Have you ever met anyone who for whatever reason just doesn’t like you? There’s a producer for one of the national early morning news shows like that. At least I think she doesn’t like me. I always sense when she glances at me that she’s feeling a combination of boredom and disgust. It’s unsettling.
And I was already unsettled today. I thought I put on a suit this morning until I looked down during my subway ride and realized that my jacket didn’t match my trousers.
I have no excuse. I mean, I was at dinner last night with publicists at Pera, but it wasn’t such a late night that I shouldn’t have been able to see in the morning.
Believe it or not, business attire is required at the offices of Lebhar-Friedman, Nation’s Restaurant News’ parent company, but not between Memorial Day and Labor Day, when business casual is permitted.
At any time of year it’s okay not to wear a suit — trousers and a sportcoat are fine — and wearing a suit jacket instead of a sportcoat is really just a minor faux pas in this modern era, as long as you look like you did it on purpose.
But I was wearing two different patterns of dark pinstripe. I looked like an idiot.
And I was having lunch at Daniel, which is why I tried to wear a suit in the first place.
I don’t know if Daniel actually enforces a jackets-for-gentelmen dress code, and at any rate I’m pretty sure they’d let me slide at a press luncheon in the private dining room, which is where I was eating. But it seems wrong to walk into Daniel without wearing a jacket.
Then again, it also seems wrong — indeed it is wrong — to go to a press function looking like an idiot.
I didn’t see that I had much of a choice, though; I don’t have an off-the-rack-shaped body. So I went to Daniel in my mismatched suit, resolving to stand in the shadows or shift around confusingly to keep people from noticing that I didn’t match.
Of course no one said anything, but that producer who hates me was there. She didn’t arrive until right before we were being seated, though, so I’m just going to go ahead and assume she didn’t notice.
We were at lunch to enjoy the food of Gavin Kaysen, the young chef — just six years out of culinary school — of El Bizcocho at the Rancho Bernardo Inn in San Diego, who was visiting. Gavin's also one of Food & Wine magazine’s ten "Best New Chefs” this year, so I’ll be seeing him soon in Aspen anyway.
He represented the United States in the most recent Bocuse D’Or competition, which is what most people who follow such things consider to be the most rigorous culinary competition in the world. Gavin spent a year preparing for the competition, as one does, and came in 14th out of 24, which isn’t bad at all, especially, Gavin said, considering what happened during the competition.
Obviously I asked him what he meant, and he told the story of their French assistant, "Kevin,” (Gavin’s eyes narrowed), who inexplicably ate the chicken wings that were to garnish one of Gavin’s plates, something that Gavin didn’t notice until it was time for the plates to go out.
Gavin asked what happened to the wings and Kevin simply said he ate them, with no explanation or expression of concern:
"I ate them."
Here’s what we ate for lunch at Daniel:
Grilled hamachi with mango, fennel purée and ponzu vinaigrette
From Daniel Boulud:
Slow-baked halibut peas à la Française, potato confit, herb beurre blanc
Lamb loin, zucchini flower, eggplant caponata and wild arugula
Berry fruit soups, followed by an assortment of chocolate desserts, which of course were followed by his famous madeleines.