On This Night of…32 Stars!

Some events deserve all the gushing accolades they can garner.

What else could one say about the pantheon of greats that came together to pay tribute to D’Artagnan’s (the fine food purveyor who enabled the great Chefs of New York to bring in items like Foie Gras in the 80’s with which to revolutionize our palates?) 25th anniversary?

Ariane Daguin is a lady of commanding presence, ineffable grace and surpassing hospitality. The evening was a testament to the power of relationships. For the “32 Stars” being referenced is the number of New York Times and Michelin Stars amassed by the chefs who were assembled and who collaborated to produce this quite unique evening.

The concept, was straightforward. Reception at Daniel. Aperitif? As it was D’Artagnan and the theme was an invasion of the Gascons, we started with a Gascony classic: Pousse Rapiere. Normally a combination of Armagnac, Grand Marnier and Champagne, this evening it was Armagnac infused with Oranges, a few cloves, a little sugar and then the champagne! Marvelous!

As we roamed, we experienced gorgeous Duck Samosas from Philippe Combet (One Michelin Star), an amazing Foie Gras and Prune Creme Brulee from One Michelin Star Chef Eric Sampietro and more.

The first two courses of this voluptuous meal were served at Daniel. The first a collaboration between Daniel and Two Michelin Star Chef Jean Marie Gautier of Hotel du Palais, Biarritz. Poached Foie Gras of Duck with Red wine and Fig Chutney, served with a sweet Jurancon. Then Daniel Humm of Eleven Madison Park prepared with Two Star Michelin Chef Jacques Pourcel an amazing Scallop dish with a Truffle vinaigrette.

We then moved into a luxury coach where Armagnac was flowing and arrived at Jean Georges, another 4 New York Star, 3 Michelin Star marvel. Here Jean Georges prepared with Three Star Michelin Chef Michel Bras of Laguiole a quite stunning Pigeon dish, paired beautifully with a 2002 Madiran and a Cahors Malbec 2000.

Across the street to Per Se, where Thomas Keller and Two Michelin Star Chef Helene Darroze prepared Capon two ways…rich, gorgeous, flavorful, with the wine highlight of the evening, Imperials and Magnums of Chateau Lynch Bages 1985.

Finally, back on the bus one more time to arrive at Le Bernardin. Here Michael Laiskonis of Le Bernardin and Thierry Marx (One Michelin Star) from Cordeillan-Bages prepared two luscious desserts, with which a seductive Tokai and Jurancon “Folie de Janvier” shone.

At Le Bernardin our table included Anthony Bourdain, David Rosengarten (Wine Editor, Saveur), Jean Michel Cazes (owner of Lynch Bages) and others. I was interviewed by the New York Times, and at the instigation of Daniel who proclaimed me “un vraimant gourmand”, I was interviewed on French television.

Le Bernardin was buzzing with camaraderie, mutual respect, affection, joy and enthusiasm. Extraordinary cuisine and superb wine had served not as ends unto themselves, but as true conduits. Like the symposium of old, these inducements had expanded awareness, wit and consciousness.

To Ariane and D’artagnan and to the relationships forged with so many friends who have become not only stars, but mini constellations in the culinary world, all happy to come and wish a dear friend and treasured partner well, felicitations and Happy Anniversary!