Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Well done Marc Vetri and Team!

The Alex's Lemonade Stand Great Chefs event was better than I expected, and I had great expectations.

The venue, Urban Outfitter's Corporate HQ, was perfect for this type of event, huge open space with lots of really nice architectural detail, one of the old Navy Yard buildings that they recycled into a serene environment that is great to hang out in. When I first saw this space about 5 years ago, I drooled at the possibilities for it's utilization as event space, but UO keeps this very limited, as it is their home base.

Bringing my daughter Katie to this event gave me a second level of enjoyment, taking in all the offerings and chatting with people myself and showing all this to my daughter and trying to help her enjoy it. Luckily she is a foodie, she will be going to school to study this industry, and she is very social, thus I had very little to do to help her enjoy the evening, other than walk around and introduce her to people I know and wanted to know.

I wanted to introduce Katie to some strong women in the business, so the first two chefs we spoke to were Jenn Carroll of Top Chef renown and Gabrielle Hamilton the best-selling author, owner of Prune in NYC and a favorite chef of other chefs like Anthony Bourdain and Mario Batali. I have known Jenn for about 15 years when we both worked for Derek Davis at Arroyo Grille. I think it may have been Jenn's first kitchen job, she did salads and apps as I recall. She made this excellent crispy sweetbread dish, very yummy and non-threatening for the sweetbread novice. Jenn is a sweetheart, and I hope to see her go off on her own in the not too distant future. Investors get ready.

I first met Gabrielle when she was about 10 or 11, a budding juvenile delinquent and the youngest sister of my brother Jon's good friend Simon. Over the years, I have been friends with all of Gabrielle's 4 siblings except her, it's just that I never spent time with her being 8 or so years older. She was serving the Hamilton family famous dish, shrimp with anchovy butter, this was my second favorite item of the evening.

Other food highlights included John Besh's shrimp and grits (the grits were the best part); Michael Solomonov's beef cheek with cauliflower puree; Ken Oringer's daikon and crab roll; Shake Shack's burger; and the crispy pasta shell with this wild chopped antipasto like topping that was served by Batali's Exec. at Del Posto, Mark Lardner.

Best in show, by my subjective analysis, was Barbara Lynch's (Boston based) paella croquette with a chorizo topping. Perfect event food, easy to eat, amazing flavors, lightly crispy, very different. Great job Ms. Lynch. Larry Magid, of Electric Factory fame, agreed with me on this one. The most mentioned favorite when I asked others was Besh's shrimp & grits.

We met some other famous chefs including Jose Garces, Aaron Sanchez, Drew Nieporent, Marc Vetri, and Jonathan Waxman. As we were standing in line for the shrimp & grits (the only line of the evening), we chatted with Wanda Sykes, one of my favorite funny people.

From a caterers perspective the event was virtually flawless, from an event planners view there was one potential glitch I saw, but I will have to get back to you on, as I left before what I predicted to Katie had a chance to happen.

I also will do a wrap by Friday on how much the event raised, total number of guests, answer to above prediction, etc..

Enjoy this beautiful day.

Love & Harmony.

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