About a year ago, a place opened up in SoHo/Nolita called “The Best Chocolate Cake in The World.” A tongue-in-cheek act of hubris, sort of like the novel “Winner of the National Book Award,” foodies were skeptical. Many who went there dismissed it as overrated. Me? I forgot about it. But last week, after having lunch with my friends Leland Scruby (of the French Culinary Institute) and Bao Ong (whose name you may recognize from the the New York Times Diner’s Journal blog) I asked if they wanted to check it out because it was right around the corner from where we were eating (Falai). They gladly assented.
I have a secret to reveal: this year, I was a judge for the James Beard Awards.
Whoah, I just heard your collective gasp through the computer screen. Believe me, I gasped myself when they asked me. It’s a pretty gasp-worthy fact, considering that the James Beard Awards are like the Oscars of the food world. At first, I was shocked, then I was terrified, then I was deeply honored and flattered. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you what category I judged (that’s a major stipulation) but I can tell you about my reward: two tickets to the big blow-out “Chef’s Night Out” party at SD-26.
Hear those distant drums? A great battle is about to begin: the Great Soup Battle of 2010.
As readers may remember, last week I announced a big contest on my blog. Submit your favorite soup recipe–it didn’t have to be original, just a soup recipe that you love–and the best one would win a $450 VitaMix blender. Then 325 of you, that’s right 325 of you, submitted recipes. And little old me had to wade through them to pick the best. It was hard work, not for the faint of heart, but I wound up choosing the three most intriguing; recipes that, for whatever reason, grabbed my attention and made me hungry to try them. Then I invited my friends Diana Fithian (an enthusiastic home cook) and Leland Scruby (who works at the French Culinary Institute) over to help me make them. The three of us, plus Craig, would sample these soups and carefully choose the winner.