In the immortal words of Sushi Samba co-founder, Matty Johnson, we were “killing it” at the South Beach Food and Wine Festival this past weekend. Cocktail Hour threw its first event at the Mondrian’s Sunset Lounge, hosted by celebrity chef Todd English and DJ’d by the “Paul Oakenfold of the food world," Zach Chodorow. The party was an incredible success, as was the festival. It was my first time attending this foodie’s wet dream, and I could not have been more impressed. There were events going on day and night, each filled with the most delicious gastronomic treats one could imagine, only to be bettered by an unbelievable variety of wines and liquors. Some of the major events included Burger Bash (with 27 burgers made by big chefs and burger joints), Bubble Q (a champagne event), a massive tribute dinner for Daniel Boulud at the Loews, and Best of the Best, an event featuring specialties from 40 chefs, 60 wineries, and 16 champagne houses. Even better than the food was the incredible array of star chefs and food personalities who came together for the weekend. We personally ran into Daniel Boulud, Rachel Ray, Bobby Flay, Michael Chiarello, Emeril Lagasse, Guy Fieri, Anthony Bourdain, Morimoto, and Scott Conant as well as multiple contestants from Top Chef and too many others to possibly list.
Although you might not expect it, chefs are some of the more extreme partiers out there, and this weekend is the prime party weekend in the culinary world. Just like in other “scenes” chef’s have groupies too. Mind you, chef groupies are not necessarily as svelte as a say football or rock ‘n roll groupies; these groupies are seduced with cabernets Maker’s Mark, foie gras, Sottocenere, and molten chocolate cake. But who’s judging? A little “cushion for the pushin” is always fun.
Last Thursday night, Cocktail Hour attended the Patron Party at the W Hotel, which featured an unlimited supply and variety of Patron Tequilas and cocktails. When the Patron party started to wind down, we, along with the entire party, headed to Wall. As I was walking into the club, I noticed that Bobby Flay and his crew where standing at the door, looking quite perturbed. (I know Bobby and his partner, Lawrence, from my days of working with the Borgata). Once I saw them, my inner monologue told me to assist. With all the respect I could muster, I spoke with the doorman, Laurent, a generally nice Frenchie, “This is Bobby Flay. It is Food & Wine Festival. He is one of the biggest star chefs in the country.” Laurent was on his period that night, and replied in his European drawl, “Who is BOOBY Flaiz? I don’tz cares who he is, he groupz is too bigz!” Feeling strong, and a little inebriated, I fought back. “Bobby Flay you French fuck, not BOOBY Flaiz.” I don’t think Laurent enjoyed that response, and by the time we stopped yelling at each other, a fed-up “BOOBY Flaiz” had already moved on to greener pastures. We should have reported Laurent and Wall for reverse discrimination; had it been Jacques Pepin, Alain Ducasse, Laurent Tourondel or another French chef, the velvet ropes would have parted like the Red Sea. So continues the decades-old debate of everything French vs. American – food, wine, style, Jerry Lewis, Woody Allen, and now chefs. The French may have won this battle, but the war wages on. Top Chef’s next season should include a competition of the French vs. the Americans. Fuck the Eiffel Tower.
Although I am sure he was treated like gold everywhere else, BOOBY was not the only chef who ran into an issue. I have been told by many people about the culinary world’s most exclusive party at the “Two Twelve Access House” – a no-press, VIP after-hours spot, where only the best chefs and biggest VIPs can get in. I picked up on Eater’s story below and thought that you would like a view into the business…
“Focus, please, as we back-of-envelope the operation. The going rate for a house sponsorship, which gets one's product in front of these chefs and other assorted taste makers, ranges from product-only—such as the deal that Tom Collichio likely has for 'wichcraft, which is passing sandwiches—and $40K, the sum a source tells Eater was offered to one potential sponsor (who politely declined). If there are twelve sponsors and even three of them are paying half this amount, Two12's micromini-honcho Scott Feldman is raking in $60,000 before costs this weekend. Now, the house, a real behemoth at 1350 Collins Avenue, goes for $2,700 per night, which ain't cheap. And if dude is getting it for 5 nights, let's says he's spending $15,000, including fees. Let's say, too, that he has another $5K in expenses, which he doesn't. At the low end, he's walking away with $40,000 for a weekend of boozing with his friends; at the high end, he's clearing $150,000. Or, we should say, $150,000 before he doles out appearance fees to all the name chefs, like Tim Love and Guy Fieri, without whom he's got bupkis. And he does pay them, no?”
I did not make it over, but I am told that the “Two Twelve Access House” is quite the scene. Apparently, many chefs of great regard are unable to gain access to this culinary version of Avenue. Personally, I can’t knock the hustle, as Feldman is the agent who makes superstar chefs. As our old friend Gekko says, “What’s worth doing is worth doing for money.” Feldman should be applauded for working hard enough to create his business and getting corporate America to pay for his friends’ and clients’ debaucherous sanctuary of gastronomy.
The Secret of the Satay Sauce
In honor of this week’s Food and Wine Festival, I decided to kick off our feature column, titled “Gentlemen in the Kitchen,” where our resident chef, Spencer Gabriel, will work to decipher famous restaurant dishes. GK will start out by unveiling the secret behind Mr. Chow’s Chicken Satay Sauce. The Chicken Satay is the signature item of Chow’s restaurant empire and its copycat competitor, Phillipe Chow. The dish combines tender sautéed chicken with an unusual red coloring and a sweet and rich peanut sauce. The sauce has been the subject of debate for years, in terms of ingredients, calories, and where all that deliciousness descends from. The restaurants generally limit your access to the sauce, but the rule with food is, when in doubt, look for fat, sugar, and salt. Well, my hunch was right, so just make sure you visit the gym after eating those sumptuous satays. Mr. Chow’s clientele of fashionistas, celebrities, socialites and hip hop stars have been consuming more than their recommended daily allowance of butter, heavy cream, salt, and sugar for decades. Like the great Planet Café and Tasti D-Lite yogurt controversies, the secret of the satay will spread rampantly from the Upper East Side to Los Angeles, London and beyond.
It’s been three days and you are wondering why he didn’t call? Cut down on the Satays.
Mr. Chow’s Satay Sauce
½ of a Shallot, minced
Pint of Chicken Stock
Pint of Heavy Cream
3T Creamy Salted Peanut Butter
Korean Red Pepper Flakes
1) Sweat Shallot in butter until translucent
2) Add ½ a pint of chicken stock and let reduce down about 50%. (The larger the frying pan, the better, due to the larger surface area)
3) Add ½ a pint of Heavy Cream and let that reduce down about 50%, constantly stirring to avoid burning on the bottom and sides
4) Add 3T of Peanut Butter and keep mixing
5) Let the sauce get to a creamy consistency and add Korean Red Pepper Flakes
6) Remove from heat and continue to mix
7) Serve at room temperature
For information on “Gentlemen in the Kitchen,” Spencer Gabriel’s new private chef service, contact Brooke at Deluxe Experiences (firstname.lastname@example.org) or call 917-338-9759. Spencer and his chefs are available for private dinners, as well larger events. Rates are similar to what it would cost for a nice dinner out in Manhattan, which is quite a deal considering Spencer and his team come to you. Wine pairings and travel are additional.
Keep life delicious and see you next time at Cocktail Hour, where more often than not one drink turns into ten and no one knows where and when the night will end.