[Photo via Helen Rosner/Flickr]
The James Beards Awards were held last night at Lincoln Center. The Awards recognize outstanding chefs, restaurateurs and food authors. But as much as it is a high honorarium, it's also one huge chef party. Ego maniac (and pretty freakin' amazing chef) Mario Batali was there in orange clogs. Tom Collichio was there, being good looking. David Chang, handsome, slim and dimpled, won best new restaurant for Momofuku Ko. Grant Achatz from Chicago's Alinea, tongue cancer survivor and slight elfin charmer, won for best cookbook. Gail Simmons, big boobs, there. And then tout à coup , Martha Stewart showed up, all gold and bitchy.
The press room was all atwitter with the arrival of the very tall seeming Stewart. According to one smoker, as she stepped under the loggia of the Travertine marble building, Ms. Stewart cast a cold stare at the huddled smokers. "Smokers!" she said in an admixture of contempt and condemnation. Later, Amanda Kludt from Eater asked if she could take her picture and Martha replied, "Hurry up now," in a tone of voice that, on the retelling of it, mixed a matriarchal tone with a Sapphic undercurrent.
I myself never got a chance to see Martha Stewart. If I had, I would have prostrated myself in front of her and kissed her manicured feet. Instead, I roamed around the upper floors of the Avery Fisher Hall, a flute of champagne in one hand and the other free to grab the hundreds of small plates of food. By far the best and the most unlikely treat of the night was the Bolinas Goat's Tongue with Metyer Lemon, Fenugreek, Mint an Tomato Chutney from Loretta Keller of San Francisco's Coco500 but a close runner up was the Cured Bone Marrow on Mustard Croutons with Parsley and Ramps from The American Restaurant in Kansas City. For dessert, Texan Rebecca Rather's Silken Bittersweet Chocolate Tarts with Mexican Vanilla Ice Cream, Whiskey Sauce and White Pralines took back the night.
All too soon, sadly, I got wasted and lest I spill my drink onto Daniel Boulud's back or make some innappropriate comment to Tom Collichi -- faux pas that would certainly result in Martha Stewart stealing up behind me, whispering "I'll cut a bitch!" in my ear then shivving me in the back -- I myself stole into the misty night.
-- JOSHUA DAVID STEIN
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