South Beach’s Tribute Dinner was an homage to NYC’s seafood temple, Le Bernardin. Mistress of ceremonies Gael Greene did the honors of introducing the power team behind this four-star institution: Eric Ripert and Maguy LeCoze. Daniel Boulud, Laurent Gras and Tony Esnault were among the chefs who took on the intimidating feat of preparing a feast fit for not only one of the world’s top chefs, but also 600 hungry gourmands.
As par for the course at such whopping affairs, the hors d’oeuvres – caviar atop creme fraiche, a very avant-garde lobster sushi and ceviche – trumped the six-course dinner. I was particularly stumped by Daniel Boulud’s duck ballotine, which mirrored a dart board and tasted like nothing at all. There was the now obligatory foie gras ravioli (courtesy of Tony Esnault) and a curiously named dish – “Sorta” of fresh prawns – with a heap of gold leaf piled so high I was tempted to dump it into my purse and hock it post-party.
The food was really besides the point at this celebrity chef-studded gala, highlights of which included Martha Stewart, restaurateur & blogger Jeffrey Chodorow and the very Mistress of Ceremonies herself, the insatiable Gael Greene. But the real party got started after dessert at Pearl in Nikki Beach, a very velvet rope affair where the who’s who of food and wine drank ’til the wee hours of the morning. Of course, Eric Ripert stayed up to celebrate as did Top Chef’s Gail Simmons, Dana Cowin and Daniel Boulud.
Until we eat again,
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