Nearly 700 guests, 22 restaurants, two “Mayor Goodmans” and countless supporters raised $100,000 for Red Cross Hurricane Sandy relief efforts at a unique culinary event, “Start Spreadin’ the News,” on December 9 on Las Vegas’ own “Brooklyn Bridge” at New York-New York Hotel & Casino (Pictured: Burger Bar Chefs).
“It was an amazing day where the Las Vegas community came out in support of those impacted by the devastation of Hurricane Sandy,” Mayor Carolyn G. Goodman said. “Thank you to all those that made this possible; we hope that the money raised will bring much-needed help and hope to many who still suffer.”
“The resolve of those involved was inspirational,” said CEO of the American Red Cross Southern Nevada Chapter, Scott Emerson. “Concept to execution took only three weeks and is a testimony to what can happen when compassion drives collaboration. We are very grateful for the dedicated efforts of the chefs, restaurants, entertainers, partners, and especially the staff of Southern Wine & Spirits of Nevada and New York-New York.”
Once the goal of raising $50,000 was met, Larry Ruvo took the stage and said to Mayor Goodman, that if she was willing to call Mayor Michael Bloomberg in New York City to share the news, SWS of NV would match their original goal, bringing the total donation to $100,000. Mayor Goodman readily agreed, to the elation of the crowd.
The event began with pomp and circumstance: a bagpipe procession of Las Vegas and Henderson firefighters and Red Cross service-people, many who had been deployed to the Sandy relief efforts. Following close behind, the first of hundreds of guests poured onto the bridge for a celebration with a purpose. For a $100 donation, patrons tasted cuisine from restaurants and chefs with ties to NYC and Las Vegas, as well as specialty cocktails, wine and craft brews from SWS of NV.
Celebrity chefs Francois Payard of Payard Pâtisserie & Bistro at Caesars Palace and Scott Conant of Scarpetta and D.O.C.G Enoteca at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas – both close to the cause, as their NYC restaurants and staff were impacted by Sandy – manned their stations for the duration of the event, serving guests in support of the fundraiser.
“It is an amazing situation to see the outpouring of love and concern and compassion from everyone,” said Conant. “To have fun with it – while also raising money for such a great cause – is really touching.”
Payard said, “It is great Las Vegas is doing something to help. This is a great event because if you give a donation, you know it is going to the right people [Red Cross].”
The full roster of participating restaurants included:
- Bellagio: Todd English’s Olives
- Caesars Palace: Payard Patisserie & Bistro, Rao’s
- The Cosmopolitan: Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Grill, Scarpetta, D.O.C.G. Enoteca
- Crystals at CityCenter: Todd English P.U.B.
- The Forum Shops at Caesars: The Palm Las Vegas
- Mandalay Bay: Aureole
- MGM Grand: Tom Colicchio’s Craftsteak, Stage Deli
- The Mirage: Carnegie Deli, BLT Burger
- New York-New York: Broadway Burger, Nathan’s Famous Hotdogs, Bonanno’s New York Pizza
- Paris Las Vegas: Gordon Ramsay Steak
- The Venetian & Palazzo: B&B Ristorante, Carnevino, Otto, Bouchon Bakery
- Smith & Wollensky
Bar stations provided by SWS of NV featured craft beers, an array of wines and five specialty cocktails from mixologists at the United States Bartenders Guild with assistance from Back Bar USA. Paying homage to New York City, the featured libations were named “Yankee Doodle,” “Forgetaboutit!” “Eastside/Westside,” “The Neighborhood,” and “’5’ Boroughs.”
Since “Start Spreadin’ the News” was announced, SWS of NV Marketing Manager Michael Severino and his team reported an outpouring of support from the community. This included entertainer Mark Giovi; who rallied dozens of talented performers, including a collection of especially convincing celebrity tribute artists, impressive break dancing crews, heartfelt vocalists, soulful instrumentalists, and many more.
Among the sights to see was a giant “LV <3 NY” poker chip that attendees signed sending well-wishes to their family and friends out east. Guests also took home a commemorative chip, adorned with patriotic artwork by Romero Britto, which reads “When the ‘chips’ were down, Las Vegas stepped up to help those who were dealt a bad hand by Hurricane Sandy, 12-9-12.”
The American Red Cross continues to offer emergency care to the residents of New York and New Jersey over a month after the storm swept through the area. To date, the Red Cross has provided more than 8 million meals and snacks, 6 million relief items and more than 94,000 health services and emotional support contacts for people who have been living in very tough conditions.
If you’d like to help the ongoing disaster relief effort in the east, or if you’d like to support the local chapter’s response to a local fire or disaster every 23 hours, you can visit www.redcross.org, call 1-800-RED-CROSS, or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Contributions may also be sent to someone’s local Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013.