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James Beard Awards 2014 Hangover Observations

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Guests arrive at Lincoln Center
Guests arrive at Lincoln Center
Hillary Dixler Canavan is Eater's restaurant editor and the author of the publication's debut book, Eater: 100 Essential Restaurant Recipes From the Authority on Where to Eat and Why It Matters (Abrams, September 2023). Her work focuses on dining trends and the people changing the industry — and scouting the next hot restaurant you need to try on Eater's annual Best New Restaurant list.

[Photos: Daniel Krieger]

Last night the illuminati of the food world descended upon Lincoln Center to pose for pictures and give each others awards at the "Oscars of the food world," the 2014 James Beard Awards. There were a few unusual things about this year's festivities: a new location at the David H. Koch Theater, a yellow carpet, and a banner year for female chefs taking home those prized medals.

Of course, the real fun begins when the award ceremony ends and the chefs, the media, and the hangers-on are let loose into a gala reception and the streets of Manhattan for the afterparty circuit. The major parties of the night were at Jamie Bissonnette and Ken Oringer's Toro, a party at Acme hosted by Momofuku and Major Food Group (Torrisi Italian Specialties, Parm, Carbone), and Eleven Madison Park's party at the Highline Ballroom. There were ice luges, velvet suits, and oh so much more. Go, read.

· Yellow Carpet Trend: Top female chefs not being pushed by PR workers towards the cameras.

· This year the James Beard Foundation moved the ceremony from its typical home at Alice Tully Hall to the David H. Koch Theater, across the plaza at Lincoln Center. (Perhaps they are practicing for another big move?). Anyway, some of the spaces seemed tighter for the change. The yellow red carpet felt shorter and even more crowded with video cameras trying to get face time with whichever chefs were willing to talk. The media room was also quite small, and basically standing room only. On the bright side, at least there were espresso shots, cheese, and Iberico ham. For the second year running, Ed Levine seemed to keep his shoes on the whole time.

· Garrett Oliver (Brooklyn Brewery) did not expect to win for Outstanding Wine, Beer or Spirits Professional. He told Eater: "I hoped to win someday, I just didn't think it would be while I still had hair on my head."

· Restaurant critic, confused:

· Most buzzed-about fashion of the night: Naomi Pomeroy's pant suit; April Bloomfield's white on white ensemble. The bizarre men's fashion trend from last night was velvet blazers, especially in red. Marcus Samuelsson was not the only one wearing such a garment. Call it bell hop chic. Danny Bowien wore shorts. Mario Batali wore all the colors. · Not every food personality was at the awards. Last night was also the annual Met Gala, and Sandra Lee was there in a Cinderella-esque gown.

· After the awards was the annual gala reception. There were veggie burgers, a table of chef photos, and plenty of small bites and congratulating.

· Former Booker & Dax bar manager Tristan Willey says that he's "working on a few things" right now, but mostly just hanging out. Rumor has it he's got a new Manhattan bar in the works.

· At all times during the gala, Questlove was surrounded by people taking selfies. People love this guy.

· The NoMad team is hush-hush about their new next door expansion of the Library, but Brian Canlis is in town to help get that project off the ground.

· As has become something of a tradition, many folks headed to Daniel Boulud's nearby restaurant Boulud Sud to kick off their afterparty celebrations, including the team from the Restaurant at Meadowood.

· Not everyone was ready to party, however. Sir Thomas Keller retreated to Per Se post-awards, and sat with a lady companion in a booth and talked about attending the Momofuku party. He also talked about the newest issue of Finesse and how it's an important one for him.

· Afterparty Trend Alert: Ice luges were a thing. EMP had a pineapple-shaped double luge pouring a cocktail of vodka, sherry, and bitters, while Momofuku had a pig-shaped ice luge pouring something. Where EMP's luge was operated by a bartender and poured drinks into glasses, the Momofuku luge was self-serve and since there were no glasses guests had to improvise and have drinks luged directly to their face. Unclear what the luge was pouring.


[Photo: Raphael Brion/]

· When Jamie Bissonnette arrived at Toro last night, he was greeted by a room of people blowing horns. There was much hugging. Then Ken Oringer arrived and he was also greeted by horns. More hugging.

· Lots of Porron action.

· Toro had the night's best playlist, sticking to throwback hits. Songs that really got the crowd moving: "Ignition (Remix)" by R. Kelly, "Call Me" by Blondie, and "This Is How We Do It" by Montell Jordan.

· Most of the tables were taken out of the large dining room to accommodate the party, making tabletop dancing near impossible. Still, some folks found their way onto elevated surfaces like banquettes.

[Photo: Raphael Brion/]

Momofuku/Major Food Group

· While there didn't seem to be a Momofuku party bus this year, there was a Momofuku afterparty, co-hosted by Major Food Group (Torrisi Italian Specialties, Parm, Carbone). The party was in the downstairs space of Acme, and they hit capacity issues pretty early.

· David Chang spares no expense. Cocktails at the Momofuku afterparty featured LIMES. (Limes were also freely available in a bowl at the Ma Peche media awards afterparty last Friday).

Eleven Madison Park

[Photo: Raphael Brion/]

· As like last year, Eleven Madison Park was not an afterparty destination. Instead, they decided to trash someone else's space and set up shop in the Highline Ballroom. They provided lots of booze, plus soft pretzels.

· Blind item: What big-name chef was making out with his PR person on the couches at the EMP party?

· Daniel Humm arrived looking super casual in a striped t-shirt. Everyone was jealous of his comfy clothes.

· Team Dominique Ansel Bakery took a dance floor booth. It was business as usual for them the following morning, and the pastry chefs apparently had a 3 a.m. call. By now they are probably done serving Cronuts.

Ice luge. [Photo: Hillary Dixler/]

· As the night wound down, things got a little rowdy. An unidentified man was spotted peeing on a neighboring building and then stumbling towards the party. By 1:30am the room was hot and "smelled like farts" one guest observed. Outside, there was also much confusion over who was taking which Uber car. Thank goodness those reservations are sorted by name or else nobody would get home ever.

[Photo: Raphael Brion/]


· Backstage at the Beards 2014 [Saveur]
· James Beard Awards: Bastianich, Batali, Bloomfield [Page Six]
· Dominique Ansel, Nancy Silverton Get Beard Honors [AP]
· New York City Restaurants Slighted in Major Categories at James Beard Awards [NYDN]
· Potluck Video: Batali, Keller, Allen and More Pick Their Movie Doppelgangers [YouTube]
· Reflections on the Beard Awards [NRN]

· Winners: 2014 James Beard Restaurant and Chef Awards [-E-]
· All James Beard Awards Coverage on Eater [-E-]