Vicarious Living

Jody Adams Needed A Cab After El Bulli; Lydia Shire Once Dropped $3200 on Restaurants in A Single Afternoon

Jody Adams seized the moment at El Bulli.
Jody Adams seized the moment at El Bulli. Photo: Rialto

Oh, sigh. This Stuff magazine piece on chefs’ most formative meals fills us with envy, longing, and the desire to make our credit card balances disappear with Ferran Adrià-style magic. Within, we learn about Chris Myers’s wild encounter with Jean-Louis Palladin, Jody Adams’s whirlwind trip to El Bulli, and Lydia Shire’s P. Diddyish trip to Paris. More ahead.

Myers and Michael Schlow indulged in a tasting menu courtesy Palladin that was marred by a strange sommelier: “He had quite possibly the worst sommelier ever, who paired every course with a wine that was abominable - like a syrah with the sea urchin. … I don’t know if he was bombed, I don’t know if his palate was torched, but he was reeking of cigarettes,” Myers recalls. The madcap Palladin, for his part, could have been played by “Dennis Hopper.”

Jody Adams had a more staid experience at El Bulli, which she experienced on a spur-of-the-moment trip with Rialto dinner guests who just happened to ask her to join them for dinner. “There were no cooking smells. It was like a lab. People were manipulating mushrooms in a way I’d never seen before.” Thirty-five heady courses plus wine later, Adams abandoned her car and departed in a cab.

But high-roller Lydia Shire is the one who really makes us want to claw our eyes out with jealousy, discussing that time she and UpStairs on the Square’s Susie Regis fled to Paris:

We had lunch at Tour d’Argent. It was a rainy Saturday; we were sitting in the main restaurant, overlooking the Île Saint-Louis, drinking a Chambolle-Musigny, like a ‘76 - the queen of red wine! Of course we had the pressed duck, their specialty. Each duck is numbered; they give you your number. It’s roasted very rare and bloody; they remove the legs, put them in the oven for the salad, slice off the breast, put it on two plates, and make the sauce to order tableside, with pepper, cream, and butter. They pour that over the bloody duck carcass and press it. That lunch cost us $1700 in the early 1990s. I think it would be a little more than that now. For dinner, we went to L’Ami Louis. We had the giant slab of foie gras, the roast chicken for two, the frites, and Chambertin, the king of red wines. Dinner cost us $1500. In one day, we spent $3200 in food for the two of us. It was the right thing to do.

Excuse us, but we have a moral obligation to warm up our leftovers now.

The Meals That Made Them

Jody Adams Needed A Cab After El Bulli; Lydia Shire Once Dropped $3200 on