By a factor of twenty-five, the show better than the Beard Awards Ceremony is the show that follows it, the after party circuit. There were, by our count, seven parties, counting the official Gala at Lincoln Center and also including the David Chang Bus of Booze and Loose Women (non-official title). To round out the pack: Lee Shrager's party at PJ Clarke's, the Bar Boulud/Dinex party, Danny Meyer's Eleven Madison Park Throwdown, Danny Meyer's late show at Gramercy Tavern and an impromptu bender at Rusty Knot. Some semi-coherent thoughts on the evening, roughly in chronological order:
1) The first first thing anyone said to us upon arrival at Lincoln Center was, "have you been on the bus?" a refrain, it would turn out, that would repeat many more times. The bus being one of two Momofuku party buses run by Ssam Bar keeper Corey Lane, going since Sunday at 2 PM. Some unofficial facts and figures on the bus: 3 kegs, 100 bottles of assorted booze, 2 stripper poles, two dozen pork butt groupies. And...we have shitshow.
2) The consensus on party order at 11 PM: Boulud, Schrager, Eleven Madison Park, Gramercy Tavern, Rusty Knot.
3) Eater modification: Schrager then Boulud. Though it never got packed, the Lee Schrager party at PJ's had a 12:1 burger to person ratio. Base coat, check.
4) Team Chang modification: Blow off Boulud and Schrager, booze on the bus en route to The Rusty Knot. Cooks, non-prick restaurateurs, Chang groupies and Kate Krader were all invited to take this route.
5) Following an excommunication over this, we didn't get a chance spend the usual 10 minutes looking at camera phone photos of him and Paul Liebrandt cuddling at Yankee Stadium. But, Drew Nieporent double fisting at the Gala: strong move.
6) Thank you for your hospitality, Team Boulud. But, important lesson learned: when there is charcuterie as far as the eye can see and your man is holding court, the downstairs at Bar Boulud is quite a showpiece. When there are zero Bouluds (dude was at the Canadian Grand Prix, we hear) and just one table of eats, and the air-conditioning is acting spotty, it's kinda sorta just a basement.
7) In contrast, Team Meyer came hard and fast at Eleven Madison Park, winner of the Beard for wine service—and hands-down winner for biggest party. More than they're about wine, you see, they're about people—this sentiment available on request from any EMP staffer on the premises.
8) 2:15 AM: The EMP-branded plastic stadium cups came out. Because, of course Danny Meyer has a stash of plastic stadium cups, ideal for late, impromptu parties, just sitting in a storage room somewhere.
9) Which brings us to the matter of Chang's setup. If Meyer gave a clinic on shitshow avoidance technique, Chang displayed skill of an entirely different sort. All it took him to get everyone on his team a blood-alcohol level of .20 was 12 hours, a bus, and enough alcohol to kill a mid-grade fraternity.
10) Dispatch from Gramercy Tavern, 3:30 AM. Still going. 5 AM, Florent, still going. Semi-related, Marisa May, lady keeper of San Domenico and now on the Baltz Co. PR program, on hangover prevention: "You just have to drink a lot of tequila." Uh huh.