So it’s three nights to the last day of 2010, and what a year it’s been. Professionally speaking, I published my 12th cookbook Radically Simple (no simple task), wrote numerous articles for Real Food magazine and Bon Appetit; finished the arrangements for the procurement of the Gourmet magazine library and its donation to New York University (in honor of my mother); made a book deal for a close friend, mentored several young women and men in and out, of the industry (one great restaurant cook became a chef for Dean & DeLuca; one young woman working for a food website decided to get her masters in library science instead), continued my responsibilities as culinary consultant to the international consulting group, the Joseph Baum & Michael Whiteman Co., appeared on many national radio programs, and started to blog and tweet! Those are some highlights.
But the real highlights are the personal ones: an overdue trip to Israel to visit a longtime friend who was chief-of-staff to Prime Minister Begin (I met him when I was chef to Mayor Koch in 1978!); continuing my weekly work as a hospice volunteer (having the privilege of spending time with Frank McCourt before he died), going on several spiritual retreats at the Garrison Institute, ushering my 14-year old daughter to a Justin Bieber concert and waiting 7 hours in the parking lot; ushering that same daughter into 9th grade, making several wonderful new friendships (one with a neighbor who was Bruce Springsteen’s manager, who later wrote the definitive book on the Beatles), strengthening old relationships, learning to meditate (I’m a real beginner), having a holiday meal with my son, Jeremy, at Oceana, hanging out with my brother and his wife in Hoboken (and passing big lines for the Cake Boss on the way to his house), cooking for more friends at home, and celebrating my 23rd wedding anniversary with my own personal cake boss, Michael Whiteman.
And then there are the restaurant highlights: going on a triptych of clandestine dining reviews with two of New York’s best critics, having an amazing meal in Israel in a tiny restaurant near the market in Jerusalem called Mahane Yehuda, enjoying weekly breakfasts at L’Express and monthly lunches at Barbounia, exciting meals (or dishes) at Oceana, the Standard Grill, 11 Madison, the Breslin, Roberta’s, Lincoln, Van Daag, Zuma in Miami, and even more exciting meals at friends homes including Anne Kabo (in Margate, New Jersey), the second Thanksgiving at the home of Katherine and Alan Miller (in Bethesda), the third Thanksgiving at the home of Geoffrey and Noa Weill, a Passover extravaganza at the home of Robin Shinder and family, a radically simple, yet delicious dinner at the Omskys, and a marvelous meal at the home of Debbie and Larry Freundlich with the legendary editor Judith Jones as a guest.
But hands-down the restaurant highlight of the year for me is…ABC Kitchen at ABC Home in New York City. Kudos to Jean-Georges’ Vongerichten whose brainchild it was to support a sustainable, green, locavore mission in the most sophisticated way imaginable, and to his awesomely talented executive chef, Dan Kluger. May Dan get all the attention he deserves in 2011. More kudos to Paulette Cole and Amy Chender (CEO and COO of ABC Home) whose vision and passion made it possible to do it.
Best dishes of 2010? Well, that’s a blog for another day.