By Walter Rutledge
On Thursday, April 5, board members and supporters of University Settlement attended a champagne reception celebrating the non-profit’s upcoming gala, Exceptional Vintages: Making all the Difference. The gala will take place on Tuesday, April 24 at 82Mercer will be an Epicurean’s delight.
Board member and Honorary Chair James Finkel, introduced Master Chef Jacques Pepin. He shared Pepin’s rich history as a Frenchman and an immigrant. “… he (Pepin) has served as the personal chef to three heads of state in the late fifties. In 1959, he moved to New York… The Howard Johnson Corporation took him away from all this gourmet food and made him the director of research for ten years. From there he launched into his media career, with television and Julia Childs. Jacques has received two of the highest honors in France. He is a Chevalier de L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (1997) and a Chevalier de L’Ordre du Mérite Agricole (1992). In October 2004, he received France’s ultimate civilian recognition, the Légion d’honneur. Jacques still has so much energy and still is teaching, still lending his name to a lot of great causes.”
Master Chef Jacques Pepin was a personable and witty speaker. With self-effacing humor he anecdotally shared his admirable life and career. One of his crowning moments was when he said, “someone a few days ago introduced me and said that I served under three French Presidents—but the three of them are dead.” Witticisms aside from 1956 to 1958 Pépin was the personal chef to three French heads of state, including Charles de Gaulle. He has published 27 books and launched 12 acclaimed public television series including a Daytime Emmy Award winning television show co-hosted with Julia Child.
Pepin then announced the plans for the University Settlement’s 8th Annual Fine Wine Dinner & Auction. Pepin and Master Pastry Chef Jacques Torres have designed an unforgettable five-course menu that will be paired with extraordinary wines. The Wine Program will be under the direction of Master Sommelier Scott Carney. Each table at the gala will be directed by a sommelier for the evening, which will include guest sommeliers are from the best restaurants in New York City.
University Settlement’s mission is to assist in creating a self-reliant and productive citizenry, which builds a brighter future for our whole community. Their commitment to the basic American credo assists twenty-five thousand New Yorkers each year with quality day care, exciting, nurturing and motivating after-school programs, English classes, and understanding caseworkers. These are among the ways University Settlement makes a real impact. For more information about University Settlement and the upcoming April 24 Exceptional Vintages: Making all the Difference gala visit www.universitysettlement.org or call (212) 453-0213.
In Photos: 1) University Settlement 2) Champaign donated by Henriot 3) Master Chef Jacques Pepin 4) Pepin and Walter Rutledge
Photos credit: 1) Courtesy of University Settlement Archives 2,3,4,Gregory Partanio photographer