hard for me to write just how excited i was when i got the call from dana cowin a month or so ago, telling me i had been chosen as one of this year’s best new chefs. the week before i had been visited by kate krader, who i assumed was in town for more than just a visit with friends. she and i hung out the night after she dined at the goat, and although she had nice things to say about her experience, she made my chances seem quite grim for becoming part of the f&w chef family. this put me into a state of crazy the next day… went in to the goat upset as can be and told my staff i was either going to a movie or hopping on a plane to the keys. either way i wanted to get my mind off things for the day. i wound up on the couch eating takeout from chen’s… not quite as fun as a trip to sunny florida but it was a good mental vacation day. it’s crazy how crazy i get when a goal i have set for myself, no matter how lofty, seems unattainable. but i knew i had to just get back to work, and push myself harder so that i knew i was doing my best, which is all you can ever do.
so a week passed and i was feeling back to normal, well as normal as i ever am. i was in the office typing up some new menu descriptions and in comes a call from dana, telling me i was one of this year’s chefs. i screamed. i got goosebumps. and then i was told i could not tell anyone. which meant that the three girls in the office next to me while i screamed like a crazy person would just have to go on thinking i had had some sort of random outburst. which happens from time to time so the secret was safe. of course, all i wanted to do was run around the restaurant cheering and hugging my employees who make the goat what it is, but i had to keep the excitement to myself. secrets have never been my strong suit but i learned how to keep things to myself when bravo had me sign a contract to keep top chef secrets… lets just say there were a lot of zeros behind the $1 on that contract. enough to make you a great secret keeper.
last week it was finally time to head to nyc and meet the other chefs from this year’s class. kate had told me what a kick ass group of chefs they had found this year and i could not wait to meet them all. turned out to be a fun and eclectic group of guys (i am the only woman this year) from all over the country. st. louis, seattle, LA, brooklyn, nyc, alabama, utah, san francisco…. hard to imagine how food & wine manages to get to every city each year to find the chefs. that’s a lot of eating—which i sould say, sounds like a lot of fun.
the three day trip to nyc was a whirlwind. filming a video for all-clad; having a kick off party at the breslin; thinking i lost my purse at the breslin; deciding that was a sign i should go home and get my 6 hours of beauty sleep before the cover photo shoot the next morning; waking up to a rainy day in nyc on photo shoot day causing my afro to be larger than ever; having the photographer tell me in his british accent that he wants to stick his ‘willy’ in my hair (a fro compliment that i had never received before, but that got us all many good laughs); the same photographer proving he was the perfect fit for a group of chefs since he shouted out more swear words than the total shouted on my season of top chef (hard to do); getting dressed in matching chef coats that still make me want to sing ‘oh when the saints, go marching in…’ when i think about them…. i can see the cover now…. a group of very dapper looking guys with one random fro in the middle. sweet.
after a long morning of chefs becoming models, we all took some much needed nap time then headed to the gala. a great night all around. seeing as this was one of the most important nights of my career thus far, i thought it best to pace myself with the bubbles, enjoy the evening and remember it all for years to come. it worked great. i had a blast. we escaped the craziness of the after party rather quickly so we could all just hang out with each other. and finish the night with irish carbombs. which i kicked serious ass at…. kate has already called for a rematch.
now i am counting down the days until aspen. june can not get here fast enough.
THANK YOU to everyone at food & wine… i am so honored to be one of this year’s chefs. and thank you to all of the other chefs for being fun and awesome… i can’t wait to cook with you in aspen. cheers!