On Wednesday, May 16, some of New York City’s brightest athletic talents and celebrity chefs displayed their star power and culinary skills at the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids’ annual All-Star Tasting event — a fundraiser which supports the Partnership in its mission to aid and provide resources to families whose children are battling substance use. With a backdrop of sweeping views of Brooklyn and the East River, the festivities kicked off another consecutive year at famed Chef and Restauranteur Tom Colicchio‘s swanky East Side hotspot, Riverpark, in New York City.
In its sixth year, the All-Star Tasting did not disappoint as it delivered a fun-filled night for sports fans and foodies alike, who mixed and mingled with some of their favorite professional athletes, sampled delicious dishes from acclaimed chefs and restaurants, and had the opportunity to bid on unique experiences during the night’s silent auction.
Prior to the main tasting event, guests who purchased VIP tickets were treated to an intimate pre-event reception with the night’s guests of honor and indulged in sweet and savory dishes from VIP Chef, Nick Di Bona of Bona Bona Ice Cream and Madison Kitchen in Larchmont.
Get a full play-by-play of the magical night below:
New York Giants newcomer Jonathan Stewart (L), Partnership CEO and President Fred Muench (C), and five-time NBA champion RonHarper (R) were all smiles at the All-Star Tasting’s VIP reception prior to the main event.
VIP Chef, Nick Di Bona, whipped up a delicious batch of gnocci for VIP guests at the pre-tasting reception. (Don’t worry chef, your recipe is safe with us.)
Holy cannoli! VIP guests were treated to these delicious bites of heaven at the reception.
These two may have infamously clashed on-court throughout the 90s on their respective teams in the NBA‘s Eastern Conference, but New York Knicks legend John Starks (L) and five-time NBA champion (Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers) Ron Harper (R) were all smiles while supporting the Partnership.
Former Partnership President and CEO Marcia Lee Taylor (C) and her guests sported the right accessories for the occasion: mega bright smiles.
The Partnership’s important groundwork supporting families through substance use resonated personally with Chef Nick Di Bona — who lost his brother Brandon to drug use. Di Bona candidly touched on why supporting the Partnership is a priority to him during the intimate reception.
It was an Orange and Blue affair as New York Knicks 2K Gamers Eric Ward (Far Left) and Nate Kahl (Far Right) posed with their 2K coach, Kyle Rudy (2nd Right), and former Knicks legend John Starks.
New York Red Bulls star Aurélien Collin and Leonella Brancho were #CoupleGoals as the pair lit up the red carpet with their smiles.
Jonathan Stewart and Natalie Hills were another couple who not disappoint on the red carpet.
While not an official member of the Harper family, John Starks joined Ron Harper and his children for a picture-perfect moment at the All-Star Tasting.
Whether at his restaurants or at the All-Star Tasting, food supplied by Dale Talde always draws a crowd.
Ron Harper provided the ultimate assist to Chef Nick Di Bona by fire-searing the ice cream toppings for guests.
Guests were pleased with Ron Harper’s skills, including incoming Rutgers Scarlet Knights Mens Basketball player, Jordan Harper, who happens to be his son. Jordan savored every sweet spoonful of that ice cream.
Serving as the Culinary Spotlight of the evening, Legends at Yankee Stadium hit a home run with their delicious sliders.
Stephanie from By the Way Bakery was all smiles as she beautifully decorated her cake, which served as the model for the ultimate “Cake Batter Up” challenge — a friendly cake decorating challenge John Starks, Eric Ward, Aurélien Collin, Jonathan Stewart, and Sean Davis faced off in.
Get a full look of the challenge below:
Despite striking out during the initial round of the of the “Cake Batter Up” challenge, John Starks proved to be the ultimate good sport by congratulating New York Red Bulls teammates Aurélien Collin and Sean Davis, who advanced to the final round.
Aurélien Collin (L) and Sean Davis (R) were pleased to show off their masterpieces after facing off in the challenge, but in the end, it was Davis who prevailed to become the winner.
Before the evening wrapped, several special guests shared their reasons why the Partnership’s work is important:
If you’d like to help the Partnership or are need of help for a member of your family, visit their website, drugfree.org, or call their helpline: 1.855.DRUGFREE.