Jacob’s Pickles Digs NY-Planting the Seed-Our Gala Dinner

Last year, Jacob Hadjigeorgis founded Jacob’s Pickles Digs NY, a non-profit organization   designed to help support, encourage and maintain learning gardens in NYC.

Jacob’s Pickles is located next door to a garden on the Upper West Side operated and     managed by The Urban Assembly School for Green Careers (UAGC), a Career and  Technical Education (CTE) high school whose mission is to prepare students to access the 21st century green economy. “When I first saw the space for Jacob’s Pickles on Amsterdam between 84th and 85th Streets, I was immediately drawn to the garden next door. When I discovered all the good the UAGC does for the kids at this school, it was a no-brainer – I knew I had to get involved,” says Jacob.

This summer we hosted a fund raiser led by The Insurgo Project, a powerful NYC group led by Chef Harold Villarosa and Chief Strategy Officer Joaquin Elizondo, which works to secure food access for high-need communities. The event successfully brought together foodies, farmers and philanthropists alike to tour our newly refurbished garden. A ribbon cutting     ceremony took place paying special tribute to The Dwight School (where Jacob attended) to thank them for their generous donation of the their greenhouse to our garden. Members from Jacob’s Digs, students and faculty from the UAGC spoke eloquently about what the garden has done for them -learning to grow and growing from learning.

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The menu was developed in collaboration with Jacob, his sous chef Glenroy Brown, and Chef Harold. The cocktail hour started with freshly pressed juices-  carrot, lemon, apple and of course, pickle juice–paired with savory hors d’oeuvres like snap peas and fresh ricotta, mint vinaigrette and honey, duck rillettes with foie gras and cured local fish with pea puree and creme fraiche. The dinner that followed featured inventive foods like roasted bone marrow, local oysters, toasted panko, pickled ramps and braised lamb shank. For dessert, of course there was Jacob’s Pickles signature biscuit bread pudding. Proceeds for the event contributed $5,000 for the 2015-2016 programming budget for 9th-12th graders at the UAGC interested in pursuing green careers.
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 About Chef Harold
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Chef Harold Villarosa was born in the Philippines and was raised in the South Bronx. From humble beginnings working at McDonalds and Church’s Chicken, “my culinary journey started treacherously” said Harold. Continuously in pursuit of exhilaration, he chased every lead, and found himself with an international invitation from Rene Redzepi to work at the #1 rated restaurant in the world, NOMA in Copenhagen. Early in his career he gleaned skills in kitchen efficiency from places like Fedora in the West Village and restaurant operations from opening James Beard’s recipient for best restaurant, Batard. Today, Harold  shares his time equally with education. I asked him how he got the courage to start his new venture: “I wanted to reach for my dreams- I knew the community wasn’t getting what it needed. I wanted to show people how to make their own money through food”.

About Glenroy Brown

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Glenroy Brown is currently the executive sous chef at Jacob’s Pickles.

 Prior to Jacob’s, Glenroy held positions in NYC at The Strand Hotel, Tommy Bahama and Blue Smoke. He is turned on by creativity, and loves using the fresh foods available to him. When I asked him what he’d use these zucchini blossoms for, he said, “definitely a ricotta and basil stuffing…last week I was inspired by the cucumbers from the garden to make an Indian dipping sauce called “raita”. He enjoys going back to his Jamaican upbringing, playing with traditional island flavors like jerk spices, curry, cumin and coconut milk.

 About Jacob Hadjigeorgis

Jacob Hadjigeorgis is a visionary restaurateur who has brought a new American craft experience to the New York dining scene.  He loves to travel- when he was in the South; he felt a real connection with the warmth of the people there and realized that focusing on comfort food was a way to share that happiness. From the beginning he had a mission to create a restaurant with a purpose that goes beyond business-he truly wants to improve the lives of people in the community.

For more on the mission and the event, enjoy our video story here:

Thanks for your support-hope to see you at the next event!