Le Bernardin Cooks Up Plan for City Harvest

Eric Ripert, chef of Le Bernardin, estimates a $100k contribution

Satueed cod with endives. Grilled skate with mango. Chocolate peanut butter tart with lemon puree. That's not a menu you'd expect to see at a neighborhood soup kitchen.

But these top-shelf ingredients are served to the neediest New Yorkers every day-- because of a growing commitment from Eric Ripert, chef of Le Bernardin, and City Harvest, the area's largest food rescue organization.

If you think about it, every restaurant, market or cafeteria has leftover food that just can't be sold before it spoils. For years, rather than see edibles go to waste, City Harvest has saved millions of pounds of food by sending trucks to virtually every neighborhood-- in the nick of time.

The agency has recruited dozens of restaurants which donate items daily. And Tuesday, Ripert sweetened the pot: pledging to donate $1 for every customer who dines at Le bernardin in 2009. He guestimates that will mean $100,000 to help feed the hungriest.

He'll also continue to contribute food, which he keeps ready in a special refrigerator. "It's a good feeling," he told me this morning, "to be delivering a product we believe in artistically, but also, nothing is going to waste. There's a lot of vegetables and protein going to people who need it."

For City Harvest, this year is shaping up to be an enormous challenge. The recession is draining resources at food banks, soup kitchens and mobile markets. For more on what organizers at the food-rescue effort have encountered lately, just click here. http://cityharvest.org/home.aspx?catid=0&pg=126

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