The annual Best New Chefs gala hosted by Food & Wine magazine on April 5 was, as always, a major who's-who of the food world, with star chefs and restaurateurs ranging from Danny Bowien, Wylie Dufresne and Danny Meyer to Top Chef judges Tom Colicchio and Gail Simmons in attendance. Other celebs showed up too, like model Damaris Lewis, actor David Burtka and The Chew host Daphne Oz. The party was more like a thumping club scene than a sober industry event, and not long after the 7pm start time, the room was packed. Someone had to cook for all those people, and one of the handful of chefs chosen for the job was newly minted Top Chef winner Jeremy Ford.
Jeremy's dish? Luscious spring lamb with fresh fava beans and cauliflower. But to make it, Jeremy didn't use a typical cut of lamb like shoulder—opting for lamb's neck instead. As Jeremy explained to The Feast, he chose lamb's neck because "it eats almost like oxtail, all those pockets of meat and all that flavor right on the bone." At the party, the sign in front of the dish described it simply as "spring lamb," so no one was the wiser. Jeremy said, "I think last night people just perceived it as lamb shoulder."
The fresh fava beans in the dish were labor-intensive to prep, but not nearly as much as the garbanzo beans, Jeremy pointed out. "I had two helpers for the garbanzos, and by the end of the night their hands looked like Raisinets." The tasting-size portions, which also included a custardy, light-as-air cauliflower froth, were gobbled up so quickly, quantities didn't last nearly as long as the party did. "They told me to prep for 500, but I made 700 and still ran out," Jeremy added.
In the middle of the loud festivities, Food & Wine publisher Christina Grdovich and newly appointed editor-in-chief Nilou Motamed managed to get guests' attention to announce this year's crop of Best New Chefs from around the U.S. Want to know who they are? Check out the full list of 11 honorees along with fun facts about them at FoodandWine.com.
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