The Date: April 3, 2007
The Venue: 7 World Trade Center, New York
The Crowd: Six of the best celebrity chefs-in-training from the New York area and from Bravo's cooking competition "Top Chef," foodies/gourmands, the editorial staff of "Food & Wine," a smattering of Bravo execs and a trio of hungry Freeloaders -- call us the Threeloader
|The invite to Food and Wine's food-fest|
The Drinks: Chardonnay and cabernet from Beringer so fresh the bartender had to smell it before it was served to you; and champagne by Charles Heidsieck, named after the first man to bring bubbly to the U.S. We were drinking the Christopher Columbus of champagnes, apparently.
The Swag: A hulking bag filled with branded gifts out the wazoo -- a bottle of Beringer's cabernet, a Samuel Adams bottle opener, a pick-me-up portion of Starbucks coffee liqueur, a java bar from Hershey's Cacao Reserve (just in time to be re-gifted for Easter) and the May issue of "Food & Wine"
When word got out that Food & Wine would be renewing its "Best New Chefs" bash this year with the help of its "Top Chef" teammates at Bravo, Freeloader knew the soiree was going to be more than just a one-man job. Therefore, a Threeloader team was created to more thoroughly pillage the cornucopia of goodies that awaited us.
This year's party was held on the 52nd floor of 7 World Trade Center, a raw space with exposed ventilation, pipes marked "storm water" and "hot water return," and no lights except those set up for the party. The exterior walls were floor-to-ceiling windows that at first looked hopelessly obscured by fog outside, but upon approach revealed amazing views of downtown Manhattan, including ground zero.
After a marching band led the new crop of Best New Chefs to a stage in the corner, Dana Cowin, Food & Wine's editor in chief, presided over an impressively brief induction-slash-introduction ceremony. The mag's publisher, American Express, kept its involvement low-key, so there were no sightings to be had of Ellen DeGeneres and those cute little animals from her commercial.
J.P. Kyrillos, VP-publisher, Food & Wine, was telling everybody that he met his fiancee at last year's Best New Chefs party. The third of Threeloader that wasn't otherwise coupled had no such luck, however.
What we did score with was the food. After we grabbed our third pork roll from the Momofoku booth, there were other hors d'oeuvres being distributed to keep the food flow going. Our faves: Malaysian chicken fingers with a papaya relish, and a bouquet of herbs wrapped in what appeared to be edible tissue paper. The latter created a cumulative taste similar to the way fresh grass smells -- in this case, not a bad thing.
Our only minor complaint was the dessert. While Haagen-Dazs is arguably the creme de la creme of pre-packaged desserts, it seemed odd to go from the best hot-off-the-skillet party snacks imaginable to a chocolate-raspberry bar wrapped and chilled in a freezer all night. But if there's one thing the Threeloader has learned from making the rounds of the party circuit: Never look a gift horse in the mouth. Particularly when said mouth is stuffed with ice cream.