Players, Coaches and Fans Sample the Best Restaurants in New York City
Several new dishes were introduced to the usual fare at the 13th annual Taste of the Jets held Wednesday night in New York.
One was the venue — for the first time, the gala was held at the Metropolitan Pavilion, a 30,000-square-foot space covered with polished oak floors and adorned with 19th Century architectural highlights in the Chelsea section of midtown Manhattan.
"It's a lot different," Zach Sudfeld said. "I love the layout. It's very open, and it's not so far from station to station, so it's a pretty cool experience."
Another was the event's host — none other than Bart Scott, the former Jets linebacker, current member of CBS' NFL Today crew, and for the first time ever, a master of ceremonies for the first time.
"Whenever you have an opportunity, I've stressed that you have to be comfortable with being uncomfortable," Scott said during a break in his emceeing duties. "You're never going to have growth if you don't get outside your comfort zone. So right now I'm just working on growth, I'm trying to add another layer to the onion.
"And this also gives me the opportunity to be a part of something great, something that's out here to help the community."
That, of course, has never changed. For the 13th year, the Taste of the Jets, presented by 98.7 FM ESPN and Calandra's Bakery, is fighting hunger in the metropolitan area by inviting the generous fans of the Green & White to "experience the best of food and football under one roof." Net proceeds for the evening benefit the New York Jets Foundation in tackling hunger.
Helping to get the event off and flying, DJ Rob Swift introduced Scott, who introduced Team President Neil Glat and head coach Todd Bowles. Shortly after, an eight-member contingent of the New York Jets Flight Crew brought their special brand of cheer to the crowd.
Another new feature for the night was the introduction of the Jets' 2016 rookie class, all the draft picks and undrafted free agents. The headliner naturally was first-round LB Darron Lee, whose restaurant station brought a long line of fans that was rivaled by only the line for center Nick Mangold, one of the Taste's "old reliables" since his arrival in 2006.
"Yeah, this is my first time with the fans like this. I really didn't know what was gong to happen. It's been great interacting with everyone," Lee said during a break in his autograph/photograph session. "And we're all here supporting a great cause, fighting hunger in New York."
A number of Jets veterans joined Mangold in manning stations at some of New York/New Jersey's top restaurants, all of whom offered "tastes" of one of their special dishes for all who came by. Also on hand were Tommy Bohanon, Nick Folk, Lorenzo Mauldin, Steve McLendon, Bryce Petty and Sudfeld. Oh, yes, and a strong offensive line contingent — Breno Giacomini, Dakota Dozier, Wes Johnson, Brent Qvale and Jesse Davis.
"It's awesome, man," Giacomini said, "getting the community together, the fans, the coaches, the players, to raise money for a great cause. And to have food involved and good music, it's a great event. It's my first time doing it. I've missed it in the past but I won't miss it again."
Sudfeld and Petty had a special role as they strolled the hall interviewing players and fans alike before a newyorkjets.com camera crew.
"This kid is hilarious, he's a blast," Sudfeld, the tight end who's returning to action from last year's season-ending knee injury, said of Petty, the second-year QB. "He's a lot of fun to hang out with."
"Zach's awesome," Petty replied. 'It's not hard to hit it off with him. He's a real likeable guy. He knows where he's been, he knows where he wants to be. And he brings the best out in you as well."
Also in the crowd were all the members of Todd Bowles' coaching staff along with several Jets Legends, including Greg Buttle, Erik Coleman and Tony Richardson.
All sampled the fares from restaurants such as Calandra's, Dizzy's, Emma's Ale House, Galli, ICE, Lavo, Lugo, Lure Fishbar, Michael's, Nobu Fifty Seven, Trademark, Tao, Tavern on Jane, The Arlington Club and The Boat House.
The event concluded with a live auction as Scott added yet another onion layer, that of auctioneer.