The James Beard Awards after-parties presented special challenges which could only be solved by the liberal use of an open bar. The place to go was the Hawaiian Tropic Zone, whose bikini-clad waitresses and go-go dancers, serving at the behest of chef David Burke, provided a welcome dose of vulgarity after the high-class Beard gala. But the truly hot ticket was the Momofuku party bus, which, if David Chang & Co. were to be believed, was a chartered party vehicle where the most intense celebrating would be done. Regretfully, though, it was closed to press. “Sorry, dude,” David Chang told us, dazed and blissful and still unbelieving in the wake of his victory.
At the Zone, Burke held court, taking pictures with Terrance Brennan, various bikini girls, and both at the same time. Unnervingly suave celebrity chef Todd English worked the room with his conversational magic, talking up everyone in a dress. (“Oh, he’s such a perv!” we heard one woman say. “But he’s so handsome!”) English didn’t stay long, though, as the biggest and latest of the after-parties was at his restaurant Olives NY. There, to the pounding sounds of a disco sound system, a crowd made up of Beard attendees and generic party hogs squished against each other. There were pockets of relaxation, though — Jean George pasty chef Johnny Iuzzini, looking dapper in an all-black suit, was at the center of one cluster, martini in hand; Maremma’s Cesare Casella, in a colorful striped shirt and dark jacket with rosemary sprigs in the breast pocket, was at the center of another, trying to recruit people for a third after-party, and, when we refused, giving us a mean boozy noogie; and Ssäm Bar’s towering manager, the six-foot-five Corey Lane, popped around in his usual good spirits. “The bus is real,” he told us. “Why weren’t you there?” That’s the question we’re still asking ourselves.