"When I worked for Wolfgang Puck, I would be cooking on the line and he would stick his finger in all of the food and taste it. I remember being a little shocked and saying to him, “Shouldn’t you be doing that with a different spoon each time?” He would look at me and say, “That’s what makes my food taste so good.”
Someone in PR at TGI Fridays sent me a summary of thrillist very fine list of cool things about the chain. Rare public relations feat of smarts I am rewarding by posting it here:
They Made It Fun To Be Single
Believe it or not, before Fridays, groups of women just didn’t go to bars to meet groups of men. Alan Stillman changed all that in 1965, when he opened the first Fridays at 1152 1st Avenue in New York. His modest goal was to provide a public space for the swinging midtown apartment parties he’d been attending — and “to meet Pan Am stewardesses” — but within weeks the country’s first singles bar had lines down the block, and America never looked back.
They Did It Bigger In Texas
Memphis (the first location outside New York) was wild, but Dallas’ Greenville Ave location was wilder — in Texas Monthly’s 20th anniversary piece, the city’s most famous bachelor, Billy Bob Harris, recalls walking in and thinking, “Oh, Lord Almighty, wow, wow, wow!” The place starred in a 1973 Newsweek cover story on the singles explosion, thanks to insanity like two guys in gorilla suits who’d pull up in an ambulance and rush the crowd (inspiring the “Margorilla” margarita), and Cowboys QB Craig Morton escorting pretty ladies out to his Lincoln Mark III to check out his 8-track player. The ultimate compliment: a Morning News columnist proposed time-capsuling the menu, “to show future generations where all the madness began.”
They Were at The Vanguard of Flair
Fridays “World Bartender Championship” has its roots in 1985 Marina Del Rey. Management, noting the singular bottle-flipping talents of bartender John Mescall, held an in-store competition. Mescall was hesitant (some bartenders viewed his acrobatics as a nuisance), but the idea exploded: the now-massive competition involves 10,000 bartenders from around the world. In 2011, they set the Guinness World Record for “most people cocktail flairing simultaneously for two minutes” when 101 of their bartenders filled London’s Covent Garden Piazza, tossing drink tools to a song prominently featured in Cocktail, “Hippy Hippy Shake”.
Their Superstar Taught Cocktail’s Superstars
The winner of Friday’s first national competition (then called the Bartender Olympics) was John “JB” Bandy. Bandy would go on to train Tom Cruise and Bryan “Coughlin’s Laws” Brown for Cocktail, which used the original Fridays location for filming.
Their Jack Partnership Has Aged Way Better Than Robin Williams Did In Jack
When Fridays and Jack Daniel’s® started up their partnership 17 years ago, Toni Braxton’s “Un-Break My Heart” ruled the airwaves, E.R. dominated TV ratings, and Titanic owned the silver screen. Of the NBA players taken in the 1997 draft, only Tim Duncan and Chauncey Billups remain active — the rest are free to eat all the Jack Daniel’s® Black Angus Sirloin, Ribs, Chicken, Shrimp, and Salmon they want.
They Parted The Iron Curtain
In 1997, Fridays became the first American casual eatery to open in Moscow, taking up residence on the freshly revitalized Tverskaya Street. The ancient thoroughfare had served as the home of Russia’s finest hotels and shops before Stalin renamed it Gorky Street, turned it into “a living classic of socialist realism” (yay!), and basically issued a decree saying that, on Tverskaya, it was never Friday.
Their Sales Figures Are Even More Impressive Than “Millions Of Peaches”
Amazingly, Fridays didn’t only serve potato skins in 2010. To take care of 191,465,640 guests, they also trotted out 27,016,528 burgers (over 10,584,380 pounds worth), 6,249,467 bowls of Broccoli Cheese Soup, 10,843,964 orders of Buffalo Wings, 41,984,881 pounds of fries, 70,952,650 dozen eggs, and enough Chicken Fingers to stretch from Miami to Seattle — or Seattle to Miami if the Chicken Fingers wanted to go clubbing.
