who was running around in his trademark shorts and sneakers,welcoming everyone to his home and generously doling out bear hugs
seen here with the legendary American editor, Judith Jones, the woman responsible for the publication of, among hundreds of other books,“>Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl (she is the one who, as a very young woman working in Paris, found the manuscript in the slush pile and championed its publication) and Julia Child‘s Mastering the Art of French Cooking“>Mastering the Art of French Cooking (and almost all of Julia’s books thereafter), and who has know written her own story, The Tenth Muse.
Because the event is relatively small and the guest list confined to past and present winners, Bon Appetit staff and contributors (which is how I got my invitation) and friends of the Bon Ap family, which means great chefs, restaurateurs, artisan producers, style trendsetters and designers – I can’t believe I was lucky enough to be seated with Eva Zeisel who, at 100, just designed two new lines of dishes from scratch
Eva Zeisel, who was the recipient of last year’s Bon Appetit Lifetime Achievement award, is seated to the left, her daughter, the actress and childrens’ book author, Jean Richards, is seated next to her and Barbara Fairchild, Bon Appetit’s editor-in-chief, is standing
The invitation read: 6:30 pm, Reception; 7:30 Dinner and Awards Presentation, but it was well past 7:30 when we sat down – people were having way to much time chatting and catching up with one another to pay attention to the staff gently and probably way too politely imploring us to be seated. I mean, how would you like to be the one to tell Jeffrey Steingarten, Vogue’s food critic, he had to put down his reverse tonnato vitello and take his seat?
Or break up the conversation among (from left to right)
Eric Ripert, chef of Le Bernardin and Bon Appetit’s 2005 Chef of Merit, Dan Barber, chef of Blue Hill and Blue Hill at Stone Barns and this year’s BA Chef of Merit (who gave an acceptance speech that was so funny I thought the talent scouts from late-night tv would grab him on the spot) and Joel Robuchon, who, in addition to being the Bon Appetit 2006 Chef of the Year and chef of L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon in New York and Las Vegas, is the man most great chefs in France consider the country’s greatest chef. Actually, it’s not just he great French chefs who idolize him – Americans are pretty crazy about him too, which explains why, when M. Robuchon was leaving and bent over to give me the traditionally French set of kisses, a woman passing by said to me, “You’re never going to wash your face, are you?” (Well, maybe not those two little spots.)
While the awards are very serious, the presentation was pretty lighthearted, which is just what you want and just what you’d expect from our host, Ted Allen, the food guru from Queer Eye, who know hosts the PBS series, Uncorked: Wine Made Simple
Seen here with Peter Elliot of Bloomberg, who looks like his separated-at-birth twin.
And the evening’s winners were:
Chef of the Year: David Chang of
‘s Momofuku and Momofuku Ssam Bar
Cooking Teacher: Molly Stevens, author, most recently of, All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
Chef of Merit: Dan Barber of New York
Pastry Chef: Kamel Guechida of Joel Robuchon’s restaurants at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas
Wine and Spirits Professional: Audrey Saunders of Pegu Club in New York City
New York City
Designer: Kelly Wearstler, designer of, among many other places, Whist, the restaurant in the Viceroy Hotel in Santa Monica
Food Artisans: Herb and Kathy Eckhouse, whose company, La Quercia produces extraordinary cured meats
Tastemaker: Target Stores
Restaurateur: Laurent Tourondel, whose BLT (bistro Laurent Tourondol) restaurants in New York
Food writer: Barbara Kingsolver for her wonderful new book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, about a year of eating locally.
Humanitarian: Father Gregory J. Boyle, who founded Homeboy Industries in
and helped thousands of gangmembers become bakers, chefs and caterers.
Lifetime Achievement: Ari Weinzweig and Paul Saginaw, founders of Zingerman’s Delicatessen in
and a great online resource for all things delicious.
And, in between the cheers, clapping and wonderful camaraderie, there was wine and food – a truly memorable meal from Mario Batali:
Insalata Salumi Misti
Tocai Friuliano, Bastianich 2005
Potato Gnocchi al Pomodoro with Basil Pesto
Rosato Bastianich 2005
Hand-made Orecchiette with Lamb Neck Sausage (a wow!)
Vespa Bianco, Bastianich 2004
Morellino di Scansano, La Mozza, 2005
Crostata di Mele with Almond Cream and Pancetta Streusel (another wow from pastry chef Nicole Kaplan)
Dindarello, Maculan 2006