Shareef Malnik, owner of The Forge Restaurant & Wine Bar, kept a diary during his recent trip to New York City, where the iconic Miami Beach restaurant made its debut at the venerable James Beard House. Shareef and Forge Executive Chef Dewey LoSasso, along with Forge Pastry Chef Malka Espinel and The Forge’s “A-Team”, presented a “Fall in the North and South” menu for 80 friends and JBH foodies on Halloween Eve. As decadent as could be expected, the sold-out event was a Machiavellian feast with a Miami-meets-New York edge.
DAY 1: Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Arrive in New York, rainy and in the 70s. So Miami, right? Gabrielle and I go directly to our “hotel” – our good friends JR and Loren Ridinger‘s (Market America) 150-foot yacht, docked at Chelsea Piers. Grab a quick drink at The Standard, then meet up with Chef Dewey, Maxwell and Joe Day in TriBeCa at Locanda Verde (De Niro’s Restaurant in Greenwich Hotel) to go over Saturday’s James Beard House menu, the Joseph Phelps Vineyards wine pairings and Russell Simmons’ special vegan menu. Order copious amounts of food, feeling slightly bilious, (LOL). Back to the boat to relax and contemplate working out in the morning.
DAY 2: Thursday, October 28, 2010
Wake up at 8 a.m., have a full day of meetings with media and our PR team. Check out Eataly for lunch, which is total sensory overload – a culinary complex of all things Italian. Chat with owner Lidia Bastianich. Decide to do gourmet vegetarian at Eataly’s La Verdure. Acorn squash with black lentils; cipollini onions and aged balsamic; stracciatella with roasted tomatoes; and cauliflower and cardoon gratinate with white truffles. Excellent. Dewey is off to the green market at Union Square to see what catches his eye (later returning with massive brussel sprouts still on their stalks). Gabrielle and I head to Broadway to see The Merchant of Venice starring the incredible Al Pacino. Go backstage afterwards to congratulate him, then off to dinner at Spice Market. Order as if this were our last meal, which has become something of a pattern this trip. Favorites: Salmon tartare, shaved tuna with tapioca, lobster with fried butter and spicy vegetable curry with an insane coconut rice.
DAY 3: Friday, October 29, 2010
In full James Beard dinner mode today. Early interview with Chef at Martha Stewart Radio, where we run into Chef Ming Tsai. Grab a fast soy latte at Le Pain Quotidien before heading to the kitchen space at The Standard where Dewey and team will prep for tomorrow’s JBH dinner. Nightmare: The FedEx flight carrying our food delivery was delayed for a full day because of mechanical issues. Our Florida ingredients – calabaza squash blossoms, candied Peruvian corn brittle, Creekstone Farms natural beef filet mignon, line-caught snapper and more – will now all be arriving tomorrow. Which means very little sleep for all of us. Dinner at The Waverly (Our consolation splurge: Lobster Mac n Cheese with white truffles, $125.)
DAY 4: Saturday, October 30, 2010
All our food arrived today, thank G-d, and Dewey has been working like a mad man, albeit a highly skilled one, since 8 a.m. I spent most of the day in the kitchen with the team, going over the menu, seating charts and myriad of details. Home to change, back to the James Beard House at 6 p.m., awaiting our 80 guests who will start to arrive at 7. What a brilliant success the night is. Dewey knocks it out of the water. Gabrielle and I welcome close friends Brett Ratner, Nicole Miller, Charles Koppelman, Russell Simmons, Gianni Russo, Kamal Hotchandani, Gigi Ganatra and others who came to support The Forge Restaurant’s James Beard House debut. After Chef Dewey’s culinary masterpiece, we met up with JR, Loren, Kamal and Eva Longoria at JR and Loren’s apartment for drinks. Glad to have tomorrow off to recup, then it’s back to Miami to prepare for the Make-A-Wish Ball on Saturday and my upcoming Miami Beach High Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Feeling grateful for so much these days.