It feels like a food-world mafia wedding out here under the portico. A bespectacled Alain Ducasse sneaks by the press table undetected. Emeril is chatting and taking photos with Traci Des Jardins. Gregarious Drew Nieporent stops by in a pale pink bow tie. So what about women in food? I ask. "Are you kidding me?" says Drew. "Leslie Revson, Deborah Ponzack, Traci Des Jardins, Patricia Williams, Claudia Fleming (way before Gramercy). It has nothing to do with gender--it has to do with talent and giving people opportunity. I think I've lead in that category." And the pink tie? "This is the only tie I've got that fits--nothing to do with gender there either."
The doors are open, the rain is pouring. Alain Ducasse, Daniel Boulud, Traci DesJardins, Drew Nieporent, all are squeezing into the reception. Dishes still empty and stations awaiting...
Some might be surprised that this year's JBF Awards recognizes women in food considering women have long been associated with the kitchen. Julia Child is one of the most recognizable names in food, but it's important to keep in mind that her audience was post-war housewives eager to make their husbands happy with coq au vin and mousse au chocolat. Before 24/7 food television, celebrity chefs, and best-selling kitchen-tell-alls, men ruled the kitchen because cooking was considered a blue-collar profession for those with few other options—an unsuitable profession for a "lady." Hopefully, this year's awards ceremony represents a change in public opinion and in practice.
When asked what she thought about the fact that so many fewer females become chefs, Maria Hines from Tilth said, "I definitely hope this changes things. I think it's great that JBF hosts this event and gives us a chance to be in the spotlight." Jennifer Coco from Flat Iron Cafe sees the disparity in numbers between male and female chefs as inspiration. "I hope it doesn't change because people are always so surprised to see me! It gives me energy and motivates me!" Suzanne Tracht from Jar thinks the ratio of male to
When asked who she would most like to serve her lemongrass-cured salmon with Thai-marinated vegetable small plate to this evening, Jennifer Coco of Flat Iron Cafe didn't hesitate: "Jean-Georges!" she exclaimed. "That's the dream." I’ll check in with her later to see if dreams come true at the JBF Awards.
The big plaza in front of Avery Fisher Hall will always say Moonstruck to me, and I bet the nominees feel like the post-makeover Cher awaiting Nicholas Cage. It's bright and rainy out and there's a feeling of drizzled anticipation in this room. I'll try not to draw movie comparisons all night but can make no promises.
Meredith Arthur, CHOW
This year's James Beard Awards couldn't be more different than the last. Last year's heat wave required attire of linen and flip flops while this evening's rain requires something a bit more solid and water resistant for the red carpet. Fingers-crossed that the monsoon abaits a bit. I attended '08 solo, while tonight I have Monsieur Snack as The Escort. Fingers-crossed on that category as well. Which leaves me a bit torn between schmoozing in the press room and smooching in the theatre. Perhaps I can have my gâteau and eat it too.
Hard to believe, but for most of our cocktailing history it was illegal for women to mix drinks. Tell that to the 13 women mixologists shaking and stirring drinks tonight at the 2009 Beard Awards. Read more about the history of the women behind bars in this WSJ piece
by Eric Felten.
Backstage at Avery Fisher Hall the Steinway pianos have been moved into hallways to make room for hot boxes and other catering equipment as the 28 female chefs take their positions on the promenade for the 19th annual JBF Awards gala. The Women in Food theme is evident in the bright pink table linens and the explosive bouquets of spring flowers. Between the chef stations, thirteen female mixologists from across the country are setting up their mixers and shakers. The press room is halfway set—with step and repeat in place. What's this? A Hendrick's Gin bar in the press room? Should make for interesting interviews. Countdown is 26 minutes to red carpet (tented, sadly, due to rain).
We recently stumbled upon this roundup
of New York City’s haute dogs by Josh Ozersky of Citysearch
. Since Mr. Ozersky has declared that hot dogs are finally having their moment, our egos compel us to mention that nearly a year ago we published a piece in our bimonthly member newsletter, JBF Notes
, that forecasted the frankfurter’s ascension to gourmet status. Here’s the prescient article
by our own senior editor, Cia Glover; check out the recommendations for top dogs in New York and beyond.