Admittedly, I look tired in these photos — but it was after a long weekend of eating and eating and schmoozing in Miami last month where I helped judge a Munchies contest. And maybe I look ok next to @AndrewZimmern? Although not so good next to Jenn Louis, Arthur Bovine, Ingrid Hoffman and Bill Esparza. They still are allowing voting in the broader #TheMunchies awards here: http://www.tablespoon.com/themunchies
Someone named “Jimmy Rigatoni” just followed me on @twitter. Brought to a journalist friend’s mind the idea that since we know of “porn names,” perhaps there ought to be a genre of “food porn names.”
Which got me to thinking of a formula for food porn names: It’s the first name of your next door neighbor on the street you grew up on and the last name of your favorite food.
In my case, it might be “Jessie Moussaka.”
But some days my favorite food is Congee (Chinese rice porridge.) And another neighbor I knew only as Mr. Harris. So in this case: “Mr. Harris Congee.” I can see this character. He could be in an episode of Good Eats. He would be a talking bowl of congee with a pair of pince-nez spectacles floating on top of the preserved egg. “Thank you Mister Harris Congee.”
I also like Cheeseburgers and had a childhood crush on a neighbor girl: Perhaps for some purposes, a character could be: Danielle Cheeseburger. Her head is made of beef, bread and cheese, but underneath, she’s all woman.
Mitchell Matzoball? Paul Creme Brulee?
What is your food porn name? Do you have a better formula for determining it?
Trying to follow @altonbrown, I was denied and received this message: “You have been blocked from following this account at the request of the user”
This may explain why, months ago, my Twitter account was mysteriously taken down (by Twitter) for two days. Alton Brown may have filed some grievance? Although most Food Network stars have been open and gave me interviews for my book, Alton did not, and still has not responded to a new request for an interview. I do not know his reasons.
Alton Brown's team or himself could have claimed a copyright violation of some kind, or a private information violation. All here in Twitter rules:https://support.twitter.com/articles/18311-the-twitter-rules …
I and other reporters called Twitter’s publicity department in November, during the same week as the initial public offering of Twitter stock, asking for an explanation about why my account was removed. Twitter responded in this email:
“Hi Allen. Your account was caught up as a false positive in one of our automated systems. This is a rare occurrence and unlikely to affect your account again.”
In my book and in interviews I extol the brilliance of Good Eats and talk about how the network is not as friendly as it used to be to such groundbreaking television — and I admire the bold chances he took to get that show on the air, and his courage to create a traveling musical Alton road show now. He’s one of the greatest Food Network stars. Which is why it would be interesting to interview him, to understand the brain, and explain how someone whose father took his own life, as Alton’s did, who met Gene Roddenberry as a boy… etc, how it all came together…
Click COMMENTS (not story) link to read Marc and my comments.
This summer, the James Beard Foundation (JBF) will honor James Beard Award–winning chef, restaurateur, cookbook author, and celebrity TV personality Bobby Flay at Chefs & Champagne New York, the Foundation’s annual fundraiser and tasting party in the Hamptons.
Bobby Flay Named Honoree of the James Beard Foundation’s 2014 Chefs & Champagne®
James Beard Award-winning chef and restaurateur, media personality, and author of 12 cookbooks joins iconic rank of recipients at gastronomic summer soirée in Sagaponack
New York, NY (March 12, 2014) - This summer, the James Beard Foundation (JBF) will honor James Beard Award–winning chef, restaurateur, cookbook author, and celebrity TV personality Bobby Flay at Chefs & Champagne® New York, which will be held at the Wölffer Estate Vineyard in Sagaponack, New York. The Foundation’s annual elegant tasting party and fundraiser will take place onSaturday, July 26, 2014, and featureflowing Champagne, thewines of Wölffer Estate Vineyard, Stella Artois® Belgian lager, and culinary offerings from a select group of more than 35 fine chefs, many from JBF Award–winning restaurants.
“Bobby Flay received the James Beard Rising Star Chef of the Year Award at the start of his career back in 1993, and was inducted into the Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America in 2007. We are delighted to be able to recognize him and his ever-growing roster of achievements as our guest of honor at Chefs & Champagne this year,” said Susan Ungaro, president of the James Beard Foundation. “Not only has he starred in over a dozen hit national cooking shows, co-hosted the James Beard Awards, and taught President Obama how to grill on the White House lawn, but the native New Yorker manages to maintain the integrity of each and every one of his projects along the way. Bobby truly is one of the finest chefs of our time, and the Foundation looks forward to celebrating him and his many accomplishments in the Hamptons this July.”
