3 local organizations holding food festivals as fundraising events

At a previous Harvest in the Square, guests sit outside the tent. (Photo by Liz Ligon/courtesy of Union Square Partnership)

At a previous Harvest in the Square, guests sit outside the tent. (Photo by Liz Ligon/courtesy of Union Square Partnership)

By Sabina Mollot

Supporting neighborhood organizations is about to get very tasty.

This is because three local organizations are holding food tasting events this month bypassing more traditional kinds of fundraising events. The hosts are, respectively, the Union Square Partnership, hosting the 21st annual Harvest in the Square festival on September 22, Gramercy Neighborhood Associates, holding the fourth annual Taste of Gramercy Neighborhood on September 24, and Solar One, holding an Oktoberfest event on September 27.

Details for each event are as follows:

Harvest in the Square benefits its host’s efforts to maintain and beautify Union Square Park as well as fund summer programming. Over 50 local restaurants will participate at this event, held under a giant tent at the park’s North Plaza.

A handful of those include Croque Monsieur, Gramercy Tavern, Ngam, Rosa Mexicano, Strip House, Flats Fix, Black Barn, The Pavilion, The Poke Spot, Union Fare and Hill Country Chicken. There will also be tastings from a dozen regional wineries.

“What’s different about this year is there’s so much new news in the Union Square culinary community,” Jennifer Falk, executive director of the Union Square Partnership, “To say Union Square is at an inflexion point is an understatement.”

Some of the recent activity includes the reopening on Tuesday of the Blue Water Grill after a $1 million renovation, the announcement by Danny Meyer than that the Union Square Café, once reopened in a new space, will also have a coffee shop/bakery next door called Daily Provisions and recent opening of the “cavernous” Union Fare, which features a grab-and-go section as well as a full service restaurant and multiple bars.

Falk added that the event, which over the past 20 years, has raised $5,350,000, is “on track to have our best fundraising year ever.” Last year, the event raised $350,000.

General admission tickets are $125 ($150 the day of the event) and $400 for VIP admission which allows guests to enter at 6 p.m. on Thursday, September 22, an hour earlier than general admission time. For tickets, visit harvestinthesquare.nyc.

Staff of Florian, a participating restaurant, at last year’s Taste of Gramercy Neighborhood event, serving meatballs (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Staff of Florian, a participating restaurant, at last year’s Taste of Gramercy Neighborhood event, serving meatballs (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Taste of Gramercy Neighborhood will be held on Saturday, September 24 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Irving Place between 17th and 18th Streets under an open sky. Funds benefit two schools in Gramercy, PS 40 and School of the Future and any unserved food will go to the Bowery Mission.

At this year’s event, 22 restaurants will be offering tastings from their signature dishes. New venues include Midwinter Kitchen, Sarabeth’s, The Smith, Anisette, Obica and Casa Neta. Returning favorites include Paul & Jimmy’s, Ponty Bistro, The Stand, Florian and La Follia.

“The restaurants are really excited about participating,” said Alan Krevis, the president of GNA, “and it shows because three quarters of the restaurants from last year are back. It’s grown tremendously.”

Six tastings are $40 ($50 the day of the event). A tasting from each participant is $70 ($80 the day of the event). Tickets are available at tasteofgramercy.org. Cibar has created a signature Taste of Gramercy cocktail which will be available at $5 for the duration of the event. However, no alcohol will be sold at the event itself. There will also be face painting for kids. This event is rain or shine.

A guest at a previous Oktoberfest event  (Photo courtesy of Zum Schneider)

A guest at a previous Oktoberfest event (Photo courtesy of Zum Schneider)

On September 27, Solar One environmental center is asking New Yorkers to “raise a stein” for solar initiatives at “Munich on the East River,” a Bavarian-style bash under a tent at Stuyvesant Cove Park from 6:30-10 p.m. This is the third time this event has taken place, hosted by Zum Schneider. According to information on the company’s website, dinner will include roast chicken and pork shank, along with other food, including vegetarian options and there’ll be Oktoberfest beers on tap.

Dina Elkan, of Solar one, said, “It was (Zum Scheider) owner Sylvester Schneider’s dream to hold an Oktoberfest (here). Everything is the same as if you were to buy tickets to Munich and go to the tents there. Our tent is a little smaller, but the food is identical.”

There will also be live music and stands outside selling gingerbread hearts and giant brezn (pretzels) along with a strongman competition and a carousel. Tickets start at $100 and are available at solar1.org or nyc.zumschneider.com.

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