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NEW YORK In Julie & Julia, the Nora Ephron-directed film about American cooking icon Julia Child and New York blogger Julie Powell, food is the centerpiece. (So much so that the movie's chefs and stylists made a significant effort to create edible dishes that looked as mouthwatering as they were described.) It seemed natural then for the premiere on Thursday night to be followed by a feast of a party filled with an abundance of food.
Flooded with foodies—restaurateurs, chefs, restaurant critics, and stars from the Food Network—the late-night event packed the Metropolitan Club with about 1,000 guests, who gorged on cakes, roast chicken, fresh shellfish, and other gourmet grub. To further spice up the menu, Columbia Pictures' Alison Bossert and event producer Chris Benarroch challenged five local chefs to serve their own take on recipes from Child's seminal cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking.
Eager gourmands—Drew Nieporent, Gael Greene, Anthony Bourdain, and Le Cordon Bleu president and C.E.O. André Cointreau among them—crowded into the West Lounge, where stations from chefs Stephen Lewandowski of Tribeca Grill, Michael Romano of Union Square Café, Mary Redding of Mary's Fish Camp, April Bloomfield of the Spotted Pig, and Gina DePalma of Babbo lined the perimeter. Lewandowski served Bourguignon-style braised beef, Redding supplied coquilles St. Jacques a la Parisienne (scallops in a white wine sauce), Romano made roast chicken, Bloomfield crafted nectarine tarte tartin with buttermilk ice cream, and DePalma's contribution was reine de saba, a chocolate and almond cake.
If that wasn't enough to sate guests' appetites, the Metropolitan Club catered several passed hors d'oeuvres, including bruschetta (Child's recipe) and baked scallops on potato crisps with white truffle oil, a raw bar, and mountains of grilled, marinated, and roasted vegetables on buffet tables. The studio even placed bars of Scharffen Berger chocolate throughout the event for attendees to take home.
The venue itself, purposely chosen for its similarity to the French embassy featured in the film, was decked out with elements inspired by Paris. Plates printed with quotes from Child and images of the Eiffel Tower covered flat surfaces; potted palms accompanied groupings of chairs; and floral arrangements sat atop pale gold damask linens. Other tributes to Child included serving the cook's favorite tipple, Noilly Prat vermouth.
Julie & Julia is scheduled to be released in theaters on Friday, August 7.