The theme of this week was certainly Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs announcement, from early speculation about the recipients to the officially sanctioned parties and other assorted aftermath. For the chefs themselves, though, it’s a weeklong binge of eating, drinking, and venue-hopping. We got to hang with the chefs on Tuesday night when they came together for the first time, then caught up with them at various random moments throughout. To close out our coverage of the event, here’s a recap of the week in the life of a Best New Chef — with help from honorees Naomi Pomeroy of Beast in Portland, Oregon, and Vinny Dotolo of Animal in Los Angeles.
Monday night, BNC den mother and Food & Wine editor Kate Krader took some of the class to, where else, Ssäm Bar.
Naomi: “I arrived in NYC a few days early and stayed with some friends. Met the guys from Animal [Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo] on Monday night with Kate Krader at Ssäm Bar. It was definitely love at first sight — BEAST/ANIMAL … of course it was love. PLUS they are two dudes, and we are two chicks. I definitely see us collaborating on some future dinners.”
Tuesday night started at F&W; editor-in-chief Dana Cowin’s apartment for cocktails and junk food and brought the class together for the first time. Prior to the party, the chefs had to submit their favorite junk food and all of it was served. Animal’s Vinny Dotolo’s fave: Linton’s bread-and-butter pickles. Paul Liebrandt’s: Kettle chips. Dinner at Kefi followed, and included a congratulatory toast from Best New Chef alum Michael Psilakis and Kefi co-owner Donatella Arpaia. Menu items downstairs in the private dining room at Kefi included Psilakis’s fantastic meatballs, as well as lamb stew and whole grilled fish. And bottles of ouzo and shot glasses on every table.
Naomi: “After [Dana Cowin’s dinner at] Kefi, some of us went to Craft and hung with Tom and Co. Then Kate took us to PDT. (And I think we went to Decibel too!) I can’t remember much after that, but I’m pretty sure it involved making jokes about Chris [Kostow, BNC from Meadowood] knowingly stating he would not be up for the shoot (he WAS in fact the last to arrive).” It should be noted that the group pretty much ambushed Tom Colicchio at Tom: Tuesday, but the Don played along. Also in the house was Damon Wise. Chris Kudrow, it would later be revealed to Grub Street, was the last man standing on Tuesday night.
On Wednesday the kids had their official photo shoot, with a call time of 8 a.m., and broke for lunch at Mary’s Fish Camp. Chris Kostowfell asleep on the couch during the afternoon portion of the photo shoot before the group broke to prep for their big party at City Winery and after-parties at Bleecker Heights Tavern, Spotted Pig, Nobu, and elsewhere.
Naomi on the shoot: “The photo shoot was a blast, very fun to be the only girl and just a great, great crew … West Coast gangster rap, courtesy of Nate Appleman, happily replaced the Coldplay that seemed to be constantly looping as we first arrived on set. Pretty much spent the day with everyone making pervy jokes to each other, as chefs often do … “
Thursday, hangover day, most chefs scattered, then started to leave town. Naomi had a date before she left — with a guy she met on the street. Vinny and Jon hit up these other spots while in town: Spotted Pig, Hill Country, RUB, Bouley Bakery, and Corton. Other venues Naomi hit: Ippudo, Angel’s Share, and Frankies Spuntino.