Ten years ago this week I had one of the best assignments of my early writing life. By luck I had a connection to Alain Ducasse at the time he was opening his first restaurant inÂ New York.Â The foodie world was agog; not only because in the year Y2K Chef Ducasse held the record for Michelin stars accorded to a single chef but also because the menu would be a chefs tasting at the then-astronomical price of $160 per person.Â My ability to score a table enabled me to land an assignment to write about it for Time Out New York, itself just a start-up in the city at the time and not yet enough of a coveted outlet to warrant the chef’s attention.
Needless to say, it was divine.Â And while the city and I have gone on to bigger, bolder and more expensive meals in the ensuing decade, you always remember your first, right?Â In fact, it was with a semi-famous actress that I first went to Ducasse, attempting to woo her into appearing in a play I was producing – as thoughÂ our posh surroundings were any indication of what was on offer to her theatrically.Â She politely turned me down, nevertheless we had one of those amazing only-in-NYC evenings that ended with the dining room captain handing her a shopping bag as we left.Â Outside the restaurant she ripped open the bag and removed a large item elegantly wrapped in tissue paper.Â It was a cake, we discovered.Â And soonÂ thereafter it slipped from her hands and fell rolling into the gutter of Central Park South.Â She chased it down, hastily wrapping it back in tissue and returning it to the bag as though nothing had happened.Â Then in her haughtiest imitation of Lauren Bacall, she gave her hair a toss before heading off down the block:Â “Don’t you even think I’m not still going to eat it.”
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