So last night was the season premiere of the Food Networks 24 Hour Restaurant Battle and our great friend Gabriella Gershenson (above, right, with host Scott Conant) is one of the judges. To mark the occasion, Belinda Chang, wine director at The Modern, and John Winterman, Maitre D' Hotel at Daniel, hosted a party in Gabi's honor. I could probably stop right there and tell you that however you might imagine the gathering to have been, you would fall short. We stepped off the elevator and all we had to do was follow the sounds of a great party in progress: talking and laughter punctuated by the regular "pop" of a champagne cork. The buffet was set with platters of smoked fish, cured meats, terrines, and generous slices of foie gras, my favorite food in the world. Belinda and John kept glasses filled and circulated with tubs of caviar that they invited us to eat in the manner of the pros: with one fist slightly closed, put a half ounce on the soft skin between the first knuckle of your forefinger and the first knuckle of your thumb. Then slurp it up. More, please.
A highlight was catching up with photographer Noah Fecks, who with partner Paul Wagtouicz maintains the stunning and highly entertaining The Way We Ate. More on Noah and his various interests and enterprises to come. And we met Christine Deussen with whom David traded fond recollections of Kenneth Koch, their former Columbia professor. (Deussen Global represents France's Alsace region, home of the Strasbourg Cathedral, dry Riesling, and tarte flambe.)
But the main event was 24 Hour Restaurant Battle so at the appointed time, we gathered around the TV to watch the premiere. The competition follows two teams of aspiring restaurateurs as they conceive, plan and open their own restaurants, all within 24 hours. Gabi, whose experience as a journalist and editor covering the New York City food scene for Time Out New York and who is now a senior editor at Saveur magazine, weighs in on the likelihood that a contestant's restaurant would make it in the bare-knuckle restaurant world. The premiere episode features teams of ex-lovers who try to put aside their differences so they can make their culinary dreams come true. ( From the teaser: "as tensions -- and lobsters -- boil over, one team discovers their flame hasn't quite been extinguished.")
No spoilers here. You can watch a rerun of this first episode on Saturday at 4:00 pm and future episodes on Thursdays at 10:00.