When Marc Forgione was 12 he helped his father cook at a Citymeals-on-Wheels event.
This year he emerged from the shadow of his dad, New American cuisine pioneer Larry Forgione, winning the Food Network’s third “The Next Iron Chef” competition.
“Charity is an extension of what we do,” said a weary Forgione, 32, as he took a break from taping 7 “Iron Chef” episodes in 11 days this month. “I don’t even have to think twice about it.”
The chef of Restaurant Marc Forgione in Manhattan’s TriBeCa district is bringing his signature Mohawk haircut to help Feeding America, a Chicago-based nonprofit with a network of 200 food banks in the U.S. Forgione will host his first fundraising dinner for the organization in November in Manhattan with the help of other chefs.
Tonight, he will serve spiced lobster and Israeli couscous to more than 850 people at the “Chefs & Champagne” tasting event at Wolffer Estate Vineyard in Sagaponack, Long Island. The party, which seeks to raise more than $250,000 for the James Beard Foundation and its scholarship program, will honor Emeril Lagasse.
“Chefs & Champagne” is among the most popular food events of the Hamptons summer gala season. More than 40 chefs donate their food and time, including Daniel Boulud, Missy Robbins of A Voce, Esca’s David Pasternack, Red Rooster Harlem’s Marcus Samuelsson, Kerry Heffernan of South Gate, Aldea’s George Mendes -- all from New York -- and Richard Grenamyer of the Blue Fish Restaurant and Oyster Bar in Jacksonville, Florida.
Champagne maker Nicolas Feuillatte will provide the bubbly and the Wolffer vineyard will donate still wine.
Forgione began cooking in his father’s famed restaurant, An American Place, at age 16. He also had dreams of being in a rock and roll band.
“That didn’t work out because I’m not musically gifted in any way, shape or form,” he said. “I can play the bongos, and that’s about it.”
After graduating from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, he worked in several New York kitchens and helped Laurent Tourondel expand his restaurant empire in the U.S. He then launched his own restaurant (formerly known as Forge) in 2008. It earned its first Michelin star in 2010 and is a repeater on this year’s list, making him the youngest U.S. chef to receive the honor in consecutive years.
The Michelin honors and “Iron Chef” appearances have helped double his restaurant’s business and attract more requests to do charity events, he said.
“I had some guests from the taping today who flew from British Columbia to watch the show and come to the restaurant,” he said. “The dining room is full with people from Rhode Island to San Diego. It blows my mind.”
(Chefs & Champagne is tonight at Wolffer Estate Vineyard, 139 Sagg Rd. in Sagaponack, New York, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $275 for the public, $200 for James Beard Foundation members. Information: http://www.jamesbeard.org/ index.php?q=chefs_and_champagne)