Last week, at Guild Hall's series, "Stirring the Pot," featuring conversations with "culinary celebrities," Geoffrey Zakarian was not expecting to talk politics. Florence Fabricant, New York Times food writer, author of several cookbooks including Park Avenue Pot Luck, a compilation of recipes from friends, and host of this entertaining series--next up Dr. Oz and Lisa Oz, and cronut creator Dominique Ansel-- questioned Zakarian about his recent contretemps with Donald Trump. The chef was asked to open a restaurant at the historic Old Post Office Pavilion in Washington D.C., part of Trump's luxury hotel, and as the story goes, he pulled out when Trump made his unfortunate remarks about Mexicans last month. Rather than talk about this news, Zakarian quipped, his reason to be here was Florence's invitation to make him clam sauce for lunch.
Taken with the proverbial grain of salt, a theme was simmering. At Guild Hall's summer gala, a celebration of the Roy Lichtenstein exhibition, "Between Sea and Sky," an excellent show of rarely seen work including some film, the gala auction included the donation of a home cooked meal chez Fabricant with an array of wines accompanying six courses. Auctioneer Alec Baldwin, appropriately pushy for a good cause, claimed he promised Florence that the lot would go for a certain price. When the bidding did not meet it, he formed a deal with the highest bidder to join in the dinner plan. Truly, the yet unspecified menu with standout wine including a Dom Perignon champagne and a Grand Cru from Alsace (with stinky cheeses) got more buzz than any of the spectacular artwork at auction. Could her cooking be that good?
At Authors Night, Fabricant sat behind a stack of books, Wine with Food, co-authored with Eric Asimov. As I thumbed the pages, I asked her about the auction. Baldwin's bold move amused her. "You must be an amazing cook," I said. Pause. "Yes, I am." I bought the book.
A version of this post also appears on Gossip Central.