The Culinary Trust

Today’s Special — One Night Only

February 8, 2012
in News and Events

But two seatings!  On April 1, Join Daily Show correspondent Aasif Mandvi and cookbook author and actress Madhur Jaffrey for a pop-up restaurant featuring food inspired by the film in which they star — Today’s Special.  Proceeds benefit The Culinary Trust

As Chair of The Culinary Trust (TCT) and an active participant in several well known NYC-based non-profits, I have planned and attended too many culinary fundraisers with internationally renowned chefs. Planning meetings toss around names and ideas for multi-course dinners and taste-arounds. I have found myself jaded and cynical.

But TCT can’t rehash the same multi-course dinner or taste-around, even if it features great chefs! We need an event that will bring out culinary professionals, even those weary of the usual fundraising recipe. We need an event that connects to TCT’s mission and programs. We need an event that relates to New York City, this year’s IACP Annual Conference host city.

I started thinking about what I love about New York City, the only hometown I have known. Most of all, it is the diversity of the people, and the culture you can taste as you walk from Astoria to Jackson Heights to Flushing. TCT is dedicated to preserving culinary heritage, and our newest program, Stories About Food, reaches across generations to share personal food memories and experiences. But how do you capture all of this in one evening, in a way that will excite IACP members to buy a ticket to a fundraiser?

IACP members who attended the 2010 Annual Conference in Portland may remember that we were treated to a preview of the award-winning film Today’s Special. Starring and co-written by Aasif Mandvi of The Daily Show, it tells the story of Samir, a sous chef who dreams of becoming the head chef at an upscale Manhattan restaurant. When he is passed over for a promotion, he impulsively quits with the intention of going to Paris to  apprentice under a master French chef. Dreams must be put aside though after his father Hakim has a heart attack and Samir is forced to take over Tandoori Palace, the nearly bankrupt family restaurant in Jackson Heights.

Samir’s relationship with his parents and his heritage is immediately put to the test. He has been estranged from his father since the death of his older brother, and his mother Farrida, played by legendary cookbook writer and actress Madhur Jaffrey, is consumed with finding a wife for her remaining son. While Samir is being forced to forsake his dreams, he is desperately trying to master Indian cooking to salvage the family business.

Luckily, he crosses paths with Akbar, a taxi driver, passionate chef, and worldly raconteur (portrayed by Naseeruddin Shah, star of Monsoon Wedding). Akbar inspires Samir and teaches him to trust his senses more than recipes; to stop measuring his life and to start truly living it. With Akbar’s guidance, Samir has a chance to rediscover his heritage and his passion for life through the enchanting art of cooking Indian food.

If you missed the screening in Portland and didn’t catch the movie in theaters, it’s not too late. Today’s Special was just released on demand and on DVD. Or you can watch the trailer here.

And if you want to directly experience the spirit of Jackson Heights, food inspired by Madhur Jaffrey, and humor provided by Aasif Mandvi, I have an event that even the most jaded culinary professional can’t refuse! For one night only, on April 1, L’Ecole in New York City will be transformed into Tandoori Palace with Samir (Aasif Mandvi) and his mother (Madhur Jaffrey) in attendance, along with producer Nimitt Mankad.

Join The Culinary Trust as we connect food and community across generations and share a taste of New York City.

Event Details

Sunday, April 1, 2012
Early seating: 5:30 - 8:00 pm; late seating: 9:00 - 11:30 pm
L’Ecole, 462 Broadway at Grand, New York

Tickets are $150 USD and available on the IACP conference registration page. Proceeds benefit TCT’s many philanthropic programs, including scholarships and grants for students and professionals, cookbook preservation and restoration, continuing education, and grants for hunger alleviation. For more information about IACP, visit