Dine at Hugo's Restaurant this week, and the usually-free glass of tap water will cost you a buck. Why? The health-oriented, organic-friendly restaurant is participating in UNICEF's Tap Project, raising funds to provide children around the world with clean water by charging customers $1 per glass of tap water between March 20th to 26th.
"The first time I got involved with UNICEF was in 1970 when I was in 10th grade, raising money with a bunch of neighborhood kids, trying to do our part in the world," says Tom Kaplan, CEO of Hugo's Restaurants, who continues his support for UNICEF today. "It's worldwide children fund, you know? And water seems like such a basic, basic need. [The Tap Project] just seemed like a worthwhile effort."
Since getting involved about four years ago, Hugo's Restaurant has raised between $700 and $1200 each year for UNICEF's Tap Project. If you stop by one of the locations--West Hollywood or Studio City--this week to enjoy a glass of tap water, the contribution goes to the water-wise cause while also getting a taste of local flavor. Hugo's gets a lot of its local veggies from San Miguel Produce in Oxnard, organic chicken from Mary's in Fresno, and organic eggs from the Nichol's Family in Chino Valley and Riverside county.
And for a taste of Hugo's at home, try Hugo's head chef Nabor Diaz's recipe for Ginsing Chicken soup -- using good old L.A. tap water:
Ginseng Chicken Soup
1 ½ gallons water
5 lbs. chicken breast, diced (or whole chicken)
4 celery ribs, sliced
2 onions, sliced
7 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
½ c. ginger, thinly sliced
4 c. Shitake mushrooms, sliced
1 ¼ Tbsp. salt
¼ tsp. black pepper, ground
1 oz. ginseng, sliced (the better the ginseng, the better the flavor -- try Ten Ren on Spring St.)
1 c. cilantro, chopped
In a large pot add water and bring to a boil while dicing chicken and vegetables.
When water comes to a boil add all the ingredients except cilantro and let it cook for 45 minutes.
On the last minute add chopped cilantro, taste for seasoning and it is done.