Chef David Burke is back to lead one of September’s best culinary events, two decades after he first lent a hand.
Table to Table, a community-based organization, provides prepared and perishable foods to the hungry in Bergen, Essex, Hudson and Passaic counties. On September 21, chefs from the Garden State—and New Jersey Monthly’s 30 Best Restaurants list—are hosting the organization’s annual Chefs Gala. Notables include Tom Valenti of Jockey Hollow Bar & Kitchen (Morristown) and Ben Pollinger of The Hill (Closter), as well as New York restaurateurs Peter Kelly (Xaviars Restaurant Group) and John Mooney (Bell Book & Candle).
Burke (whom we recently profiled) is in charge of desserts and will also assisting superstar chef and entrepreneur Rocco DiSpirito with the main course.
“By being a guest, you are contributing so much more to what you’re giving than what you’re getting,” Burke says.
In addition to a delicious meal, the night includes a live and a silent auction. To attend or sponsor, visit TabletoTable.org.
Two decades of involvement with Table to Table is quite a milestone.
David Burke: Yes! The generosity of the communities that attend these events is outstanding. We try to do a couple of solid events a year to keep people coming. It is such a super, well-run organization, and we raise money for the truckers and the workers involved with Table to Table. There’s a lot of work that goes into the event, but you have to think about how many people you can feed. It makes a huge difference.
Is this your first year leading the gala?
I don’t always lead the culinary teams. I usually have one of my restaurants involved. This year I’m helping put the team together, and the team is exceptional. Peter Kelly, a chef from Nyack, New York, is coming—and he usually emcees—so it might turn into a roast!
What’s it like getting all these chefs together?
People turn to chefs for nurturing and resources. As chefs, our time is valuable. But we are in a position where a little bit of our time, and coming together, can help a lot of people. It’s also a really nice way for some chefs to get together and see each other.
What went into prepping and choosing the menu?
Lots of phone calls! Just to make sure all our menus are cohesive. It’s good to make sure there is a balance to the meal. The hardest part was getting everyone on the phone! It’s easy to agree on stuff, but we are all so busy.
What do you have planned for dessert?
I recently acquired the Dixie Lee Bakery [in Keansburg], so that’s why I chose to handle dessert. I think we’ll do a black-and-white cookie sundae. Maybe some kind of pie or an old-school bakery favorite that is modernized. Maybe the Not-So-Humble Pie, which is Key lime pie served with a berry salad and sprayed with gold leaf. It has meringue shards, too.
Why is it important for you to give back?
Doing good things always makes me feel good. Being involved is helpful, and raising awareness is important. There are people who depend on us to feed them to get through their days. I now live in Monmouth County, but this keeps me tied to the northern part of New Jersey.