The James Beard Awards, a night when chefs and media collide at Lincoln Center to hobnob in crowded press rooms then drunkenly spill beer on each other at the after parties–this is the only time of the year you’ll see straight-laced restaurants like Eleven Madison Park and Gramercy Tavern swap ambiance music for thumping Pitbull and Beastie Boys.
But it isn’t all fun and games. There’s networking to be done and awards to hand out. We cornered three of the night’s winners (well, Ted Allen won his award at the broadcasting arm of the ceremony on Friday night) to catch their thoughts and offer felicitations before they headed back to the scrum.
Christina Tosi (Momofuku Milk Bar), Rising Star Chef of the Year: I’m sitting next to Dave [Chang], and we have a very brother-sister rapport, and he’s like, “Do you know what you’re going to say?” But I was like, “No, I’m not going to win.” We’re so ready to party. The whole Momofuku team came ready to party. We got picked up in a party bus around 3 p.m. We had some barbecue before the awards, and then after, we’ll go out and celebrate.
Ted Allen (Food Network’s Chopped), Media Personality/Host; Television Program in Studio or Fixed Location: I like coming to these events! I get to present, which is fun. I got two awards myself, which is amazing. You get to see so many people. You see your friends at these awards, you see people you admire at these awards–people that you don’t get to hang out with very often. It’s just a huge party . . . with Jacques Pepin . . . I would love to do keg-stands with Jacques Pepin. I’ve never done a keg-stand. I should put that on my bucket list.
Jim Meehan (PDT), Outstanding Bar Program: You’re from the Village Voice? Are you excited that three East Village restaurants won the first awards of the evening? It’s so amazing. I’m so thrilled [to win the first-ever Outstanding Bar Program award], I can’t even put it into words . . . It’s my first time at the James Beard Awards, so I really don’t even know what to do. I’m just so excited, I’m a terrible interview right now.