Food & Wine Uses Elegant Courthouse

April 14, 2004, 12:00 AM EDT

Food & Wine hosted its annual Best New Chefs party at the Surrogate's Court building. At the center of the large central bar was an intricate sculpture made of flowers, vegetables and fruit.

Food & Wine's Best New Chefs 2004 party Surrogate's Court building Wednesday, 04.09.04, 6:30 PM onward
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If the lines for the tasting stations at Food & Wine's Best New Chefs 2004 event are any indication of popular taste, shrimp is more popular than poached eggs. While it seemed that the entire party lined up for Oceana chef Cornelius Gallagher's Scottish langoustines roasted in phyllo that the chefs couldn't assemble the dishes quickly enough, WD-50's Wylie Dufresne was warmly greeting and chatting with the comparatively fewer guests who saddled up to his tasting station for poached eggs in parmesan broth.

Produced by Food & Wine senior promotion manager Melissa Lynch and Tinker Boe of Mood Food, the event took over the elegant Surrogate's Court building downtown for an event that was smaller than in previous years. Lynch handled the event's ballooning attendance numbers by requiring guests to RSVP and then sending them tickets that were required for admission. “It's one of those things when you invite somebody, and they call the R.S.V.P. line and say, 'I'm responding for me and 5 guests,'” said Lynch. “A smaller crowd gives it a little more exclusivity. It makes people respect the event a little bit more.”

Popular for film and television shoots but rarely used for events, the grand and elegant Beaux Arts style Surrogate's Court proved an ideal space for the party. The large main room featured a central bar decorated with an intricate sculpture made of flowers, vegetables and fruit. F&W's senior promotion design James Slocum decorated the four tasting stations on the second floor with vibrant orange and green projections that gave the name of each station's chef and restaurant, and Mood Food caterwaiters wore garlands around their heads to match the event's springtime theme. Working with the architectural style of the building, Boe created cocktail tables from Corinthian-style columns topped with gold-leaf tops.

Queer Eye for the Straight Guy food expert Ted Allen—who arrived straight from Bravo's upfront event across town at Crobar—joined editor in chief Dana Cowin and publisher Julie McGowan on the landing of the venue's grand staircase to present the chefs in a quick and efficient ceremony. “I've never seen so many people pay attention and actually watch the whole ceremony,” said Lynch. “That's always our biggest dilemma: Keeping people's attention.”

Suzanne Ito

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