Young and Hungry

Chow Down for Haitian Earthquake Relief

haiti aidIt hasn't even been a week since the 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit Haiti, but I bet you've already been hit up 500 times for a donation to help the victims. You can barely turn to a Web site, a restaurant, a party, or a social network without finding some solicitation asking for more cash for Haiti.

It's a worthy cause, yes, but who can you trust? The FBI has already warned us about scams and how to protect ourselves from them. Even Snopes has chimed in on the issue.

If you haven't already donated directly to relief agencies, which is the best method, allow me to suggest two other possibilities. Both of them will cost you nothing more than the usual price of a meal.

Restaurateur Ashok Bajaj first told his employees that he'd match every dollar they donated, then he took it one step further: He promised that his company, Knightsbridge Inc., will donate $1 for each signature dish sold at his seven restaurants, from Ardeo/Bardeo to Bibiana.

What makes this better than the average fundraiser is its length of time: Bajaj will donate a dollar for each plate sold from Tuesday, Jan. 19, to Friday, Feb. 19. It's easy to tabulate, he says; the managers just have to program the computers at each restaurant to tally the number of dishes ordered. Which plates are included? Take a look:

  • the palak chaat and black cod at Rasika
  • the king crab salad and grilled branzino at 701
  • the roasted baby beets and butter poached lobster at the Oval Room
  • polpettine and spaghetti Nero with jumbo lump crab at Bibiana
  • and other dishes at the Bombay Club and Ardeo/Bardeo.

"I picked the most popular dishes from each restaurant," Bajaj told Y&H this afternoon. By the time the fundraiser is finished, Bajaj hopes to send a check between $10,000-$20,000 to a relief charity. He knows the money won't solve any problems in Haiti but says, "They could use every bit of help."

Bajaj still hasn't selected a relief organization yet, but he says it will likely be a "big charity" like Red Cross, "which has accountability."

Mauricio Fraga-Rosenfeld, on the other hand, has already selected a charity, Doctors Without Borders, the international medical organization that has agreed to let the restaurateur use its logo in his efforts.

The Ecuadorian owner behind Latin Concepts and Tavern Concepts will donate 10 percent of food and beverages sold between 7 and 8 p.m. today through Friday at his seven restaurants and lounges. Fraga-Rosenfeld picked the time so that it wouldn't fall during happy hour, when prices are lower, or during late hours, when sales drop off.

The following restaurants and lounges will be participating:

"This is the time for all of us to make a difference!" Fraga-Rosenfeld wrote in an e-mail statement to Y&H. Doctors Without Borders "are working hard to provide medical aid to the Haitian community, and need all of the help they can get."

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