Our friends at C-CAP will host their 5th Annual Junior Benefit: A Taste of Fall, a tasting event featuring seasonal cuisine for young philanthropists (21-44 years-old), on Monday, November 11, from 6:30 to 9:00pm at Chef Marcus Samuelsson‘s Ginny’s at Red Rooster.
Guests will enjoy cocktails, an exciting silent auction, live music and of course sweet signature dishes prepared by C-CAP Graduate Chefs such as Thiago Silva (The General), Berenice Cabrera (Dos Caminos), Cesar Gutierrez (Lexington Brass) and Sean Quinn (Chadwick’s).
Alexandra Leavenworth and Nicole Leavenworth will be honored at the event for their long-time support of C-CAP’s work. All proceeds from the event will benefit C-CAP and allow the national non-profit to continue to provide culinary opportunities and scholarships for at-risk high school students.
Each time we’re invited to attend a C-CAP event we like to highlight one of their alums. We caught up with Larry Purvis, a C-CAP graduate in 1993 and currently a bar manager for the Nederlander Organization in their Broadway theatres in New York City.
FP: How did you get your start as a mixologist?
LP: My first start with mixology was while I was in college at Johnson & Wales University. Mixology was required learning, and I did see a need for it. During my first year of graduate school, I landed a fellowship, but found I still needed to make additional income to offset the expenses of continuing my education.
I used to frequent the former Club Confetti complex in North Providence on occasion and decided to apply for a job. One month later, I started my first shift as a mixologist at the club (ironically, the day after my birthday). One of the great things about it was that it was a fast-paced environment, and it was never boring. While I had regular patrons, I got the chance to meet and talk to different people from many walks of life.
After graduation, I returned to New York and was the Sous Chef of Rue des Crepes in Chelsea and then went to work for Riese Restaurants in the concept restaurant environment as management, supervising both back of the house and front of the house operations. My skills as a mixologist benefitted me there by allowing me to assist the bar staff during busy periods. In addition, between positions I catered and planned parties, I would develop cocktails, punches and other drinks for various occasions.
FP: Share with us your experience and involvement with C-CAP.
I started with C-CAP back in the fall of 1991 at the former Manhattan Julia Richman High School, which is now Talent Unlimited High School. It was a great experience for me; I liked to cook at home all the time and was always curious about the more advanced processes of cooking. It’s one thing to ice a cake, but it’s another (from the perspective of a teenager) to use a pastry bag and pipe rosettes, or make flowers and scalloped edges and such.
I learned the difference between the nuances of something as simple as a roasted chicken versus the boldness of a Coq au Vin. I competed in the C-CAP New York Cooking Competition for Scholarships as a junior and in my senior year received a four-year full-tuition scholarship to attend Johnson & Wales University (JWU) in Providence, RI. It was life changing, not only because it provided me with opportunities to further my education, but also because it exposed me to a world of people from other cultures, with unique foods and customs as well.
I loved every minute at JWU. During my junior year, we formed a club for C-CAP students on campus. It was a chance to touch base and get to know students in the C-CAP program from other states and cultures as well. My instructors were wonderful, and I have a great deal of respect for them. Some have since passed on, and it makes me sad. However, their influence lives on in me.
FP: We love hearing about the influence of C-CAP on the lives of so many talented professionals!
When you’re not serving up drinks for everyone, what are some of your favorite meals to cook for yourself?
LP: Well, I am a self-proclaimed Meatatarian, LOL! I LOVE BEEF!!!!! That ranges from a nice slow-cooked BBQ Beef Short-rib and yam stew, to a classic Beef Burgundy. I also love anything en croute. I make Salmon en Croute every month, and contrary to my previous statement, I can’t let a week go by without having either asparagus, artichokes or roasted Brussels sprouts. Yet sometimes a nice medium-rare NY Strip with a Merlot sauce and garlic potatoes tickles my fancy as well.
FP: We love some good ribs from time to time!
What are some of your guilty pleasures? We like to call them foodie pleasures, hence the name.
LP: I love to dine out and try new cuisines. Currently, I have a fascination with Indian food and have been making Butter Chicken and Lamb Curry. I have an obsession with Moroccan cuisine as well; I have friends that say they would die without my Tajine pot. Besides that, I can’t live without pralines from Louisiana, and chocolate, chocolate and MORE CHOCOLATE!
When it comes to cocktails, I love rum and vodka. My all-time favorite cocktail besides a rum punch is a White Russian made with half and half instead of whole milk. I know, some will scream about the calories, but enjoyment in moderation.
FP: You’re full of foodie pleasures…the more the merrier!
If you weren’t a mixologist, what would you be doing? What are some of your non-mixologist hobbies or interests?
LP: If I weren’t a mixologist, I would definitely be in the kitchen full-time expanding my knowledge of molecular gastronomy, or I would be a food scientist. Yet I would definitely love to work for a community food pantry in an impoverished area, producing meals for underprivileged families and children and spend more time mentoring C-CAP students. I was never hungry as a child, and I always considered myself fortunate. I’ve seen the impact of what going without food can do to individuals and families. No one should ever go hungry.
When I’m not behind the bar, you can find me in the gym, lifting hard, and on several occasions, participating in various strength competitions and weightlifting meets. Besides that, I still love to sing and have maintained my operatic tenor voice. I’ve also designed and made clothing for years. But if you don’t find me in the gym or at my sewing machine, I’m in the kitchen!
FP: Sounds like you have a good mix of passions! Thank you for your time. We look forward to tasting some of your drinks at C-CAP’s Junior Benefit on Monday. We can’t wait!
If you haven’t purchased your tickets, it is not too late. Visit http://atasteoffall.bpt.me to buy your tickets, $150 per person, payable in advance. We look forward to seeing you there!C-CAP’s Junior Benefit, A Taste of Fall Monday, November 11, 6:30pm-9pm Ginny’s at Red Rooster 310 Lenox Avenue in Harlem