Chef Zak Pelaccio, of 5 Ninth and Fatty Crab, was playing with some handheld device as I saw him outside New York’s International Culinary Center. That’s the new name for the building that houses the French Culinary Institute. The people in charge there just expanded their territory from 30,000 to 70,000 square feet and added the Italian Culinary Academy. Today they were celebrating the new space with a demonstration by apparently famous chef Massimiliano Alajmo of Michelin-three-star restaurant Le Calandre in Padua.
Zak wasn't the only important chef at the event. I walked into the auditorium and immediately saw Christopher Lee of Gilt, and then Brad Farmerie of Public and Dante Bocuzzi of Aureole.
Marc Vetri from Vetri came up from Philadelphia. He said he had eaten at Le Calandre and wanted to meet the chef.
Fabio Trabocchi from Maestro came up from DC (McLean, Va., actually). Cesare Casella from Maremma was there, but he's dean of the new Italian school, so that's no shock. And Alain Sailhac and André Soltner are affiliated with the school, so their presence was expected. Nils Noren's, too. But it was still nice to see them.
Wylie Dufresne slipped in around the time when the presentation started, or at least that’s when I noticed him.
Writers were there, too, like Rozanne Gold, Malachy Duffy, Mitchell Davis and the inimitable Christine Muhlke.
Regina Schrambling was there, too.
“Late night?” she asked me. I don't know what might have been wrong with how I looked — I had even done extra grooming of my new goatee that morning — and I didn't bother to ask. Instead I just sat between her and food historian Meryle Evans and quietly cracked jokes with Regina as Alajmo gave his spiel.
Tom Colicchio walked in at some point, and when we went upstairs for a food sampling, restaurateur Tony May was talking to the chef. Jacques Pépin wandered in later on.
All for the opening of a cooking school. Impressive.