As a confirmed procrastinator, my life’s motto is often better late than never. And so it goes with this post, which I couldn’t quite get around to penning until now.
Two weeks ago, my sister and I put on short cocktail frocks, flashy heels, and purchased tickets to attend the Eat Pray Heal UNICEF fund raiser for Japanese tsunami victims. Not only was it a party for a good cause, but it was being hosted by Top Chef contestants (cheftestants?) from across the seasons. Needless to say, we jumped at the chance to nibble on hors d’ouevres prepared by the likes of Angelo, Hung, and Mikey Isabella.
We pre-gamed with a quick snack at Masala Times. It was Kris’ suggestion and it proved fortuitous, as food proved a little sparse at the event (though the bar flowed freely.)
Masala Times is a ‘cheap and cheerful’ fast food-type Indian restaurant perfectly situated in close proximity to the NYU campus. I enjoyed the cheeky Bollywood-themed decor and the opportunity to order something containing paneer. Life is always better with cheese.
Underneath the naan bread, nestled aside rice and pickled onions (yum!) I promise there was paneer. Coated in a masala spice blend. And it was tasty.
Refreshed and renewed, we arrived at the Bowery Hotel a few minutes late. I assumed we’d breeze right in.
The Bowery event space was chic, with lots of exposed brick, iron chandeliers, and expensive worn furnishings. We sipped on gingery drinks made with VeeV, touted as the world’s first alcoholic spirit made from açai, and engaged in covert maneuvers to locate and munch on the appetizers being passed around.
We also engaged in Top Chef-testant spotting, ogling not only the aforementioned chefs, but also Candice Kumai, Harold Dieterlie, Kevin Sbraga, Ariane, Dave Martin, and… drum roll please…
Top Chef All Stars WINNER, Richard Blais! I swear that’s him. Really. I didn’t have the flash on. He was very sweet and patient – it took Kris a minute to figure out how to use the camera on my phone, and he was very gracious as we gushed about how happy we were that he won this season of All Stars, etc. He’s one of my favorite contestants (besides Carla & Antonia- Hootie!) so it was a treat to speak with him.
Kris and I also bum-rushed Harold Dieterlie, who was graciously uncomfortable as we tag-team told him how much we love his restaurant, Perilla. It went a little something like this:
Kris: “We love Perilla!”
Me: “Oh my God, we TOTALLY love Perilla!”
Kris: “I mean, we REALLY love it!”
Me: “Duck meatballs!! Our Mom LOVES Perilla!”
Kris: “She REALLY loves it!”
At this point, poor Harold graciously extricated himself (possibly fleeing to Perilla) and he ninja-flipped into the night. As a side note, Kris and I could totally interview celebrities on the red carpet with our verbal acrobatics and scintillating commentary, no?
Celebu-chef stalking aside (restraining orders are another way of saying I love you, right?), it was a lovely night, the food was delish, and if you’d like to donate to the cause today is the last day that you can make a donation through Eat Pray Heal. The relief efforts in Japan are still very much underway and rebuilding the communities that have been devastated will take years, so please do contribute if you can.
(And yes, Perilla really is that good. Try the spicy duck meatballs. Or the crispy calamari salad. Or the fiddle head gnudi. If they don’t convert you, I’ll finish them for you.)