Andrew Zimmern bit someone's head on the red carpet (it was actually green... the carpet, not the head), Marcus Samuelsson wore white Valentino and shoes he'd designed himself (left), chefs from disparate culinary worlds like Anne Burrell and Thomas Keller could be seen side by side, there were pigs dressed to the nines doing the red (er, green) carpet strut, and the foie gras posters that had protested the Books, Broadcast, and Journalism Awards on Friday at Espace would have actually had some foie gras to be upset about (on what was, amusingly enough, National Foie Gras Day).
Thus began the 2011 James Beard Foundation Awards at New York City's Lincoln Center on Monday evening, a miracle for having gone off so seamlessly when you consider the partying at Sunday Night's Chefs' Night Out Party at Chelsea Market.
The James Beard Foundation's coverage with a full list of winners can be found on their site. Some notes, observations, and things gleaned from watching, talking to, and observing chefs, writers, and food celebrities on the green carpet, in the press room, at the gala, and at some of the after-parties before Tuesday's hangover observations...
• Green carpet walk starts at 5 p.m. with Drew Nieporent first on line. There's a foot of space for each press member along the green carpet, which soon sees Ming Tsai, Bobby Flay, and Farmer Lee Jones.
• A pretty svelte looking Andrew Zimmern jokingly tries to bite a fellow green carpet walker's head, then notes that he "often argues in meetings that they should turn the cameras around and film. The sh*t that happens on the bus beats what shows up on the show by about 17 to 1. But isn't that always the case?" When asked where the best after-party of the night will be Andrew Zimmern noted, "Geez, I don't know. I usually wait until the last moment to find out. I grew up in New York City, it'll be just like it was when I was a kid, standing on the street corner with a bunch of my friends, looking at each other and asking, whose parents are out of town tonight?"
• Asked who he was rooting for, Ming Tsai noted fellow Next Iron Chef contestant, Bryan Caswell. Where the best after-party would be: "Don't know. Drew just handed me a piece of paper, so let's check that. Nope. It's a flyer for an HBO movie. Only Drew would be handing this out on the red carpet."
• Most Notable Kicks on the Red Carpet: Marcus Samuelsson sported self-designed, slip-resistant "front of house, back of house" work gear (which you can buy online from Mozo), though Duff Goldman's green Addidas were strong. It should be noted, to little surprise, Marcus was the overall winner fashionwise with his white Valentino suit. Asked what was next for Harlem, Marcus noted his "Nook" at Red Rooster had just opened. You can get fresh biscuits and other goodies to-go there.
• "Has anyone gotten shocked?" asked former Ace of Cakes star, Duff Goldman about shaking hands on the red carpet. "I keep getting shocked!"
• Michael White on Al Molo, his new restaurant in Hong Kong, "There are things to get around, like trying to find semolina." As to his pick for must-hit restaurant in Hong Kong, it's the dim sum at Lung King Heen in the Four Seasons. Why? "The casing is translucent, so thin. It's just there so that you can pick up what's inside it."
• General consensus on the carpet is that the dark horse place to be for the afterparty is The Jane for the Momofuku/Torrisi afterparty. Most must be assuming Torrisi is going to win award for Best New Restaurant (they didn't.)
• Anne Burrell on repeatedly beating co-host Robert Irvine, "I keep knocking him down. He keeps coming back for more. And I don't plan on losing to him anytime soon." Look forward to many new television appearances by Burrell including Next Iron Chef, Worst Cooks in America, and more.
• Chefs Thomas Keller of Per Se and French Laundry, and Grant Achatz of Alinea spotted on red carpet together. Pretty cool sight for anyone into the food world who has read Achatz's Life, On the Line, which recounts his experience at French Laundry and his rise to prominence.
• Here's the scene inside the press room: Nourishment means spicy meatballs from the guys at The Meatball Shop. Best bite unquestionably is the spicy meatball. What might not you know about the new Williamsburg outpost? "Williamsburg will have a full bar." Also, there's no graffiti up yet on the boarding of the space, taggers. Used to be "some Polish guy's apartment." Team Serious Eats stays in a triumvirate by the chefs' entrance, Eater takes the wall behind them, and outlets become an urgent hot commodity.