For all the intricate planning and amazing coordination that goes into the lavish and beautiful JBF Awards ceremonies, dinners, and receptions, the casual, crowded, invitation-only Chefs Night Out may very well be the most fun event of the weekend. Everyone is there—chefs, purveyors, nominees, journalists, celebrities, friends, family, colleagues, food-world legends, you name it. There's a flirtatious, chatty vibe, and the atmosphere is punctuated with surprise and delight as friends run into friends they haven't seen since last year's festivities. Tonight's venue, the modern Indian sensation At Vermilion, was a perfect setting, especially given the overall theme of the 2009 festivities: Women in Food.
Once through the blockade of clipboard-clasping door people, senses were seduced by the heady scent of Indian spices from chef/owner Rohini Dey's contemporary cooking and the pounding beat of Bollywood-inflected music spun by DJ Rekha. Airy and bright, the flower-strewn space was near capacity—a total of 979 RSVPs had been received, and droves of people showed up who weren't on the list. Salman Rushdie, one of the investors in the restaurant, vied with Thomas Keller for the
It's time to decide what you are going to wear tomorrow night for the James Beard Foundation Awards Gala at Avery Fisher Hall. Better make sure your shoes match your gown and your tux is pressed. You'll see co-hosts Stanley Tucci before the world sees him play Paul Child (Julia's hubby), NOLA celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse, and Iron Chef Cat Cora. We're expecting sightings of Martha Stewart, Lorraine Bracco, Tom Colicchio, Jacques Pépin, Thomas Keller, Grant Achatz, David Chang (look for his "party bus"), and more. Check back here for live awards coverage from a team of guest bloggers as we celebrate at the Media Awards, Chefs Night Out, and at all the great restaurants around town. There's no other weekend quite like it.