Relais & Chateaux hosted a culinary blowout last night that was not without its star factor (Greta Gerwig!) and its hype. Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Mark Ladner, Michael White, and Daniel Boulud were among those who cooked for a $1,500-a-plate benefit for Citymeals on Wheels. At one point, 45 star chefs from Relais & Châteaux properties worldwide gathered on stage to lift glasses of Pommery and toast New York in the spring.
The chefs were assigned something of a puzzle. All had the same ingredients: asparagus, morels, Maine scallops, lobster, Montauk sea bass, and rack of lamb or veal. Assigned to teams of three, they each cooked for a couple of tables apiece. So Del Posto’s Ladner served his lobster fra diavolo, while Patrick O’Connell, of the Inn at Little Washington, served his with chilled pea soup and mint, and Michael White went with the crowd-pleasing lobster burrata dish from Marea’s menu.
Not that — despite the occasional stresses of cooking on jerry-rigged kitchens on the floor of Gotham Hall — this was much of a challenge. “Twenty people, not difficult,” said Daniel Boulud, who served “sea scallop rosace with hatcho miso on crispy rice and Brussels sprouts fondue,” and delivered it himself to his tables before posting for pictures with Elizabeth Olsen. He spent time chatting up the tourist chefs (“Some new flavors here,” he noted approvingly).
In fact, the visiting chefs were more interested in talking about other people’s food than their own — mainly, where they were going to eat while in New York. “My cooks went to eat at the Dutch,” said O’Connell, breaking away from Virginia groupies to boast that the peas and mint in his dish were from his own garden.
Other chefs had gone to NoMad Monday night, and “the San Francisco contingent went to Monkey Bar,” Gary Danko told us, adding, “I was good; I left early, 1 a.m.” The toque also confessed, hoping that it didn’t get out to his West Coast colleagues, that he “miss[ed] East Coast fish.” Ogle the seafood and the rest of the good times, straight ahead in our slideshow.