Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The James Beard Foundation Awards

The James Beard Foundation Awards – otherwise known as the Oscars of the food world – was held Monday, May 7 at the Avery Fisher Hall in Lincoln Center. For those of you not familiar with this awards ceremony, its where the culinary who’s who gather in black tie attire, keep it together for a couple of hours, and then let it loose (after all we are talking about people who make a living selling food and alcohol). There was a red carpet, swarms of paparazzi, a pressroom filled to capacity, and what seemed like an endless supply of champagne and foie gras.

Officially it’s a two-day event. The first, a now infamous, Sunday night Chefs Night Out party, was followed by the Monday evening award ceremony and more after parties. — Lourdes Castro

Below is a recap of what was seen and heard ...

Avery Fisher Hall in Lincoln Center: The choice location for the 'Oscars' of the food world
Sunday, May 6 – Chefs Night Out Party @ Amalia in Mid-town.

9pm – Doors open. Not much going on.

Ted Allen (Queer Eye for the Straight Guy and just appointed judge for Top Chef) enjoying a cocktail by the upstairs bar.

Aaron Sanchez (Centrico, Paladar) having a coffee at the Illy Café cart set up at the back of the restaurant.

The very dapper Todd English (Olives) arrives with a crew of people.

Seemingly in a hurry, Spanish chef Jose Andres (Minibar, Washington DC) scours the basement level.

Wylie Dufresne (WD50) walks downstairs looking very happy and saying hello to lots of people.

Thomas Keller (Per Se, French Laundry, and Bouchon) and Daniel Boulud (Daniel, DB Bistro, etc) standing back to back by the bar. Have they seen each other???

Drew Nieporent is sitting by the coat check looking like he is ready to throw in the towel…and this is only the beginning.

Monday, May 7 – The James Beard Foundation Awards @ Avery Fisher Hall

PreEvent Set-Up

The award ceremony was followed by a Gala Reception featuring chefs from all over the country who have won or have been nominated as Rising Star of the Year (a chef age 30 or younger who displays impressive talent and who is likely to have an impact on the industry). Gala chefs began arriving at the venue at 2pm to begin set up.

David Chang (Momofuku Noodle Bar and Ssam Bar) is first gala chef to arrive for his walk through. He served Poached Green Asparagus with Miso Butter and Rice Crackers.

Corey Lee (The French Laundry) asking for an electrical outlet for the iron he brought to press all their linens. (Yes, they are that focused on detail.) He served Coronets of Scottish Salmon Tartare with Red Onion Crème Fraiche.

Jean Francois Bruel (Daniel) setting up the assembly line for the his Four Terrine Tasting (Duck a la Orange, Guinea Hen with Jack Daniels, Rabbit Porchetta, and Pressed Foie Gras with Four-Spiced Turnips)

Having forgotten to bring table decorations, Douglas Rodriguez (Ola Miami, De La Costa, Alma de Cuba), began looking for flowers to adorn his table. (Two flower vases from the VIP area were given to him.) He served Duck Breast Salad with Hearts of Palm and Coconut.
Award Show (some highlights)

Martha Stewart awards the 2007 Rising Star to David Chang. All gala chefs are on stage to congratulate the winner.

All gala chefs are herded outside for a group picture.

Martha Stewart runs out and places herself in the middle of the picture.

Bobby Flay is inducted into the Who’s Who

David Chang sporting his Rising Star award  
David Waltuck (Chanterelle) is awarded Best Chef New York City

Best Restaurant Service is awarded to Tru (Chicago)

9:22 p.m
Michael Laskonis (Le Bernardin) is awarded Best Pastry Chef

9:32 p.m.
Best New Restaurant is awarded to L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon

9:38 p.m
Thomas Keller, who is up against Keith McNally, Drew Nieporent, and Jean Georges Vongrichten, wins Best Restauranteur ( The French Laundry, Bouchon Bakery, Per Se

9:42 p.m.
Who would have thought the Outstanding Restaurant award would go to a Mexican restaurant in Chicago - Frontera Grill (Rick & Deanna Bayless)

9:50 p.m
Last award went to Michel Richard (Citronelle, Washington DC) for Outstanding Chef Gala Reception

Award show MC Hannah Storm quickly ushered into the VIP area was overheard saying how much fun she had on stage.

Jean Georges Vongrichten, nominee for best restauranteur, standing by Todd English’s table surrounded by loads of fans.

Jacque Pepin making a point of tasting Daniel Humm’s (Eleven Madison) Peekytoe Crab Cappuccino with Lemon Verbena.

Bobby Flay trades his suit jacket for a chef jacket, stand behind his table, and begins distributing Oyster and Lobster Shooters.

Grant Achantz looking very focused and professional behind his table personally overseeing the presentation of each Puffed Morel with Ramps and Black Pepper and Morel Financiers with Smoked Paprika and Jamon Iberico.

Thomas Keller, not allowing his table to be outshined by his neighbor Andrew Carmellini’s (A Voce) Duck Meatballs, personally began distributing his famous Coronets of Scottish Salmon.