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Mario Batali Leads Culinary Community with “Eat (Red) Drink (Red) Save Lives” with Campaign to Fight AIDS

Mario Batali Leads Culinary Community with “Eat (Red) Drink (Red) Save Lives” with Campaign to Fight AIDS

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Celebrity chef, Mario Batali, launched the EAT (RED) DRINK (RED) & SAVE LIVES initiative of Bono’s (RED) organization with an exclusive event at the Eataly Rooftop Birreria in New York. Co-hosted by master meat purveyor Pat LaFrieda, the event celebrated the world’s top culinary taste makers who have teamed together to help #86AIDS. Guests included actress Julianna Margulies, chef and restaurateur David Burke and Charles Gibb, president of Belvedere Vodka.

The EAT (RED) DRINK (RED) & SAVE LIVES initiative, which will run through June 10th, involves food and drink businesses around the world, from London to Hong Kong, New York to Dubai, each featuring delicious (RED) culinary experiences to raise money for the Global Fund to fight AIDS. At the same time, the initiative is harnessing the growing interest in all things culinary to raise awareness that the war against AIDS is winnable.

Mario Batali told Pursuitist that he became involved with (RED) after receiving a phone call from Bono, the lead singer for U2. Bono launched the non-profit in 2006 with Bobby Shriver to raise money from businesses to buy AIDS drugs for people in Africa unable to afford them.

“Well, Bono called and asked me if I would like to become involved, and of course, I said yes,” said Batali. “It was thrust upon me and I embraced it. I love it. The unassailability of the curability and the imminent potential for us to cure AIDS is something that is remarkable and should make it obvious and simple for people to join this kind of a group. I can help people understand that—and chefs and restaurant people are very generous and so it is every easy for us to get involved.”

“Last year there were thirty million people dead due to AIDS, so this is a big thing,” Batali added. “EAT (RED) DRINK (RED) & SAVE LIVES will be an annual event going forward. All of my restaurants are participating from New York to Hong Kong.”

Many of renowned chef David Burke’s restaurants are also participating, including David Burke at Bloomingdales in New York City. “The main reason why we are participating is that we are trying to ’86’ AIDS and to raise money but really more awareness about the fight against HIV and to help some of these mothers and their children,” Burke explained to Pursuitist.

A new PSA featuring top food celebrities will raise awareness around life-saving HIV/AIDS medication which costs as little as 40 cents a day. The PSA shows Mario Batali, Marcus Samuelsson, Martha Stewart, Pat LaFrieda, Padma Lakshmi, Wylie Dufresne, Daniel Boulud, David Burke, Buddy Valastro, Gabrielle Hamilton and Dana Cowin demonstrating absurdly small amounts of food valued at 40 cents, to highlight the low daily cost of medication.

“Just like the ad says, it just costs 40 cents a day to help these people,” Burke explained. “As chefs, restaurant owners and food writers, we really have the ability to get the word out and get people’s attention which is remarkable. And through the table, through wine, food and sitting at the table to have conservation, things get done. It is time to get charitable awareness on the table, so we are doing some specialty cocktails and RED-themed dishes at my restaurants.”

Entering its third year of partnership, (BELVEDERE)RED is involved with the EAT (RED) DRINK (RED) & SAVE LIVES campaign. Its product (BELVEDERE)RED is leading the charge on (RED) inspired cocktails, created by its Global Head of Mixology, Claire Smith, exclusively for participating bars and restaurants. “We have been a red partner for three years,” Charles Gibb, President of Belvedere Vodka, told Pursuitist. “This partnership allows us to get in the world that we live in which is bars and restaurants. Every time someone buys one of these RED cocktails, we donate the money.”

Since beginning its partnership in 2011, contributions from the sale of (BELVEDERE)RED have provided funding for more than 4.5 million days of life-saving HIV/AIDS medicine. “I am really proud of what we have achieved over the past three years,” added Gibb. “And every time someone buys a bottle of (BELVEDERE)RED, we donate half of our profit. We have donated several million dollars to the organization.”

While many establishments are currently featuring the (BELVEDERE)RED cocktails created by Belvedere’s Claire Smithsuch as those featured on Pursuitist—all bars and restaurants are allowed and encouraged to create their own cocktail recipes. Likewise, restaurants were able to concoct their own (RED) inspired recipes for the dishes they are featuring during the campaign. “The restaurants are using three different cuts of meat from Pat LaFrieda Meat Purveyors, but no one told them what to do with it,” says Batali.

