Gourmet's Food Tour Through the Ages

December 12, 2001, 12:00 AM EST

Gourmet's 60th anniversary party Whitney Museum of American Art Monday, 12.10.01, 7 PM to 10 PM
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Gourmet gave guests a gastronomical history lesson at its 60th anniversary party at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Editor in chief Ruth Reichl culled through the mag's archives for recipes representing each decade of its history, and handed them over to caterer Mood Food, who paired the dishes with stations designed to evoke their place in history.

After descending the staircase into the museum's basement space, guests could get mojitos from a 40's-style wooden bar (from Old Wood Bars), while a server in a period-suitable black dress cut pieces of filet de boeuf a la bordelaise. At the 50's station, a server in a bright blue dress--the perfect cheery housewife--offered cream puff pastries and jazzed-up deviled eggs from a cabinet from ABC Carpet & Home. Baked clams, funky vases and a tablecloth with a Day-Glo flower pattern evoked the '60s, and a funky grill set up with a square of sod mimicked casual dining in the '70s. For the 80's: risotto with porcini served next to a crystal chandelier over a pile of Tiffany boxes on gourmet caviar tins. And for the Asian-inspired 90's, crab, mango and mint nori rolls were laid out in a corner with lounge furniture.

The scenarios got a little lost in the crowded space, but they were clever and fun. Mood Food owner Tinker Boe (who did both food and decor) even got a personal thank-you during Reichl's two-minute remarks--not a bad notice, coming from the once-feared former New York Times restaurant critic.

One other cool decor touch: Ultravision hung revolving white rectangles from the ceiling and projected past cover images on them, so each image came in and out of focus as the piece rotated. The hypnotizing motion was considerably more noticeable than a typical cover blow-up.

Produced by Swell Productions, the party (which was originally planned for September 24) brought in the chefs and restaurant people you'd expect to find at such an event (and often do): Daniel Boulud of Daniel, DB and Cafe Boulud (who gets a qualified rave in the December Gourmet); Anthony Bourdain of Brasserie Les Halles; Tom Colicchio of Craft and Gramercy Tavern; Rocco DiSpirito of Union Pacific (who's known to make Reichl swoon); Madhur Jaffrey; Rita Jammet of La Caravelle; Michael Lomonaco; Sirio Maccioni of Le Cirque; Julian Niccolini of the Four Seasons; Drew Nieporent of the Myriad Restaurant Group; Charlie Palmer of Aureole; Alfred Portale of Gotham Bar and Grill; Michael Romano of Union Square Cafe; Marcus Samuelsson of Aquavit; and Andre Soltner. The party also drew celebs including Bryant Gumbel and Olympia Dukakis.

To complement the party's era-mixing quality, DJ Paul Sevigny mixed songs like “Sweet Home Alabama,” “Moon River,” Bruce Springsteen's “Dancing in the Dark,” and Michael Jackson's “Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough” with his usual offbeat '80s favorites.

The simple gift bag marked the charity-minded times: Along with the mag's December issue and a generous 5.75 ounce box of Godiva chocolates, guests got a note saying Gourmet had made a donation to Citymeals-on-Wheels to aid its work delivering meals to homebound elderly New Yorkers.

--Chad Kaydo

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