertebrates. Borneo alone has 10,000-15,000 species of flowering plants, 3000 species of trees, 2000 orchids, and 1000 ferns. One tiny 1.12 hectare Bornean rainforest plot included 264 tree species and that did not include its palms, lianas, orchids, ferns and other vegetation.

Each of these organisms is dependent on the whole ecosystem functioning. If entire areas of forest are clear-cut, the whole system fails; habitats for thousands of species disappear, and are lost forever. Chef Chiang hopes that dishes at Restaurant Andre will be vehicles to help raise awareness about deforestation and his devotion to the cause will encourage people to take action.

It should be noted that a meal at Restaurant Andre isn't cheap (the bill can come to roughly $200 per person) but this is the norm for a lot of high-end establishments in this region. At least at Restaurant Andre, the patron is helping to support a good cause. The restaurant was voted as one of San Pellegrino's top 100 restaurants in the world this year within a year of its opening and it takes a month to get a reservation.

If Chef Chiang can continue to push his latest long-term sustainable goal in this eco-friendly direction, then there is no doubt that it will very quickly establish itself not just as one of Singapore's best restaurants, but one of Asia's best.

Photo: aZAMirul 

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Give the Gift of Hope This Holiday Season

By: Melaina Gasbarrino

The most wonderful time of year has sprung upon us once again and this holiday season its not only about giving the perfect gift to the ones you love it's about extending that concept into something so much larger that can show you how wonderfully magical the holiday season really can be. When many people's minds were on Black Friday or getting those special deals on the holiday gift must-haves, we often forget the true spirit of the holidays, which is can be a simple as the joy giving to those in need.

This year you can put a sparkle in many people's eyes if you decide on a more unconventional holiday gift. Many nonprofits today make it easy to buy a family in need essential services or income provisions through simple donation. What makes it even more special, is that you can consider a donation in someone else's name as a gift to them during the holidays.

The idea is really quite simple; it's all about extending a dream of life and happiness for those in less developed countries. It's a gift of hope, which can be as large as providing health care to giving the gift of clean water. With so many different nonprofit companies throughout the nation that enable us to give the gift of hope its no wonder many are flocking to the idea of lending a hand this holiday season. Think about it this way, providing a year's supply of water purification tablets for less than $30 is the most basic way for third world nation families to decrease the spread of deadly diseases. So in the grand scheme of things, by providing a little bit of hope for families who don't have as much as me or you, this certainly is the way to go if you are eager to start changing the world for the better today.

Here are a few different organizations that put a sprinkle of hope during the holiday season:

Food For The Hungry: With a mission to end physical and spiritual hunger worldwide, Food For The Hungry provides an extensive gift catalog to 'transform lives around the world'. Choose from many unique gift-giving ideas such as income generating gifts to education.

Heifer International: By enabling a family to become self-reliant in any less developed country is a gift in itself. Heifer International goes above and beyond that with their uniquely, extensive gift catalog. Buy a Heifer (a cow) for $500 and enable a family to have the gift that continually gives.

Save The Children Foundation: For as little as $25 you will enable a child to be apart of a preschool program and enable them to have the necessary Early Childhood Development School Kit that every little child would just love to have. With essential school supplies the future of a child is ever so brighter.

Give the gift of happiness this holiday season when you choose to provide for a family many miles away. It will not only warm your heart, but will put a smile on the face of a family who didn't think they would be plentifully celebrating this holiday season.

Melaina is from a small town in Ontario, Canada and as an avid environmentalist with a passion for focusing on healthy living. Having traveled the world and written about it every step of the way, she one day hopes to develop unique environmental educational programs for kids. 

Photos: theCHman

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Helping the Needy Even After the Holidays

By: Michele Wolfson

The leaves are falling off the trees, it's getting dark before 5 pm and our breath is now visible as we briskly walk from one destination to the next in this biting weather. You know what that means, don't you? It's that time of year again where the Christmas songs and commercials play non-stop as they remind us all that the holidays are here and 'tis the season of giving!

While it is wonderful that food banks, soup kitchens, and other organizations are brimming at the seams with earnest volunteers and donation bins are overflowing around this time of year, it's disheartening to see this kind of enthusiasm to help the needy die down after the New Year.

Year after year, kids are constantly hearing the message that the holidays are all about asking for whatever they want. It's the season of giving, but mostly with them on the receiving end and parents obliging to their requests of a new video game system or other new devices that are coming out on the market. Some folks stress the importance to help out the underprivileged and get them involved in worthy causes around the holidays. But what happens when the holidays are over and come January and February, donations are slim?

Julie Rosenthal, the mom who runs a small nonprofit called Food on the 15th, has seen it before. The organization involves children with helping the needy throughout the entire year. Food on the 15th always makes its deliveries around the 15th of the month of nutritious non-perishable regular and diabetic foods to senior citizens who face economic hardships in Howard County. When the Social Security checks begin to run out and tough choices between medication and food get made, this organization feels that no one should have to make that choice. It's a year-round operation, not a feel-good, holiday-only effort.

"Parents and children work together on this project, creating more family time and getting the family involved with an objective of exposing children to philanthropy and community service at a young age.  The hope is that they will continue philanthropic endeavors when they are adults and, in turn, teach their children about giving," says Rosenthal.

It's wonderful to be able to donate money to organizations, but it is also an incredible feeling to be able to volunteer your time, energy and creativity to a project, especially when it's a team effort- so why not get involved all year round? We live in one of the richest nations in the world where many struggle with the ultimate parent challenge: How do I raise my child to not be an entitled brat?

The project, which has delivered 9,500 bags of groceries to hundreds of low-income seniors over the past six years, does more than teach kids about giving and sharing and the socioeconomic inequities among that 99 percent of us. It is designed to introduce children of affluence to people who are struggling.

"I thought my kids were way too focused on themselves. There was dance and drama and all that, but it was all about them," says Rosenthal, an Asian Studies program management specialist at the University of Maryland Baltimore County. She needed something that would make her kids understand how privileged they were compared to others around them. That's how this organization came into existence. Hopefully, this will inspire other places around the world to get their children involved in helping others whether it's December or July.

Photo: Omega Man

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