How often do you hear about Jon Bon Jovi playing a pared down set for an audience that's only a fraction of the size of a stadium crowd?
Not that often, but the famed rocker made the time in honor of the Food Bank for New York City, which held its annual Can Do Awards dinner Tuesday night at Cipriani Wall Street. JBJ, who was honored with an award from the charity in 2009, took to the stage with a few select musicians -- no, Richie Sambora was not one of them -- and played sweet, chilled-out versions of "Who Says You Can't Go Home," "Livin' on a Prayer," and "Wanted Dead or Alive."
Joining him for the big night emceed by Tony Shalhoub were Chelsea Clinton, R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe, "Law & Order: SVU" star Mariska Hargitay, former Victoria's Secret Angel Selita Ebanks, and a slew of celebrity chefs including Rachael Ray, Tom Colicchio, and Mario Batali.
Clinton presented her friends Batali and his wife, Susan Cahn, with one of the evening's big awards, honoring their service at the Food Bank since 2003. Batali and his whole family, including his two sons, have done a week-long hunger challenge -- only eating $1.48 worth of food every day -- much like Ben Affleck is doing this week.
"I think Einstein once said, 'Only those who attempt the absurd can achieve the impossible.' Let's keep on trying together," Batali said in his acceptance speech. "Susi and I want to thank you for this honor but it's really about what we're going to do after we leave tonight, so let's go forth and help someone you may never meet."
Batali's good friend Gwyneth Paltrow was not in attendance, but was listed among the benefit committee members and partners.
The fundraiser also featured a live auction, with the pièce de résistance being a dinner party for 16 in the winner's home with two courses each cooked by Batali, Colicchio, and David Chang. That raised an impressive $150,000 alone.
"We make our living in food and I think that food is the natural place for us to start when we're looking at what our community service is going to be," Ray explained to omg! regarding why such food stars flock to the event. "We make our living in New York -- we have to make sure our neighbors and friends are fed. We come here because we're thrilled to lend our support and anything we can do for them."
In the end, the event raised nearly $2 million over the course of the evening.
The Food Bank of New York City has served nearly 1 billion pounds of food in its 30-year existence. For more information, or do donate to the cause, visit FoodBankNYC.org.
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