Tuesday, June 4, 2013

June 4, 2013: Breakfast Briefings at Bryant Park with Bobby Flay

Date: June 4, 2013
Event: Breakfast Briefings at Bryant Park with Bobby Flay
Cost: FREE (well, an hour of sleep so I could get to work early so I could take an hour off)
Summary:  Beautiful morning, beautiful weather, free coffee, and Bobby Flay talking about barbecuing.

I was checking my twitter feed last night and lo and behold, Bryant Park (@BryantParkNYC) tweets about the first "Breakfast Briefing" (sponsored by Wall Street Journal) of the year -- a one hour discussion with Bobby Flay, click here to register.  Why, I think I *will* click there to register, thank you!

So, about 14 hours later I find myself at Bryant Park on the most gorgeous of spring/summer mornings.  And soon after that, found myself in this wonderful little outdoor seating area listening to Bobby Flay talk about cooking, his restaurants, Iron Chef, an upcoming book of his, and barbecuing.  All the while enjoying the weather and sipping coffee while the city goes on around us.  Mornings like this is just one of the things I love about NYC.

First, let's talk about Bryant Park and how spectacular it was.  It was rush hour.  The subway I took to get there was packed, the staircase getting out of the subway station was packed.  I got out at Times Square so that was people and cars everywhere.  And then I got to Bryant Park.  And it was a bastion of calm.

Not a cloud in the sky, about 70 degrees, no humidity, blue sky, green grass, people easing their way into the day with some outdoor pleasantness, and the traffic noise just kind of faded away.

I mean, look how gorgeous this is!
Bryant Park sun through trees

Bryant Park sun over lawn

Bryant Park lawn

Bryant Park Fountain

And then there were the people.  Mostly individuals but some pairs, some in suits, some in shorts.  Reading a book or the paper, eating breakfast or sipping coffee, checking email on their phones, some snoozing.  It was... well it was peaceful.

Bryant Park breakfast

Bryant Park reading paper

Bryant Park man in suit

Soon it was time to head over to the Southwest Porch (author's note, I thought that was the *location* of the porch, as in the south west corner.  Turns out it's mostly in the west south west part of the park, and it's *called* the Southwest Porch, sponsored, of course, by Southwest.  And it's a very very nice porch, btw).  Anyway, as I was saying, it was time to head over for the talk.

A few setting-the-scene shots.  Really, it was very pleasant.  Porch furniture, coffee and pastries, very intimate.

Breakfast Briefing sign

Breakfast Briefing Wall St Journal

Breakfast Briefing setup

And then Mr. Flay came out.  As I said to friends, he talks about food like actors talk about acting and artists talk about art and musicians talk about music.  There is so much passion about it, it's such a way of life.  Me, my job, I'm a project manager.  I talk about project management and I'm all "woo spreadsheets and schedules hoo".  Ha.  Anyway, I love listening to people who love what they do so much.  Example, before it got started, the hostess asked three random audience members to come up with three ingredients and Mr. Flay would come up with a dish.  Well, the audience members weren't all that inventive and gave him "chocolate, strawberries, and whipped cream".  What he came up with was chocolate infused buttermilk biscuits with sugar-sprinkled strawberry and blackberry mix and topped by a vanilla bean whipped cream and pinot noir dessert sauce.  Whaaaat?!  Seriously.

Then it was time to start the 30 minute discussion with the hostess from Wall Street Journal.  I can't remember all of it, of course, but I do know that he was engaging and charming and interesting and it was a lot of fun.  Here are some of the highlights
  • Did he really ask for an Easy Bake oven for Christmas when he was 8?  Yes, yes he did ask for an easy bake oven, not because he wanted to bake, but because he didn't believe you could bake a cake with a light bulb.
  • If he found himself on death row (because, as the host posed, 'you're on Iron Chef and it gets out of hand and it doesn't end well for the other guy' or something similar), what would his last meal be.  The answer?  "No question, cheese burger and milkshake."
  • Favorite kind of barbecue?  Texas.  Because he knows his wife is going to watch this interview and she's from Texas.  No, no, he said that jokingly (mostly).  It's because he likes barbecue to be about beef.  And Texas barbecue is about beef.  But it's all good.  It's all different, but it's all good.
  • As for whether he knows pretty much right away if contestants on the next chef (or whatever his TV show is called; sorry I don't know) have what it takes he said basically that he thinks he does but he's never right.  Heh.
  • Next book (and this sounds awesome): no official name yet but it's something like Bobby Cooking At Home and it's going to be photographed by his wife / family because they really just want it to be about what they cook at home.  Pancakes for breakfast in the Hamptons, muscles his picked up at the market on the way home, whatever it might be.  So they didn't want a professional photographer, but just take the pictures as they happen.  He seemed really excited about doing the book. 
  • And finally, over all I came away with the following:  if I want to become a chef / restauranteur: I need three things:  passion, to choose a cuisine and stick with it, and a cast iron pan.  If I just want to be a better cook at home, all I need is a cast iron pan.  ;)
Really, it was a lot of fun.  Here are just a few shots of Mr. Flay.  I like the last one because it looks like he's praying.  Praying at the Church of Food and Flay.  ;)

Bobby Flay Breakfast Briefing

Bobby Flay smiles

Bobby Flay and the angels sang

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