Meredith Arthur: This is my first Beard Awards

And I'm very impressed by the huge screen. Huge as in full-stage-Avery-Hall-giant. It means you can see every detail of the presenters. The room is highlighted in pink (theme is women, after all) and the spotlights are purple,casting the whole thing in a pastel glaze.  A delicious cotton candy presentation indeed.

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Adam Sachs: Screaming fans

Smiling stragglers Wiley Dufresne and Dave Chang are standing together saying something to the diminishing press line. There are some fans and I believe they are literally screaming. Or cooing. Seeing the two of them makes me think of their eponymous hot dogs at PDT. Hungry. How long till the gala?

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Jody Williams: About time

Ted Allen says it is about time to pay homage to the under-represented other half.

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Meredith Arthur: Who are you wearing?

Blogging an award ceremony seems to beg for some sort of fashion commentary. I can tell you that I am looking at everything from prom dresses--short, pink, sateen--to California summer to grande dame stately. A woman in front of me in line is sporting a huge faux tattoo of the word "terroir" on her back, advertising her husband's wine store.

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Adam Sachs: That somethin' somethin'

B. Smith, defying the rainy gloom in a bright, pretty pink dress: "This is a long time coming. Long time coming. Women bring an extra somethin' somethin'. Men are great, we love men. But I think women bring something different, a certain style and a different kind of management. We've been in the kitchen for years so this is a great thing."

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Meredith Arthur: More arrivals

I'm standing next to the arriving line as the check in parade happens. Hugh Acheson of 5&10 in Athens, Georgia, just told me that the psychiatrist from the Sopranos just walked in. He's a three-time nominee from the Southeast who I am now rooting for due to his niceness. That's all it takes with me.

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Jody Williams: Picture time

Lots of group picture-taking--in one corner we have Dan Barber and not far behind there is Thomas Keller under the lights.

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Jody Williams: Bells are ringing

Signaling that it is time to sit or eat...let's go take a look.

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Adam Sachs: Mafia wedding

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."

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Jody Williams: Arrivals

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...

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