It was a glittering occasion last night in London. Where in the world would you get so many top international chefs deserting their kitchens and gathering together in one place at any one time? Names like Joël Robuchon, Mathias Dahlgren from Sweden, Ignatious Chan of Iggy’s in Singapore, Marcus Wareing, and David Chang of Momofuku Ssäm Bar in New York.
They had all jetted in for the S. Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards (co-sponsored by Restaurant magazine, Acqua Panna, Nespresso, Laurent-Perrier, alliance restaurant insurance and Electrolux, with Action Against Hunger the official charity). The ceremony took place in the Masonic Freemasons Hall, a suitably esoteric setting for the best chefs in the world.
It’s been a few decades since the end of WWII but there are still wars being fought and airmen up in the skies chasing bogies and dropping ordinance. A select group of black men, who had been previously forbidden to participate because of their race, were chosen as part of an “experiment” towards the end of the second world conflict to see if they might be fit to fly. African-American men had flown in air forces in Canada and France but never in the U.S. or for the U.S. Air Force.
“If you want to know more about us,” says George Mills Boyd, “you can watch the 1995 Robert Markowitz movie with Laurence Fishburne and Cuba Gooding Jr., The Tuskegee Airmen. But you should know that Eleanor Roosevelt was flown by the [white] Base Commander, as no [black] cadet would have been allowed to take the President’s wife up.”Alain and André caught up with four of the surviving Tuskegee Airmen, who were on their way to meet the boys in Baghdad for a motivational encounter, during a United Airlines tribute. It was an honor and a pleasure to meet a bunch of alert octogenarians who not only fought the enemy but also quasi-insurmountable racial obstacles on their ascent to build the respectable Fighting 99th Squadron. Some of them still fly to this day.
While some older rock-and-rollers don’t know what to do with themselves when the spotlight moves away, Mick Fleetwood of Fleetwood Mac fame knew what he wanted to do: make wine! We joined the Rock and Roll Hall-of-Famer at Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar in Woodland Hills for some good food (try the lamb chops) paired with the drummer’s own wines. We enjoyed Mick Fleetwood Private Cellar Riesling, Private Cellar Chardonnay and Cabernet with a hearty dinner that featured impeccable service (Thanks, Tina!) But Mick still gets himself out of the cellar and into the studio, as evidenced by his new CD that’s climbing the charts, “Blue Again.” Thanks for the autograph, the wines, and all of your great tunes, Mick!
A birthday celebration last week took me to dinner at The Bazaar by José Andrés. Two pieces of good news came from the kitchen where chef Michael Voltaggio was cooking that evening. First, the meal was as good as the previous ones we’ve had.
The second was the announcement of the opening of restaurant Saam at The Bazaar by José Andréstomorrow, April 9th. Saam is a secluded dining room in The Bazaar, which is also decorated by Philippe Starck. In a very private and stylish atmosphere, José Andrés will offer a fine dining version of 20-plus “tastes” or small courses for $120 per person, or $170 including wine pairings. We are very much looking forward to dining there!