A journalist drifted outside the media room to sneak a smoke outside. "Martha walks by and sort of hisses at me 'oooh smokers!' But if anybody is going to scold you it might as well be Martha."
Award winner John T Edge, Donut Expert and the Nicest Southern Man in the World, talks about Jack "I've Got Nine Children, Four on the Side" Arnold (the World's Best Food Award Speech Giver). "Jack and his beautiful wife run the best meat-and-three in Nashville, which is by definition the best meat-and-three in America," says Edge. "He makes amazing fried green tomatoes, beautiful green---he's not buying canned shit. He's locally focused, seasonally focused but he is not a precious son of a bitch."
Q: Which female food person are you most excited to see here?
A: I saw David Chang and...
Q: You know...
A: I know, I know. I'm more interested in the guys. Hmmmm...I heard Padma Lakshmi is ridiculously tall.
Mike Lata seems very calm. "I took a beta blocker. My doctor gave me one just for stage fright. You can print that. I've been nominated three times, this is my first win. It's nice to lose to great people but it's great to win. I feel very good now."
Barry Wine is generally pleased about the whole women in food stuff. With some exceptions. "You know I make jewelry. Well Padma Lakshmi is making jewelry now too. Her line just launched at Bergdorf's, today, I think. Well I've got a message for her," he says showing off his golden baubles. "Mine are bigger. "
Medal-winner Clark Wolf is dressed in black tie on black shirt. Was the monochrome look planned with an eye to the addition of an orange medal ribbon? Clark wisely ignores the sartorial accusation. "In 1984 I worked with Chris Kimball on the first awards," he says. "Afterwards I told him, great concept, lousy party. He said f-ck you, you do it. So for the next 3 or 4 years I did."
Editor's note: Wolf is referring to the first Who's Who of Food and Beverage in America awards. The first JBF Awards were in 1991.
Q: Who is the hottest woman in food?
A: Martha Stewart.
Q: Of all time?
A: Yes, of all time!
A crowded press room. People in black tie watching the awards on TV. There is a palpable need for strong martinis. We're in luck. Sort of. The lovely Charlotte Voisey, William Grant & Sons mixologist, has a plan to save us all from our worst instincts. Tonight at the Hendricks Gin Bar she's serving thematically correct Reverse Martinis. "This was Julia Childs's favorite cocktail---very sophisticated and Julia knew best that too much ethanol before dinner killed your palate. Instead of 5-to-1 gin to vermouth, she drank 5-to-1 vermouth to gin." For tonight's VIP dinner, Voisey is swapping Lillet for vermouth. "It seemed right that we pay tribute to Julia with this drink." Fitting and probably saving VIP from standing for Very Inebriated Press.
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."