I received a very thoughtful email today from Brandi Evans, a fellow food blogger. Brandi is part of a unique food blog community called FoodBuzz. She and her husband Nick took some time out to attend a benefit dinner I cooked for the James Beard Foundation this last weekend. I had a fabulous time and apparently so did Nick and Brandi. She gave me the highest compliment by taking the time to write about this event that took place at the Palisades Restaurant in Eggleston, VA.
I'm grateful that the James Beard legacy clearly carries on through these benefit dinners. He understood that, "Food is our common ground, a universal experience."
The biggest news to hit the Palm Beach Post last weekend was that Blockbuster was bringing back its late fees. And, while Palm Beach does get its fair share of celebrity gossip headliners and Spring Break mayhem stories, I was happy to spend a somewhat serene weekend there for the Chef to Chef Conference. I had the pleasure of being the key note speaker for a distinct group of chefs from around the nation - they all work for private clubs and hotels.
The climate of private clubs and hotels has changed dramatically. Many banquet chefs are seeing smaller gatherings and cost conscious clientele who opt for pasta, chicken, and house wine menus. With this in mind, I set out to address the chefs with with a strong measure of common sense and hope for the future in a presentation called, "The Next Big Opporutnities for Club Cuisine." It was encouraging to see other presenters catch the same wave. Topics at the conference included, "Innovations in Club Dining", "New Spins on Old Classics", "Buy Vs. Make", and "Revving Up Takeout-Fast Casual Revenues". The Chef to Chef Conference is an exceptional gathering place for chefs to get connected with one another and share inspiration for their work.
The food at the conference was pleasing enough. When you're feeding a large group of trained chefs, you simply make sure the food is fresh and plentiful. Even with this in mind though, I took the opportunity to venture out one morning in search of something really hearty. I found it at an popular restaurant named John G's on the Beach. It wasn't hard to spot, I simply followed the line. John G's serves great breakfast. The "Original Cinnamon-Nut French Toast" is not to be missed. If you are happen to be in South Florida, make sure you make a breakfast date at John G's On the Beach.
During the 14 months that Desiree Rogers held office as the Obama's Social Secretary, she oversaw at least 330 White House events. Most White House staffers have upheld a tradition of carrying a low profile status. However, Ms. Rogers appeared very comfortable being in the limelight. She didn't seem to think twice about sitting in the front row of a haute couture fashion runway show or being the covergirl for Vanity Fair, Vogue, and WSJ magazine. Rogers was once quoted as saying, "We have the best brand on the Earth: the Obama brand......Our possibilities are endless."
I'm quite certain Ms. Rogers had no idea that her tenure at the White House would cease this week when she made that statement last year. Her position came under intense internal scrutiny when the Salahie couple crashed the First Obama State Dinner. Before the Obama administration, the Social Secretary was expected to coordinate operations behind the scenes. Desiree Rogers may not be the first Social Secretary to sit at a state dinner, but she is the first one in memory to overlook the detail seeing guest properly checked into the White House.
When I was hired as Executive Chef at the White House, Ann Stock (former Social Secretary) informed me,"Don't define yourself by how close you stand to the President in pictures, just try to do your best to make the President look good by doing your job perfectly." She's right. I hope the new Social Secetary understands the importance of what Ann conveyed to me. There is a lot to be said of traditional worker bees who are not distracted by immediate personal gain for the sake of helping others achieve success.