How do you describe the indescribable? In some respects, the event done by at the NASDAQ MarketSite by Cooking with the Troops and NASDAQ OMX truly was indescribable. After all, how can one describe the feelings that come from bringing together veterans from WWII to present with those currently serving? How can you describe the joy that came from being able to bring in those in uniform in to watch the cooking demos and for a magnificent lunch? How can one say thank you to all who made it possible?
After all, this is a day that started with a surprise, and what a surprise it was. Blue Nile, the leading online retailer of diamonds and fine jewelry, made it possible for wounded warrior Timothy G. Strobel to propose to his love Jennifer. He was a medic who survived a great deal in Iraq, but was severely wounded in the leg. He refused amputation of his leg, and has worked to walk again when told that it wouldn’t happen. He met Jennifer during that time, and he credits her love and support for his recovery. Blue Nile not only provided the ring and other items, but worked with Fox & Friends (you can see video of this from Fox here, tissue alert) to make the surprise happen. Jennifer thought she was being interviewed because he couldn’t be present, then had Brian point out a video that was playing on the NASDAQ tower — in which Timothy held up five signs outlining his love for her. As she was watching that, he came up, got down on bended knee, and proposed. He later admitted in an interview that he was more nervous at that moment than during a firefight… Yes, that is Cooking with the Troops in the background, we were screening and trying hard not to let her know something was up (to say there was OPSEC on this is an understatement).
To top their morning off, NASDAQ and Cooking with the Troops provided the couple a special breakfast. Chef Ellen Adams and Chef Kashia Cave prepared and served plates of chocolate chip pancakes, bacon, and strawberries on behalf of Cooking with the Troops. The couple enjoyed the breakfast in a very special location prepared for them.
And what better way to start their new day than with a
Then the next phase of operations got underway: Cooking Demonstrations.
Over the last few months, four guest chefs had agreed to do culinary demonstrations for the invited guests and troops on the second floor of the NASDAQ MarketSite. This excellent function area allowed people to watch the goings on down in Times Square, and view the cooking demonstrations up close. In fact, some found themselves participating in those demonstrations… Sears joined in by offering and providing equipment for use by the chefs.
First up was Chef James Luque, executive chef at the historic Thayer Hotel near West Point. He prepared a magnificent seafood risotto with lobster, shrimp, and scallops (on their menu at MacArthur’s Restaurant), showing the audience how they too could do this dish at home. The audience of guests, veterans, and troops not only enjoyed the demonstration, but the tasting samples provided afterwards. There is more news to come in regards the Thayer Hotel, so stay tuned to this site.
Next up was the culinary demonstration team of Dan Glickberg and Mitchel London from Fairway Market. They showed how to do an easy and delicious roast butternut squash and cornbread stuffing. It was easy to tell that they were pros at doing demonstrations, and the banter had the audience both laughing and paying close attention. They also let drop that they were doing a demo for television, and while we don’t have that video, you can find recipes and videos from Fairway here.
The third guest chef was Paul Niedermann of BLT Steakhouse — and winner of Season 9 of Hell’s Kitchen. He prepared the BLT signature tuna tartare, with the help of an audience member, Dr. Dozie Onunkwo of B.N. Shape Clothing, who stepped up when Paul called for a volunteer. There is no truth to the rumor that everyone in uniform took an involuntary half-step back when the call for volunteers went out. Dr. O, as he is better known, was coached through the preparation by Chef Niedermann, and the previously prepared tastings didn’t last long.
The final demo was by Cooking with the Troops own Chef Ellen Adams, who did her Harvest Pasta, showing how it can be done healthy and in just nine minutes. It was a two pan dish, a sautee pan and a boiler, with everything coming together in the pasta pot for service.
Then it was time for lunch, with the magnificent people at Fairway Market catering the luncheon. Their catering department provided some amazing charcuterie, cheeses, salads, sandwiches, and desserts. Alas, there are no pictures of most of this, as it all went fast. This photo of the Cooking with the Troops logo cupcakes (which were moist and delicious) was taken earlier in the day. For those not connected with the military, do not get between troops and good food.
Nor was food the only item on the menu for the luncheon. Courtesy of Sears, Josh Gracin performed, singing a very special song of love, loss, and service. There was a small bit of speechifying, but the focus was on the food, the company, and enjoying a very special day.
A very special guest for the day was Phil Perugini, seen here with the USO Liberty Bells, who is a surviving member of E Company of the 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, of the 101st Airborn Division — better known as the “Band of Brothers.” He strongly denies that he is a hero, feeling that those who fought all the way through are the real heroes. On D-Day, his jump went bad, and he ended up holding his position for four days until relieved, while dealing with a broken/shattered femur. His family, who provided this photo, had to talk him into attending and we are so glad they did. When troops learned he was there, all wanted to talk with him.
One person came specifically to see him. Nicolette Maroulis from Warrior Gateway’s Vets2Chefs Program, came despite being in intense pain just to meet Phil. Nicolette spent a lot of time in a wheelchair as a result of her injuries while in service, and pain is the price for being out of the chair. She paid it gladly so she could meet him, and it was amusing to hear each deny they are a hero, but accept that they might be heroes to the other.
The day was capped with a very special closing bell ceremony. The Liberty Bells sang the National Anthem, and then two very special people stepped forward to ring the bell on behalf of Cooking with the Troops.
After the requisite signatures, the party adjourned into Times Square for some photos.
Oh, and so you know, throughout the day on jumbotrons on both sides of Times Square, you might have seen this:
Nor was it just still images, on some of the smaller screens video provided by 3Media Partners was playing.
None of this would have been possible without the partnership with NASDAQ. There is truly an amazing team of people there who feel strongly about doing right by the troops and veterans, and were determined to show that in a tangible fashion. In the process, they’ve opened a number of doors for us and for others.
Nor could it have happened without our sponsors:
Please help us thank them for making this wonderful event and day possible!