This past weekend, I had the honor and pleasure of throwing a benefit dinner for my good friend and brother, music producer Scotty Hard, who was seriously injured in a car accident last year. Because Scotty like many artists and musicians does not have health insurance, his friends have set up a trust to pay for his ongoing medical bills and rehabilitation, and one of the novel ways they have been raising money is through the Scotty Hard Suppers (www.scottyhardsuppers.com), of which there have been about 20 worldwide.
I have known the Canadian-born Scotty since about ’95 when we first started collaborating on music. Scotty is a seasoned veteran who has worked in many genres of music, from hip-hop (Wu-Tang Clan, Prince Paul) to jazz (Teo Macero, Sex Mob), to rock (Medeski Martin & Wood, Nacao Zumbi). He also released his first solo album for my label WordSound back in 1999. I have been the recipient of Scotty’s kindness and generosity on many an occasion–from his many backyard barbecues in Brooklyn, to his mixing albums for me, to sleeping on his couch on my numerous sojourns to New York when I moved out of the city. This is the first time I had an opportunity to give back, and it felt immensely satisfying.
It also felt great to share the food of my homeland with Scotty and his friends. I confess that it was a major undertaking to cook 15 dishes–including saffron rice, chicken curry, fish ambul thiyal (sour fish curry), pork badun, dhal, mallung (sauteed greens), ala thel dala (devilled potatoes), beet curry, eggplant curry, cutlets (fish and beef), coconut sambol, tomato cucumber salad, tropical fruit salad with custard, and watalappam (coconut flan)–for the 28 guests present, but I could not have pulled it off without a lot of help for which I am very grateful.
The event was held at Jump, a commercial editing house in Manhattan, where my friend David Bryen was working on a Maybelline ad in between helping set up for the evening’s festivities. I chose this location for its big ‘living room’ and kitchen, and I thank David and his boss Michael for allowing me to use the facilities.
Thanks to my mother, Chandra Fernando, for donating all the groceries and making her mean chicken curry and special custard for dessert, and also for being a living example of peace and compassion. Thanks to my Aunty Manel for making the fish and mallung, and to Chandra Malasekara from the Spice Lanka store in Derwood, MD (scroll down to see a prior post) for making the eggplant curry and the fish cutlets.
Thanks to my on site helpers, Shafali Patel and Susan Now, who served as my right and left hands, helping with the prep, service, and clean-up. Thanks also to Susan, who took the incredible pictures in my cookbook, for documenting the event.
Thanks to Jimmy from Jimmy’s No. 43 (43 E. 7th St. in the East Village) for donating the beer (and Miss Mary Taylor for making the connection with Jimmy). Thanks also to Sarah and Tracy at Black Ankle Vineyards in Frederick, MD for donating the wine.
Thanks to all the guests who put down $75 each to come out and support the event, and also showered me with praises for my cooking. This is the first time I’ve cooked for such a large crowd and I was nervous until I saw all the smiles of pleasure.
Thanks to Scotty’s friend’s Heesok Chang and Chris Mooney for setting up the Scotty Hard Trust and the Scotty Hard Suppers, and for creating a network of Scotty’s friends, who have been indispensible in this time of need. It just goes to show that you can get nowhere in this world without good friends and Scotty is lucky to have so many.
And thank you, Scotty, for being a true friend, and for always displaying an amazing fighting spirit in the midst of so much adversity. You are a living example for us all. Keep up the good humor and the positive attitude.
This dinner was special because it was the first Scotty Hard Supper that the man himself attended, and I was lucky to have had that honor. I hope there are many more dinners, and benefit concerts and fund-raising events to come.