From a culinary career that began as a 17-year-old cook at Joe Allen’s to the opening of his sixth fine dining restaurant, Gato, in New York City’s NoHo district this year, Flay’s exhaustive list of accomplishments is inspirational. In addition to penning 12 cookbooks, since debuting on Food Network in 1994 Flay has continuously hosted programs that educate a national audience on American regional fare. Beginning with the 1996 premiere of his first show, Grillin’ & Chillin’, Flay’s two decades of TV experience include a plethora of Food Network and Cooking Channel programs such asIron Chef America and his new show, Beat Bobby Flay. For over a decade, Flay was the resident chef and lifestyle correspondent for The Early Show on CBS and CBS Sunday Morning. In addition to New York City, his fine dining empire stretches across the country to Caesars Palace, Las Vegas; Mohegan Sun, Connecticut; Atlantis in Paradise Island, Bahamas; and Atlantic City, New Jersey.
“As I’m in the throes of expanding my presence as a chef in Manhattan with the opening of Gato, I can’t imagine a better time to be recognized by the James Beard Foundation,” said Bobby Flay. “I’m thrilled to join the ranks of such gastronomic greats as Julia Child, Daniel Boulud, Thomas Keller, Wolfgang Puck, and Emeril Lagasse as this year’s Chefs & Champagne honoree.”
Chefs & Champagne® New York is considered the East End’s premiere culinary event. Funds raised at the event help support the James Beard Foundation’s wide variety of initiatives, including culinary student scholarships and the organization’s annual food conference on sustainability, public health, and nutrition. A silent auction consisting of fine dining experiences, wines and spirits, cookware, and culinary travel packages will also raise funds for the organization.
With a long tradition of supporting culinary education, the James Beard Foundation will also announce the recipient of the Christian Wölffer Scholarship at the event. Established in 2006, the scholarship fund supports students in their study of food and wine. As of 2013, the James Beard Foundation has awarded more than $4.6 million in financial aid to 1,570 recipients throughout the country.
Chefs & Champagne® New York main event will take place from 6:00 pm to 8:30 pm on Saturday, July 26, and is open to the public—reservations are $200 for James Beard Foundation members and $275 for non members. General admission includes all tastings, silent auction bidding opportunities and gift bag. VIP premium admission, beginning at 5:00 pm, is $375 for James Beard Foundation members and non members. VIP tables of 10 are available for $4,000. The VIP experience includes an additional exclusive reception hour with early access to all tastings, reserved table seating, advanced silent auction preview, gift bag and invitation to the VIP after-party. Reservations can be made by calling (212) 627-2308 or at jamesbeard.org/chefsandchampagne. To become a member of the James Beard Foundation, click here.
About the James Beard Foundation:
Founded in 1986, the James Beard Foundation’s mission is to celebrate, nurture, and honor America’s diverse culinary heritage through programs that educate and inspire. A cookbook author and teacher with an encyclopedic knowledge about food, James Beard, who died in 1985, was a champion of American cuisine. He helped educate and mentor generations of professional chefs and food enthusiasts, instilling in them the value of wholesome, healthful and delicious food. Today the Beard Foundation continues in the same spirit by administering a number of diverse programs that include educational initiatives, food industry awards, scholarships for culinary students, publications, chef advocacy training, and thought-leader convening. The Foundation also maintains the historic James Beard House in New York City’s Greenwich Village as a “performance space” for visiting chefs. In September of 2012, the Foundation launched the Diplomatic Culinary Partnership with the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Protocol and helped create the American Chef Corps as a way to champion American chefs abroad, promote American food products and foster an interest in American culinary culture and history through international programs and initiatives. For more information, please visit www.jamesbeard.org. Find insights on food at the James Beard Foundation’s blog Delights & Prejudices. Join the James Beard Foundation on Facebook. Follow the James Beard Foundation on Twitter and Instagram.