Photo: Cynthia Grabau
Happy Anniversary, Mr. Chocolate! Jacques Torres, former pastry chef of Le Cirque, last night showcased dazzling desserts at an anniversary bash to celebrate the launch of his chocolate factories in Brooklyn, and then in Manhattan, more than a decade ago.
But the dazzle at Torres's Hudson Street factory wasn't limited to the macaroons, chocolates, and bombolinis with vanilla custard that party people were eating faster than chocolate reaches the boiling point. Some of the stars of the culinary scene were also there to wish Chef Torres well. They even brought their families. Good Morning America's Sara Moulton came with her daughter, and Top Chef's Gail Simmons brought her parents, just in from their home base of Toronto. (Just Desserts judge Dannielle Kyrillos was also there with her husband, J.P. Kyrillos, publisher of Travel +Leisure.)
Jeffrey Steingarten, Vogue food writer and judge on Iron Chef America and The Next Iron Chef, and his wife, did a drive-by on their way to Lotus of Siam, one of the hardest Manhattan tables to snag.
Drew Nieporent (Nobu), who had recently returned from the 12th Annual Gastronomika conference in San Sebastian, Spain, where he ate around with the likes of Ferran Adrià and Daniel Boulud, was asking everyone (in between flashing BlackBerry pics of his trip) if they'd been to his new restaurant, Corton, located in the former Montrachet space. Yes, they had.
And where is the food crowd going for New Year's Eve? Vegas, of course. All the talk was about the Jay-Z and Coldplay shows at the new Cosmopolitan Hotel, where chef José Andrés just opened his China Poblano.
Torres's old boss, Le Cirque's Siro Maccioni, couldn't make it to the party, but son Marco Maccioni represented, even though he'd just had a boating injury while in the Dominican Republic (where the Maccioni's Beach Club at Casa de Campo is located). He was wearing a podiatric boot to prove it.
It was also a gathering of deans from the French Culinary Institute, where Torres is Dean of Pastry Arts: André Soltner, former chef-owner of the four-star Lutèce, and current Dean of Classic Studies, and Alain Sailhac, Executive Vice President and Dean Emeritus (and former chef of Le Cirque).
But why was the NYPD out in force? I asked the crowd of New York's Finest what trouble was brewing at the event: Did one of the guests pull a chocolate heist? Officer Veneirello explained that he had graduated from the CIA, and worked as a cook at Le Cirque under Chef Sottha Khun with Jacques Torres. He said that when he worked at Le Cirque's kitchen he started having trouble with his weight, and decided to join the NYPD (and is in great shape). Could Le Cirque's kitchen be more hazardous than the streets of New York?