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Philanthropy has Never Tasted So Good: Housing Works Partners with Tasting Table

Philanthropy has Never Tasted So Good: Housing Works Partners with Tasting Table

Since its launch in 2008, Tasting Table has become the prime source for established and burgeoning food enthusiasts alike to learn about the latest food and drink offerings across the country. The daily email publication offers its legion of loyal readers original content about new restaurants, original recipes, entertaining, cocktails, and events across the country. Tasting Table offers five national editions and five city-specific editions for its readers: San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami and New York.

In addition to its food-culture coverage, Tasting Table also boasts a philanthropic side, and is this year’s media sponsor for Housing Works’ annual “Taste of Home” benefit. Featuring cuisine presented and prepared by New York City’s top chefs, this year’s fundraiser will be co-hosted by Tasting Table’s Editor-in-Chief Scott Hocker, writer and food expert extraordinaire. Scott has written for local, national, and international publications including Sunset, epicurious.com, AFAR, The Art of Eating, OUT, and his cover story for San Francisco Magazine was featured in the Best Food Writing of 2009.

We recently had the opportunity to speak to Scott about Tasting Table’s success, philanthropy, and perhaps most important, the true difference between East and West Coast food culture.

Housing Works: Prior to joining Tasting Table in New York City, you were the senior editor at San Francisco Magazine. A lot has been made about the difference in food culture between the East and West Coasts in terms of presentation, farm-to-table access, and taste. What do you think, myth, reality, or a little of both?

Scott Hocker: Oh boy. My short answer, which involves fighting words for some: The Bay Area is a food and ingredients town; New York is a restaurant town. I think there are equally wonderful ingredients in both the Bay Area and the New York area. But the access is different. There is simply more quantity of great ingredients in the Bay Area. Plus, people in the Bay Area tend to have bigger kitchens and living spaces. So it is easier to cook and entertain. Conversely, the density and mass of New York creates a perfect formula for an especially competitive—and diverse—restaurant culture.

HW: At this year’s “Taste of Home” Housing Works’ fundraiser, which Tasting Table is sponsoring, you and Food Network’s Alex Guarnaschelli will be hosting the exclusive tastings prepared and presented by NYC’s finest chefs. What foods do you most hope to see at this year’s event?

SH: This year’s Taste of Home has a great collection of good eats in the works. I have a pipe dream that Luis Bollo of Salinas will prepare his Catalan noodle dish, rosejat. It would be practically impossible to serve it at a walk around event, but I have my fingers crossed.

HW: Last year you and Geoff Bartakovics, Tasting Table’s CEO, were listed on Out.com’s 100 most compelling people of the year. Why is it important to you to be involved in LGBT issues and participate in events such as “Taste of Home,” which supports those living with and affected by HIV/AIDS and homelessness?

SH: I read Out magazine as a teenager and was always moved by the stories and accomplishments of the Out 100 honorees. Each year, the list celebrates people doing great work in such varied industries. It’s a cliché to say I was honored to be selected, but I was—truly. More important than the recognition though is the power of visibility. And that too is the power of an event like Taste of Home: drawing attention; continuing the conversation; lending support.

HW: Some New York City food trends, such as the cupcake and the macaroon, have come and gone; what food trend(s) do you hope is here to stay, and what’s the best thing you’ve had so far in 2013?

SH: I am an unabashed supporter of what I call “personal” food—dishes you eat that are so singular, they could only come from one chef. A few chefs that meet that criterion: Jason Fox of Commonwealth in San Francisco; Ashley Christensen of Poole’s Diner in Raleigh; and Liza Queen of Potlikker in Brooklyn. I want to see more personal cooking.

As far as the best food I’ve eaten these last two months, I hesitate to use words like “best, ” but the sushi at Bugs in the East Village is superb—and Sho’s cooking is so very much her own. I’m a sucker for Calliope, also in the East Village. I have been a dedicated fan of the cooking of its chefs, Ginevra Iverson and Eric Korsh, since they ran a restaurant in Northern California when I lived there.

HW: What future Tasting Table features can we look forward to in the next year?

SH: Our Best Pastry Chefs feature is imminent. And we have some exciting travel coverage coming soon. It’s going to be quite the year.

This year’s Taste of Home will take place on Monday, March 4th at the Housing Works’ Bookstore Café. VIP Hour will take place 6:00-7:00pm and General Admission will begin at 7:00pm-9:00pm. You can purchase tickets for Taste of Home at the event’s webpage.

Tasting Table is the daily email magazine for foodies. Each day we send our members one delicious story about dining out or cooking at home; cocktails or wines; chefs to know and sommeliers to drink to. We only serve firsthand recommendations that have been thoroughly tested by our editors. There’s no press-release journalism at Tasting Table. Think of Tasting Table as the friend you ask, “Where should I eat tonight?” or the colleague who knows the spot for a $2 taco or a $200 tasting menu. We’re serious eaters who don’t take ourselves too seriously—just like you. Take your seat at Tasting Table by joining today—for free. Sign up at TastingTable.com.

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