Left-Julian Niccolini- Co owner Four Seasons Restaurant ,Center-Charlie Palmer owner of Aureole Restaurant, Right-Harry Smith Co-host The Early Show CBS News at the James Beard Foundation Gala.
The 2009 American Icons Gala was filled with celebrity chefs and celebrity folk who came to honor chefs and their achievements in the culinary arena, and raise funds for the James Beard Foundation which promotes a deeper understanding of american cuisine. Actor Alec Baldwin was in high spirits as he and other VIPs toured the Four Seasons Restaurant’s kitchen at 99 East 52nd Street. For one night only, several chefs being honored would use this kitchen for a tour de force menu. I briefly spoke with Restaurateur B. Smith and her husband Dan Gasby, about their feelings on where the industry is now. They spoke to me about how their customer ranges from the high end diner to ..”the woman who washes floors”… , and how a restaurant owner must now shift in order to meet the needs of their customer. Even Executive Chef Christopher Lee of restaurant Aureole, spoke of catering to a customer who can have more choice of what, and how much to spend. The Four Seasons Restaurant now has a prix fixe menu too. After the gentle hug and a kiss I got from co-owner Julian Niccolini, I just might give it a try. Tens of thousands of dollars swirled through the air as the auctioneer guided people to purchase sought after bottles of wine, dinner packages for 2 to 50 people and getaway trips to Paris, etc. Don’t know who was doing the bidding but sure would like to be their BFF. I sure get weak in the knees for men who can cook like nobody’s business. The most repeated phrase all night when guests were asked, why they were here? “I just like food.”. Me too. And I adore all the gifted people who created edible beauty on my plate.