GQ's The Roast of Alan Richman
By the time the man of the hour entered the Le Bernardin lounge at 7:30 p.m. for GQ's The Roast of Alan Richman, most of the New York food world was already two drinks in.
There was PDT's Jim Meehan commenting to the bartender behind it about the restaurant's new bar, "I wish I had this at home," and catching up on the doings of fellow New York bartender Greg Seider. Chef David Chang took the far corner of the room, surrounded.
FCI founder Dorothy Cann Hamilton caught up with chef Jonathan Waxman in the center of the room. Anthony Bourdain, the roast's anticipated closer showed up sharply dressed, his very large movie star head several higher than those in the rest of the room, especially so over the scraggly-bearded Time writer Josh Ozersky who could be overheard discussing the matter of double-chins.with chef Michael White who he was attentively patting. "Does that beard do anything to help?" White asked suspiciously.
And so it went, Colicchio, Samuelsson, Frank Bruni, Sam Sifton, and the rest of the New York City food gang warming up to the nature of the night's celebration, good-naturedly ribbing each other while smoked salmon caviar croque monsiuers, kampachi tartare with wasabi tobiko, and albacore 'Salade Niçoise,' were passed around and drinks were poured.
"Everyone always crowds in, and the whole restaurant is empty," restaurateur Drew Nieporent could be overheard saying as the growing crowd almost upset a tray of hot lobster 'Cappucinos.' "There's a table with name cards over there," someone suggested, pointing to the opposite side of the room where Eatocracy's Kat Kinsman chatted with chef George Mendes. "Yeah, but you'll never get there," replied Nieporent. "I know who I'm sitting with. That's the key."
There was a quick laughing exchange between Bourdain and Richman and soon guests were ushered into the dining room where iPads were powered up and the Twitter feeds filled with @'s and hashtags.
The menu prepared by one of Alan Richman's first roasters, "The Ripper," featured striped bass tartare, seared langoustine, wild Alaskan salmon, and a "Black Forest" cremeux, but the true feast consisted of the zingers lobbed at the critic by Boulud, Bruni, Sifton, and of course, Bourdain, all at a perfectly positioned podium in front of the heart of the storm central to the restaurant's signature painting Deep Water No. 1.
The overarching themes? Richman's cheapness, insecurity, and his inability to be wrong. But that was just the beginning. There were the revelations that David Chang doesn't even know what makes David Chang tick (and that he was a golf prodigy as a kid), that Anthony Bourdain was à la Empire Strikes Back, possibly the son of Alan Richman (yes, it got ugly). And Frank Bruni did a Shron Stone parody referring to a supposed quote on the back of Richman's book, "Fork it Over," that some people thought was real — "Sharon Stone sampled David Chang's buns. His pork buns, too. I'd say the others, but a lady doesn't Momofuku and tell" — yes, it was that kind of night.
Watch GQ's pre-roast video of Alan Richman below or visit GQ for clips of some of the roasters "celebrating" the restaurant critic's 25 years.
Arthur Bovino is The Daily Meal's executive editor.