Padma Lakshmi, David Chang, Gail Simmons Bare All At 'The Moth'
The Moth, a Peabody award-winning non-profit that hosts live storytelling events (and has a very successful podcast), debuted its fall season in New York City with an all-food stories lineup. Moth Eaten: Food Adventures of Epic Portions brought in a motley crew of food storytellers to share hilarious and moving tales of chowing down to an East Village audience of over 900 people.
Padma Lakshmi was the evening's host. She was much more light-hearted and easygoing than she sounds when she's telling Top Chef contestants to pack their knives and go. Lakshmi pardoned herself for having to burp during her introduction and later acknowledged that she was a "skinny bitch" (she is). In the second half, Padma spent awhile asking for donations to The Moth and a member in the audience stood up and said he would give The Moth $1000 if she would get off the stage. She did.
First up was New Yorker writer Adam Gopnik. He explained that he married his wife despite the fact that she orders her meat well-done. He believed that she was imposing this well-done way of being on their children and thus was teaching them "to be afraid of life." After a particular evening involving a piece of tuna that his wife and kids forced him to overcook, Gopnik found a solution. Now, he braises everything.
Following Gopnik was chef and owner of the ever-popular Momofuku mini-empire, David Chang. Chang outright admitted that he doesn't get intimidated by food critics. In fact, when he knows that someone important in the food world is dining at his restaurants, Chang and his chefs chant "kill, kill, kill" before serving food. However, two years ago, when the Michelin Guide director at the time, Jean-Luc Naret, ate at Chang's most ambitious and experimental restaurant, Momofuku Ko, Chang felt off-kilter and nervous. Ko already had two Michelin stars and Chang didn't necessarily want a third -- from there you can only go down. Chang stated that if any chef tells you they don't care about the Michelin Guide, they're "full of shit." He ended with a somber mood -- he cares very much and the Guide comes out in a few weeks; Chang is "deathly afraid" of losing a star.
After intermission, Gail Simmons (who Padma called "the friend you'd want to get caught smoking in the bathroom with"), eloquently divulged that she used to have food OCD. She plans restaurant meals extremely carefully, even when on her honeymoon in Vietnam. Simmons looked forward to eating at a specific restaurant that served a specific Vietnamese dish of snakehead with turmeric and dill. Through a series of mishaps, the meal never happened and Simmons found herself sobbing uncontrollably for hours upon hour, with her husband of three days unable to console her. After waking up at 6am after crying herself to sleep, Simmons calmed down and realized how ridiculous she was being. She no longer puts as much pressure on herself for eating something great at every meal.
Many additional props go to the stories by New York police officer Steve Osborne and "Queen of Mean" Lisa Lampanelli, both of which were incredibly engaging and touching...wait for the podcast!