Fame is a funny thing. In my mind, it conjures up the image of extra long limos and actors in tuxedos and dark glasses. But, in today's media-saturated world there are so many other kinds of people who have scraped their way to the top of their field. Chefs are in that camp. They no longer hide in the kitchen in their cooking clogs and reduction-smeared aprons. When they are in the kitchen they are often wearing a headset, conducting drills via closed circuit TV with their disparate teams or perfecting recipes for their next blockbuster cookbook. And, outside the kitchen they are on TV, signing books on tour or meeting with developers eager to build their next location.
So, it was probably more foolhardy than courageous to try and gather ten of these superstars together for one effort. However, that was the task.
I have been working on a new project, IfOnly.com that makes incredible experiences available to people in order to benefit worthwhile causes. In this case, we were trying to create a magical way to raise awareness for child hunger. What if, we reasoned, we could assemble one perfect box of chocolates hand-selected by ten of the World's top rated chefs? Anyone popping the top would have instant access to a small batch of unique creations that show off the artistry and skill, not to mention creativity of ten incredible talents. This would not be a typical Whitman Sampler. It would be a virtual tour of some of the great kitchens of America.
The plan was so audacious that it just could work. Pick up the phone. Hold for fifteen minutes and then, "Would Chef be willing to drop everything, design a special chocolate, and make us a small batch?" (The top food talents love to be called 'Chef'- it's like 'maestro' to them) I pictured the great film LA Story where the chef in heavy french accent asks Steve Martin where he "summers" before considering his request. Yes, there were some chuckles but as we described the good it would do, one by one they agreed!
The end result, the most famous three-star chef West of God-knows-where, Thomas Keller submitted the French Laundry mint-infused bon bon. Chef Gary Danko created a peanut butter and jelly milk chocolate. Michael Mina fused aged rum with white chocolate and Madagascar Vanilla. There was no limit to the creativity. The end result is the Constellation a box of 28 chocolates for $100. All the profits go to Share our Strength making it the ultimate Valentine's Day gift.