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March 8, 2013
Food (and sweets) for Thought

by David Shapiro

At the Classic Car Club in SoHo on Thursday evening, the Doe Fund held its second annual fundraiser, called "Sweet," for its focus on food. The group is dedicated to getting homeless and formerly incarcerated men off the streets through intensive job training and job placement programs.

Manhattan restaurants like Tao, Lavo, BLT Prime, and Magnolia Bakery brought treats, mostly desserts, for guests to sample. Behind the scenes, near dozens of classic cars that had been moved off the floor of the showroom for the event, culinary trainees in the Doe Fund's program cooked delicious small dishes as well.

Marcel Chambers, who entered the program after dealing with homelessness and substance abuse and now runs the kitchen at the fund's Philadelphia branch, worked in the kitchen at the fundraiser. "I don't allow yelling, confrontation, or arguments in my kitchen, but I don't walk around waving my finger like I'm the boss either," he said. "I remember when I was the person cleaning the toilet or sweeping the floor."

Food Network star Madison Cowan was there. "It's very chic to be homeless in Paris," he said. "I was homeless for several years in my early 20s: three years in Paris and then about seven months in New York."

Supermodel Jessica White spent the evening being trailed by a camera crew. "They're filming a little documentary," she said coquettishly, referring to a reality TV show pilot.

In the VIP area, Ms. White was joined by several Real Housewives of New York and Atlanta, who didn't seem as animated when the camera crew took a break. "I feel like I've spent the last 10 years living in other peoples' realities," joked a member of the crew.

Designer Steve Madden was being followed by a smaller camera crew that he had hired to make a documentary about his life. His wife Wendy Madden, who was holding court across the room, sits on the board of the Doe Fund.

"My wife is pregnant and the birth is scheduled for tomorrow, so we're very excited," he said.

Doe Fund founder George McDonald, who is running for mayor, rubbed elbows with Carter Strickland, commissioner of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection. The two men discussed the recent Republican mayoral primary debate, and Mr. McDonald remarked, "Mayor Bloomberg is the greatest mayor in the history of New York City." The conversation also touched on Mr. McDonald's recent sale of his biodiesel business. "The grease business has become a very cutthroat business," he said. Mr. Strickland nodded.

"I think what the Doe Fund does is amazing and important," said Grant Show, former star of the television show, "Melrose Place," sipping on a glass of prickly pear tequila. "They really help people who are trying to get their [act] together. I wish there were people who would have helped me get my [act] together when I was in my early 20s."

His wife, Katherine LaNasa, star of ABC's "Deception," agreed. "I lived in New York when I was 19 and my friend and I made about $10,000 a year each as ballet dancers. We were so broke, and we used to have to ask our friends to borrow like $50. $50! Imagine if you didn't have anyone who could lend you $50 and you were coming out of prison," she said, shaking her head.

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