20080913-valenti.jpgKudos to Foodie Obsessed for calling our attention to New York chef-restaurateur Tom Valenti's (Ouest and the forthcoming West Branch) appearance on the Today Show this past Thursday. Valenti made some of the contemporary-classic comfort-food dishes he does so well, but he wasn't on the show to promote his restaurants or a cookbook.

Valenti came on to encourage viewers to donate money to a cause he deeply believes in, the Windows of Hope Family Relief Fund, "formed to provide aid, future scholarships, and funds to the families of the victims of the World Trade Center tragedy who worked in the food, beverage, and hospitality professions throughout the entire complex and who were lost on September 11."

Tom is not only a great chef (he is actually one of my favorite cooks anywhere), but he is also a total mensch, a stand-up guy in every respect. He and I have donated dinners to my favorite charity (he does the cooking, I do the storytelling), the Association to Benefit Children, and he always does so with grace and good cheer. In fact, he is once again contributing a dish to the ABC Thanksgiving chef's buffet benefit dinner November 3 in New York City (tickets are not on sale yet).

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