way too hot for a tuxedo

It wasn’t easy juggling a glass of wine, food, and my camera, so I didn’t snap many photos at the James Beard Awards last night. And don’t even get me started about dressing up in black tie formal wear when it’s 90+ degrees outside. (Let’s move the event back to May, please.) Anyway, the food celebs were out in full force last night. That’s Lidia Bastianich above, of course. She looks so serious.

And that’s Tom Colicchio, a pretty unlikely TV star if you ask me. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always been a fan of his restaurants. I just kind of laugh seeing him on TV. My apologies to his fans. Anyway, the awards themselves were as dull as ever, although I’d swear they’ve shaved 20 or 30 minutes off the production in the past year or two. (Thank you!) It’s really about the food that comes after the awards. Last year there was some debate about how the chefs were going to serve anything, because heating devices weren’t allowed in Avery Fisher Hall. This year it didn’t seem to be a problem, because plenty of things I tried were hot. It didn’t help much though. Most of what I tasted was dull. Some of it was bad. I hate to say it, but it’s not like the good old days. The $450 ticket price is beyond absurd. Really, if I wasn’t going for work, I can’t imagine paying that kind of money in a million years. It’s not worth half the price.

This cured rainbow trout from Bacchanalia in Atlanta was a stand-out. (There had to be something good, right?) Chez Panisse was serving a strawberry gelato (or was it an ice cream?), and that was another winner. I love the way they keep things simple. When I hear people say that Chez Panisse is over the hill, I just want to laugh.

There is Michael Nischan with his meatloaf. Yes, meatloaf. It nearly stole the show. I admit I couldn’t get near the tamales from Cucharamama, but I work a few blocks from there, so I’ll just stop by in person and try it for dinner some time. And that’s about all I have to say. I snuck out a little on the early side, to be totally honest.

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