It was an impossible-to-refuse invitation: Come to Nougatine to eat lunch with a group of French chefs here to run the New York marathon. The team, which was sponsored by the French tripe council (and whose members had all been given shirts featuring the slogan "The Trip for the Tripe"), was clearly taking its preparation for the race with the utmost seriousness. Yesterday's lunch was a multicourse affair, to be followed by a blowout dinner at Daniel. Today the plan is to lunch at Per Se and then dim sum at Chinatown Brasserie for supper. And on Saturday, the chefs plan to carb up for the race by going on a Chinatown eating tour, followed by a big dinner party Saturday night.
A few highlights from the lunch at Nougatine:
One ever-popular topic for the chefs was the comparison of French and American ingredients. American foie gras came up short. "The fat goes out of it too fast," complained Flora Mikula, the celebrated chef behind Paris's Les Saveurs de Flora. "And the butter is... too watery. As for the cream — it's pasteurized. You have to watch out when you bake with it." The other chefs nodded. But were they worried at all about the race, in which the reputation of French organ meats would be on the line? "We need to eat lunch on Saturday," Mikula said. "No, we have to fast!" said another. "No, no, let's eat!" was the decisive reply. It was decided that they would go on a tour of Chinatown. Another bottle of wine was opened. "I expect to have a pretty good time," said Yves Camdeborde of the chic Le Comptoir. But it wasn't clear if he meant during the trip or the marathon.