In a spacious white tent. Next to a rolling green golf course. In the sleepy town of Demarest. Some of the world’s best chefs and legendary athletes gathered in the name of charity and good food.
I was there, too.
Celebrities and industry big wigs bought tickets to the sold-out Celebrity Chefs and Friends golf tournament at Alpine Country Club to benefit City Harvest, New York City’s largest food rescue organization.
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I snacked on tender lamb lollipops smothered in pomegranate and pumpkin seed gremolata from chef Josh Capon (of lure Fish Bar in New York City) and pretended to know things about sports. Par. Birdie. Hole-in-one.
Folks mingled at the bar, sipping wine, champagne and cocktails made with fresh botanicals and fancy syrups. At first, I got a daiquiri, tszujed up with apple and ginger, created by David Libespere of Manhattan cocktail bar 67 Orange Street. But then I switched to beer — much more my speed as a humble craft beer lover.
Perhaps the most thrilling interaction of the night was when Gary Player sidled next to me at the COTE Korean Steakhouse booth. I gripped a red leaf lettuce wrap, holding together soy-marinated short rib and tangy pickled radish.
“This is really good,” I said. He smiled at me and nodded. Was I more excited to speak to the golf legend than to eat that gorgeous, tender short rib hot off the grill? I’ll let you decide.
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The Alpine Country Club may seem like an odd place for the likes of Player, Food Network icon Geoffrey Zakarian, acclaimed chef Marcus Samuelsson, Yankees great CC Sabathia and golfer/model Paige Spiranac (all brought together by man-about-town Herb Karlitz, CEO and president of Karlitz & Co.) to party. But, not really.
Celebrities like Chris Rock, Lil’ Kim, Mary J Blige and Stevie Wonder have all owned homes in Alpine, though the country club is technically located a town over in Demarest. And if you didn’t know about the famous residents, the multimillion-dollar homes you drive past on your way to the country club should tip you off.
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So, it was not so shocking to find thousands of dollars of Snake River Farm steak glistening over an open charcoal flame.
Or an experienced line chef slicing the beef, adding flecks of salt and serving it with the recommendation to “eat the lighter eye of ribeye first, then move on to the more fibrous CAB ribeye.”
Or a week-long trip to a villa that sleeps 16 in Southern Italy being auctioned.
Or the impressively tall CC Sabathia taking selfies with Alpine Country Club members.
Or airy pear cheesecakes from Jayce Baudry Pastry cut to look like geometric modern sculptures.
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Or pastry chef Francois Payard (formerly of Le Bernardin and Restaurant Daniel) picking on a plate of buttery steak from one of the booths.
Yet, the most impressive thing to me was that everyone had taken time out of their Monday afternoon to raise money for City Harvest, which has rescued millions of pounds of food that would have otherwise been wasted, to feed millions of people in New York City struggling with food insecurity.
It was also nice to see North Jersey’s best represented at the event. The approachable Marcus Samuelsson, for example, of Marcus B&P in Newark and Marcus at Nohu Rooftop in Weehawken, who chatted with me for a few minutes, admitting he didn’t know much about golf.
You wouldn’t think this sophisticated crowd would know too much about beer, either. But when I saw the tower of Hackensack Brewing Co.’s Beach Badge lager — a favorite of Jersey craft beer drinkers like me — surrounded by all the pageantry, I had to smile.
This article originally appeared on NorthJersey.com: Our food reporter attends a star-studded Alpine Country Club event to see how the rich and famous noshInternet Explorer Channel Network