Last night acclaimed and/or celebrity chefs, restaurateurs, members of the food press, bloggers, reality TV stars, PR people, and all manner of hooked up foodies made the trek over to far reaches of West 42nd St., to Espace, to attend Food & Wine's Best New Chefs Party. It was a boozer. Observations:
1) The awards part of the evening was, unsurprisingly, short and sweet. After a cute little number by a track suit and fedora-wearing dance troupe (see gallery; item #2), Dana Cowin and the Amazing Technicolored Dream Coat announced the winners, gave them a framed toque, and let everyone get back to their eating and schmoozing.
2) Genius F&W move #1 was booking Iconic from Randy Jackson Presents America's Best Dance Crew as entertainment. Could have been a disaster, but in its randomness was the right call.
3) Non-genius move #1, the bar situation. At 7:30 PM it was four deep at both—yes, only two—bars. Important party tricks include finding Kevin Patricio to magically appear with bubbly and champagne glasses, thereby allowing you to skip the line.
4) The chefs with their own stations were actually there manning them and they put out some pretty impressive little dishes. Gavin Kaysen's Crayfish and Quail Egg ('en gelee' with jambon, and asparagus chantilly) and Tom Colicchio's duck pastrami: perfection.
5) Which brings us to Daniel Boulud. D-Bitty. Really was, in his cool, what-up-bitches-I'm-Daniel-effen-Boulud manner, the Valentino of the event. Also big of him to put on a chefs coat and get behind the Cafe Boulud table for a bit. BNC Class of 1988.
6) Early exit award: Jennifer Baum (7:45 PM). Late exit award: Cutty, plus-2 (10:58 PM).
7) Top Chef alum Marcel Vigneron came out to help Hung at his chef's station. He just left a job opening a restaurant in Las Vegas (Company American Bistro) and is looking for a new project. He told us his vision for his dream restaurant and it involves a live olive tree, a huge chandelier, a U-shaped bar complete with touch screens, and a menu that will blur the line between savory and sweet (but not in a Sam Mason kind of way). Then one of his Top Chef brethren whispered something in his ear and he ran away. Xoxo, Eater.
8) Alright, after-parties. When the Espace workers started booting out the last of the drunks at around 10:30, the venues of choice were Ava Lounge, into Rusty Knot, into Spotted Pig.
9) Selected late-night moment: Tom Colicchio insisting, persuasively, that the judges do, in fact, make the final call on who stays and who goes on Top Chef.
10) Yes, that was New Kid on the Block, Joey McIntyre.