Monday, March 12, 2007

chicago- open your mouth

I woke up at 3:30 this morning to fly out to Chicago to work a food festival event. This will be brief and photos will be forthcoming. Needless to say I met some stellar chefs and enjoyed seeing their softer friendly sides. I served tea next to Takashi and enjoyed chatting with his wife Kathy. They will be opening their new restaurant in Chicago soon and he just left the Wynn in Las Vegas. Ming Tsai mingled and made jokes with attendees. David Burke is jovial and approachable. His Las Vegas restaurant opens next week. Paula Deen and her husband were focal points during the VIP section of the evening. Cat Cora sought me out until I mentioned being vegetarian and then she agreed that her pulled pork buns would not really work with my diet. Paul Kahan busily shook hands and plated amuse bouche sized morsels. I spoke with Giada de Laurentiis about candying fruit peels and iron chef. She is gracious and lovely, which is always nice to discover people who are friendly on-screen have the singularity of character in person as well. Art Smith is kind and I have enjoyed his cookbook "Back to the Table" for years. Tyler Florence played the role of auction announcer during an intense high monetary extravaganza (the most exciting thing being auctioned was a business class ticket to London, where then the recipient would have breakfast with Nigella Lawson at the Wolsely and dinner with Jamie Oliver at one of his restaurants. How cool is that?)

Even with all these fun chef sightings and mini-conversations, Gale Gand was the bright spot of my evening. Her husband Jim had been a kind face among throngs of people all night long and though I wasn't absolutely sure he was her husband, he mentioned his wife worked with pastries and loved tea. I sent him back with a cup of black tea/lavender/tilleul/verbena/mango/black currant tea. She came over later to gush about how much she liked the tea which led into further conversation. She has done much for pastries in Chicago and nationally is considered one of the movers and shakers. Our conversation addressed building gingerbread houses. I told her she has a great husband (he was one of these people who came over and asked questions, genuinely interested and not with any celebrity). She then proceeded to ask me if I was married (no) and to exhort me not to settle, that when I marry I need to find someone and hold out for someone like Jim. She married when she was 45 and it was this beautiful unexpected evolution in our conversation. All in all, it was a good evening of connections and sightings.


Blogger Virginia Miller said...

What a dream event! I am so jealous!! David Burke, Cat Cora, Tyler Florence... how much fun! Paula Deen - if you are ever in Savannah, you must eat at her restaurant. Everything is smothered in butter but it was every bit as good, or even better, than we had hoped (we feared it would be touristy - it was; and overrated - it wasn't).

9:54 AM  

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