Farm Aid and Frankie the Butcher
And while the thousands of music lovers weren’t denied funnel cakes and fries, there was plenty of organic milk and yogurt – Horizon Organic was a major sponsor – and the VIPs (artists, production people and folks who bought all-access tickets) could catch a glimpse of Alice Waters (she was in town on book tour) and have some good eats from the Dinners-at-the-Farm chefs, Jonathan Rapp, of River Tavern, and Drew McLachlan of Feast Gourmet Market in Deep River, CT, who drove their big red kitchen-on-a-truck to the city without mishap and with baskets of some of the most fabulous wild mushrooms any of us had seen in a long time. (They ended up on top of grilled pizzas.)
A lot of sun, a lot of music and a lot of dishwashing later, we took off, knowing it was going to be a grand hassle to find our way off Randall’s Island and on to the Upper West Side. (If only we’d been as smart as Peter Hoffman of restaurant Savoy in Soho – he and his son bicycled to the concert!) But no, it wasn’t a hassle at all. We stumbled on a booth marked “Transportation” and discovered that the concert organizers had arranged to ferry staff hither and yon. So we hopped into a car with a guy who worked with Willie Nelson on a recent recording and headed across the river.
Now this is the real story of the day: Our volunteer driver was Frankie the Butcher! If this name sounds familiar to you, it’s because he was on Law and Order and in Spider Man 2 and he was Bobby Flay‘s sidekick on a bunch of Food Network shows. He’s an actor, but before that he was – and still is – a real-life butcher. In fact, he can often be found at Oppenheimer Meats on the Upper West Side. And how can I be sure he’s a real butcher? He talked about veal chops all the way into Manhattan! (And yes, he does look like he’s related to Tony Soprano. )
I’ve been convinced forever that the world is a small place and that the food world is even smaller, and last night certainly proved it – again.