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The Economy Hasn't Killed All the Fun in Magazine Land

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Food & Wine held its annual Best New Chefs party last night. Or, as I like to call it, My Annual Excuse to Drink Something Other Than Bourbon. But seriously, it's one of the magazine's biggest events of the year, with hordes of people and sponsors (including All-Clad, Beringer, Fiji Water, Infiniti, Patron and Stella Artois) descending on Manhattan to rub elbows with chefs, celebrities and even celebrity chefs. Among those cruising the scene to get their nosh on: Sarah Jessica Parker, Kyle MacLachlan, Katie Lee, Sara Gore, Tom Colicchio, Gail Simmons and Ann Burrell (and her hair).

Credit: Sylvain Gaboury/FOOD & WINE Magazine
Last night's event was held at The Four Seasons. Fun fact: The Four Seasons was the first place I lunched with a PR person back when I was a wee lad cobbling together the People & Players photo page for Ad Age. (I had real power back then!)

I did find it odd that Food & Wine chose The Four Seasons for its party. In previous years, it's been held in edgier, non-traditional spaces such as ferry terminals, lofts and the fog-enshrouded upper floor of a skyscraper. So I cornered F&W publisher Christina Grdovic to ask her why they picked it—I mean aside from the fact that The Four Seasons serves cotton candy (seriously). Grdovic pointed out that it is both a social and culinary institution in New York, an iconic place to hold such a party. The space certainly provided a certain dramatic flair to the dance number which took place around the fountain. See the photo.

Oh, and one other thing. It was one of the few places into which they could drive a car, a requirement of event sponsor Infiniti (apparently part of a larger corporate partnership with American Express Publishing). And even then they had to remove the doors to get the car in there. Perhaps the weirdest thing of the evening wasn't seeing Kyle MacLachlan ("Dune"!) or the deconstructed Buffalo wings (chicken thigh, celery puree and something called "Nitro Blue Cheese" from chef Michael Voltaggio), but seeing Infiniti's 2011 M parked inside the lobby of The Four Seasons. (Yes, I'm easily amused.)

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