8:02: Word in the press room is the afterparties are at Bar Boulud, Lee Schrager's shindig at P.J. Clarke's, Eleven Madison Park, Todd English's annual fest at Olives, and of course Chang's bus (which, as he politely informed us, we are definitely not invited to).
8:08: The consensus in the press room is there are serious production issues here. So serious that one could fairly classify this as...a shitshow.
8:10: All the press people who didn't have to arrive early to report on this show and all the people in the event hall who are bored to tears have found their way into the press room. The party is getting starting.
8:28: It's really baffling that they don't have a live video feed for this thing.
8:30 Morimoto's design firm wins for best restaurant design. Morimoto hams it up for the crowd, fanning his designer with paper fan.
8:31: When we said the party was getting started in the press room...we were wrong. It's died down again. That said, Julian Niccolini (of the Four Seasons) has arrived, so the tide could turn.
8:37: La Grenouille loses out the Best Service Award to Terra.
8:40: Babbo's Gina DePalma and Pichet Ong lose out to the San Francisco's Tartine for the Best Pastry Chef Award
8:45: Things we get for free: the press room snacks are kindly provided by Artisanal, a restaurant that doesn't miss a marketing opportunity. All press members get a gift certificate for two seats at a cheese class. You want ours?
8:51: OMFG we are getting to the final four!! Flay is visibly excited.
8:52: And the James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant goes to Central Michel Richard. Tough break Psilakis and Arpaia. Luckily Richard is cute and jovial like a big French Santa Claus. Who could mind losing to him?
8:55: Keller on being a strong restaurateur: takes vision, takes a team, dedication, etc. Keller then can't read teleprompter. Makes an awkward save.
8:56: Joe Bastianich and Mario Batali win best restaurateurs. Batali is a no show and Joey B does the speech solo, does an accent, gets the laughs. The first time everyone in the press room is actually paying attention to the TV.
9:01: Outstanding Restaurant Award goes to Gramercy Tavern. And it is a big night for Danny Meyer. From his speech: It's taught me about giving, about teaching, about learning, about loving, about eating, and so on. Meyer for Mayor.
9:05: Grant Achatz wins the triumph over adversity award a.k.a. the Outstanding Chef Award and gets applause in the press room and a standing ovation from the crowd. Gives props to Tom Keller and his tight ship at the French Laundry. Achatz also notes the drive he learned at the Laundry helped him with his battle with cancer. Gets second round of applause in the press room.
9:11: Kim and Bobby say we can all eat now. Check in tomorrow for the hangover observations.