Batali, who has authored several best-selling cookbooks, including “Molto Gusto“, “The Babbo Cookbook” and “Molto Batali: Simple Family Meals from My Home to Yours“, a RED-themed cookbook may be in store sometime in the future. “Maybe even with Bono as a co-author,” he said with a grin. “Now, that would sell a lot of books!”

From food truck favorites to Michelin-starred restaurants, there are EAT (RED) DRINK (RED) & SAVE LIVES food and drink experiences for everyone, including:

• (RED)-inspired menu items and cocktails at Michelin-starred restaurants including Mario Batali’s Babbo and Casa Mono, and Danny Meyer’s ‘The Modern’;
• Delicious snacks – from Asian fusion and Mexican to waffles and fresh juices – courtesy of the National Food Trucks Association’s army of every imaginable cuisine on wheels across the US;
• Queen of the Night – described as “New York’s hottest nightlife event!” by NY Magazine – will offer a special pomegranate-infused cocktail, the “Be Inspi(RED)”, for ten days in June;
• London-based ‘Battersea Pie Station’ will turn its classic British ‘pie & mash’ (RED), while other UK outlets ranging from sushi to pizza will offer special (RED) menus;
• Buddy Valastro’s iconic ‘Cake Boss Café’ in New York’s Times Square will offer special (RED) cupcakes during the month of June;
• Dubai and Monaco’s iconic ‘Sass Café’ locations will offer an extended (RED) menu
• Wylie Dufresne’s team of world-class mixologists will shake and stir inspiring (RED) cocktails at Alder;
• Brooklyn’s foodie destination, ‘Smorgasburg’, will turn (RED) on June 7th & 8th, serving (BELVEDERE)RED cocktails and special (RED) food items created by its artisanal vendors;
• BR Guest Hospitality will participate by featuring a (BELVEDERE)RED cocktail at ten of their restaurant locations nationwide;
• has teamed-up with (RED) and Mario Batali to offer one lucky winner a prize package which includes a private cooking class and dinner with Mario, plus a behind-the-scenes tour of the Eataly Italian Marketplace.

Pat LaFrieda is offering US-based participants a 50% discount on three cuts of meat, while (RED) partner, (BELVEDERE)RED, has created a range of cocktail recipes crafted by Global Head of Mixology, Claire Smith, exclusively for participating bars and restaurants. Peroni is the official beer of EAT (RED). DRINK (RED). SAVE LIVES, and will be creating (RED) promotions at a number of participating restaurants and bars.

Starbucks is supporting the campaign with a new way to give the gift of (RED) this year. For every Starbucks eGift purchased between now and June 6th, Starbucks will contribute a matching dollar amount up to $200,000 to the Global Fund. To participate, customers in the U.S. can select any one of Starbucks eGift designs on or the Starbucks Mobile App, which will include two new limited time (STARBUCKS)RED designs. Since becoming a (RED) partner in 2008, Starbucks has contributed more than $12 million to the Global Fund. will be listing and promoting (RED) restaurants, while making reservations easy for food fans who want to EAT(RED). Zagat is partnering with (RED) to support the campaign by highlighting top participating Zagat-rated restaurants through lists and features on, while helping readers discover where to dine to have an impact through online promotions and social media.

To date, (RED) has generated more than $250 million for the Global Fund to fight AIDS, to support HIV/AIDS grants in Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Rwanda, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania and Zambia. 100 percent of that money goes to work on the ground – no overhead is taken. Global Fund grants that (RED) supports have impacted more than 40 million people with prevention, treatment, counseling, HIV testing and care services.

Photos by Carrie Coolidge

Event Hosts Mario Batali, Pat LaFrieda and Deborah Dugan, CEO, (RED)
Charles Gibb, President of Belvedere Vodka
(Belvedere) Red Vodka BIG RED Mule cocktail
(Belvedere) Red Vodka cocktails

(Belvedere) Red Vodka
(Belvedere) Red Vodka and Peroni are Official Sponsors

Event Host Mario Batali
Event Host Mario Batali
The list of participating food trucks
The list of participating food trucks