On September 12, over 20 of the world’s great chefs paid tribute to one of their icons, the late Roger Vergé, at a special dinner at The Lighthouse at Chelsea Piers. Organizer and veteran event producer, Herb Karlitz and Chef Daniel Boulud succeeded in raising $100,000 to fund a new Roger Vergé Scholarship at The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. Special guests who turned out to honor the chef included Michael Douglas and Mike Myers, as well as Sharon Stone, who recorded a heartfelt tribute to Vergé (who was a longtime friend and fervent supporter of AMFAR).
“The evening was a true testament to the love and respect people had for Roger Vergé, and his restaurant, Le Moulin de Mougins. His contributions in the culinary world and the amazing legacy he left behind as the founder of ‘la cuisine du soleil’ will forever be remembered by future generations,” Karlitz says.
Vergé protégé Chef Boulud was “Chef Chair” for the evening and coordinated the guest chefs who all either worked in Vergé’s kitchen or had a special relationship with him. Besides Boulud, participating chefs included: Philippe Bertineau, David Bouley, Terrance Brennan, Georgette Farkas, Dean Fearing, Remy Funfrock, Wilfrid Hocquet, Emeril Lagasse, Mauro Maccione, Francis Mallmann, George Mendes, Richard Reddington, Mark Tarbell, and Michael White. “We brought together a stellar lineup of chefs, who all jumped at the chance to celebrate a man who had such a positive influence on all of us,” Chef Boulud says. “He was the ultimate professional—so classy, jovial and soulful in the kitchen, with elegance and charm. It was such a beautiful evening to gather and reminisce and tell stories about a man who was so loved and respected.”
The late chef’s wife Denise Vergé flew in especially for the event and was joined by her daughter Cordelia whose speech gave thanks to all the chefs and over 250 guests who paid $1,000 a plate for the evening. The Mayor of Mougins, who was a great friend of Roger Vergé, also flew into New York for the occasion and was joined by the French Consul General Anne Claire Legendre.
“Mr. Vergé’s restaurant in the south of France was a mecca for artists, celebrities, socialites, presidents and heads of state for more than three decades,” says Entertainment Impresario Shep Gordon, who organized many Vergé-hosted dinners (including one for The Dalai Lama) and accompanied Michael Douglas and Mike Myers to the event. “Celebrities from Elizabeth Taylor to Sharon Stone, Michael Douglas and Jack Nicolson—scores of them were regulars. A reservation at the restaurant during the Cannes Film Festival was gold.”
“A pioneer of introducing Mediterranean ingredients and references into haute cuisine, Roger Vergé was one of the greatest chefs in history,” adds Dr. Tim Ryan, president of The Culinary Institute of America. “He was an elegant, charming, and fun-loving man. I remember fondly the times I spent with him at the legendary Moulin de Mougins and here at the CIA. Chef Vergé inspired generations of culinarians in his lifetime, and the college is honored to honor his legacy by creating a scholarship fund in his name.”