As the COVID-19 shutdown prompts New York hospitality workers to file for unemployment and await federal relief, two of the city’s most acclaimed restaurant groups have decided to help their staffs with charity auctions — garnering bids of over $25,000 for private parties and home cooked dinners.
Erik Ramirez’s fancy Llama San and more casual Llama Inn, as well as Daniel Humm’s Eleven Madison Park parent company Make It Nice group are currently soliciting donations for those indulgences, which also include wine tastings, the sale of artwork, and even autumnal jogs around Central Park.
Many restaurants in need have been launching online fundraising campaigns. The gist is simple: Patrons donate online and staffers theoretically receive cash payments after the drive ends. Charity auctions, by contrast, are a more common tool of the larger philanthropic community, particularly at chic New York charity events.
The new efforts by the Llama crew and Eleven Madison are clearly targeted at the city’s wealthiest gourmands.
“We don’t just want to ask for your money, but rather offer you something in exchange,” Llama San writes on its 32 Auctions page. It has raised over $25,000 so far, and intends to give 100 percent of proceeds to staffers.
Among the items up for sale are a 5’ by 5’ Peruvian blanket ($350), a $750 cocktail class, and a $3,000 ceviche class. The group has already sold a series of works by Peruvian artist Giancarlo Scaglia for $15,000.
Eleven Madison Park has also set up its own employee relief auction via GiveSmart. The restaurant’s website asks patrons to consider supporting its team “by bidding on amazing auction items.” The items currently start at $5,000.
For a point of comparison: Dinner at Eleven Madison normally runs either $175 for the bar menu or $335 for the formal tasting menu. All prices are service-included.
Among the items up for auction are a $5,500 kitchen stage for two (followed by a wine paired dinner), a $7,000 private wine tasting for 10, a reservation for Rao’s (the city’s toughest table, apparently snapped up for $10,000), a $27,500 private party at Eleven Madison for 30 (seven bids on that one so far), a five-course dinner that chef Humm will cook for nine guests at your home (bidding closed on that one at $50,000, but another one is still available for the same price), and an actual run with Humm himself.
Here’s the Eleven Madison team on the offer to jog: “Chef Daniel’s passion (outside of the kitchen) is running — and he’d love to take you out for a weekend afternoon training session this fall, in advance of the NY Marathon. Take a lap on the Central Park loop (about 6.5 miles), do your best at keeping up, and relax for a coffee and tea afterwards.”
There you have it. Go run with a chef for $5,000. No bids on that one just yet.
Those who don’t have a few thousand to give can donate to Eleven Madison directly, with suggested donations starting at $10.