A Caterer's Perspective
Blogging was made for nights like tonight. When the magical feeling in the room is so potent that you need to share it as fast as possible before anything fades.
It was in the Allen Room, at Jazz at Lincoln Center, where Time Inc held its annual fest to toast the 100 Most Influential People in the World; it is a broad and eclectic group representing great minds, deep souls and outrageous talent.
In a year like this, any legitimate reason to get together can result in spontaneous celebration. Add the superstars, mere stars and other constellations on tonight's guest list and it is riotous. As in simply divine!
The buzz in the room was palpable from the moment the first guest arrived. Perhaps it was in anticipation of the arrival of a very special Time 100 honoree, Michelle Obama. The room was mesmerized as she spoke about the Barack Obama administration's vision for a new America (with a big smile on her face). We all felt so good - so at home - in a way that we hadn't in at least 8 years.
But I am jumping ahead of myself. Cocktail hour. My first conversation of the evening was with the very brilliant and charming Arianna Huffington, at whose pleasure I write on this illustrious website. It is always a pleasure to greet and be greeted by her. A brief hello to Barbara Walters who in addition to everything incredible about her life and career, is often a very honored guest at our Ballroom at the Plaza Hotel where my associates jump through hoops to spoil her; a riveting conversation with Mort Zuckerman who shared a peek into his crystal ball (and if you are interested, keep buying the Daily News to find out what he has to say); and most wonderfully, a warm and sweet greeting from Dan Barber, my most favorite person to speak on behalf of food and food politics with humor, eloquence and brilliance. And he is a Time 100 honoree. (The only catered event I would have traded tonight's for would be for the honor of catering his wedding. I am patient Dan - I hope she is too!)
A. R. Rahman performed. Was it Mumbai or the thriving pulse of another citythat thrilled and transported the listeners?Oprah saluted teachers - who would not agree? Paul Krugman saluted his wife -very romantic.Somaly Mammade us cry and took our breath away. The Twitter Boys earned my ever-lasting love and respect. I love that we wholeheartedly and sincerely embraced their statement that their success is about humanity, not technology. I would like to embrace them. Their toast was tweeted on the giant plasma screens. The perfect 140-character sound bite. For the moment, I suspended my skepticism of technology and ignored the shadow of a brave new world.
Naturally, the menu was the ideal backdrop to all this good feeling. An opening salad of Organic Tomato, Lobster and Wild Basil will do that to a room every time. Jimmy Fallon was beyond irreverent and made me laugh so hard - is being so funny legal or just the natural outcome of such a delicious and inspirational first course?
John Legend sang, undoubtedly nourished by his dinner of Aged Filet Mignon with Asparagus and Wild Mushrooms. The seasonal debut of this beloved vegetable makes me sing too!
Honoree Stella McCartney, noted designer and vegan, inspired our chef to create a luscious dinner alternative of Mixed Grill of Tofu and Portabello Mushrooms with an Asparagus and Tomato Ragout, Wild Mushroom Miso Broth and Katchkie Farm Mizuna.
It is not unusual to leave a gala evening feeling tired and ready for a glass of red wine before going right to bed. Not tonight. Tonight was all about the feeling and spirit in the city's most beautiful event space. Tonight, everyone had fun. We collectively chased away the recession blues and had a good old-fashioned feel good party so masterfully organized by Ronnie Davis for our fifth year. Encore!
The guests were sincere and alive and earthbound with atypical warmth. The service staff felt energized and proud to have participated in the success of the evening. They too laughed and cried. The city outside looked on mesmerized by the activity behind the giant glass wall overlooking Central Park South. My taxi driver was thrilled to know Michelle Obama was the cause of the traffic jam. I was truly satisfied and could not wait to come home to put all this into words.
I wish each of you could sample a taste of the menu. Maybe next year.