By 5:45 p.m. on Saturday night this past weekend, lines were already around the block for night two of the second annual Le Grand Fooding event at MOMA PS1. The food event that has been challenging the culinary establishment in France for a decade held its second edition in New York City. Last year's event pitted the skills of New York chefs against their French counterparts, while this year they kept it stateside with a New York vs. San Francisco competition.
With perfect weather for a garden party, crowds gathered under the swaying poles and netting of PS1's young architects installation. Tents around the perimeter housed the cooking stations. Early birds were rewarded (if they were quick) with champagne and easy access to food from a half dozen top chefs from the east and west coasts. As the evening progressed, lines quickly snaked across the lawn requiring increasingly creative strategies to procure food and drink. Wilier groups would send out runners to refill glasses and pick up snacks from less popular stations.
But onto the food..
Meat dishes were unapologetically the name of the game—San Francisco-hailing Daniel Patterson (of Coi) was the only chef to produce a vegetarian plate. Other chefs served up robust flavors of pork, beef, octopus, and squab. And though this was ostensibly a competition, there was no balloting and no awards ceremony. The length of each line became the greatest indicator of popularity. Here's a look at some of the contenders.
Mourad Lahlou of Aziza: Lahlou's squab, pleasantly spiced with ras el hanout, a spice blend including cardamom, cumin, clove, and chilies, had a rounded, gamy flavor, and was served with pickled radishes that punctuated the meats earthy flavor.
Melissa Perello of Frances: Fruit and pork walk hand in had, from a simple chop with applesauce to Perello's classed up suckling pig confit with summer fruit mostarda.
Laurence Jossel of Nopa: Wood-grilled pork ribeye with smoked tomato jam.
New York City
Nate Appleman of Pulino's: Short lines belied the taste of Appleman's beef served on an anchovy crostone with parsley and fried garlic. Though too salty for some, the pungent anchovy flavor nicely cut the fattiness of the beef.
Brian Leth of Vinegar Hill: Leth served octopus with cauliflower, charred lemon, yogurt and taggiasca olives. The rich Mediterranean flavors of the lemon and olives stole the show, and left me wanting to rush home and throw a lemon on the barbie.
Dan Barber of Blue Hill: Think Pink! The sweet flavor of beet pervaded all aspects of Barber's dish, from its inclusion in the surprisingly pink pork sausage to the purees on the side.
Did you go to the event? And how would you compare SF and NYC food? Or is that too much of an apples-oranges situation?