“This is the first time I have spoken about my father in public since his death”.
So begins the speech by Marisa May, daughter of the late chef Tony May, at the Wine & Spirits Gala organized by A Chance in Life.
“My father was my hero and mentor. He loved cooking, cigars, golf, travel. His motto was ‘life is always good,’ and he never wanted mediocrity-it was not an option for him.”
Giving her the award “for the legacy of setting the standard for luxury Italian fine dining in the United States” was Gabriele Del Monaco, director of A Chance In Life, who recalled Chef Tony’s outstanding value to the Italian and American community.
“He believed immensely in the value of education,” his daughter recalled. He created culinary scholarships and worked until his last day to make sure that all young people could learn about, delve into, and study true Italian cuisine. As in 1991, when he founded the Italian Culinary Institute (ICIF) in Italy together with colleagues from Piedmont.
For more than fifty years, he continued to elevate the image of Italian cuisine in America, contributing to the success of many Italian chefs in the United States, such as Marc Bianchini, Paul Bartolotta, Andrew Carmellini, Marc Vetri and Scott Conant.
“There was nothing he loved more than sharing a table with friends and family.”, his daughter said. Tables that were famous for always being large and bountiful. “He was born in southern Italy, in a place and a time when poverty was being felt.” He never forgot the hunger he was forced to suffer, and almost as a feeling of revenge, he lived the whole stretch of his life trying to compensate for that hunger and feed people.
A goal shared with A Chance in Life, which works in 11 nations around the world, collaborating with 37 partners having as its driving force the 17 goals of the U.N. sustainability agenda.
In Ethiopia, for example, they are pursuing goal number 5: gender equality. In a country with a growing population, girls struggle to have access to education, the real key to being free and independent, and Chance in Life, thanks to its volunteers, enables many young people to be able to study.
In Italy the third goal, “Good Health and Well-being,” is pursued by lending a hand to the many Ukrainian migrants who arrived after the invasion of Russia. According to Interior Ministry estimates, 150.000 have entered since March: a huge number, impossible to manage without the help of foundations such as A Chance in Life.
Finally, in New York, the goal is number 2: no hunger. Hunger is a big problem for the city, which sees so many people in need in its streets, partly because of the sharp rise in the cost of living. Here, “Free Markets” have opened so that people can have a hot meal available and not go hungry.
Just what Tony May would have always wanted. A dream that today, thanks to A Chance in Life that during the night raised $115.000 to suffering kids, seems almost a reality.