Last May, on the evening of the James Beard Awards, we booked a table for dinner in The Modern Dining Room. Just as we were about to leave, we received a phone call from our dear friend u.e. informing us that EMP’s Daniel Humm had been awarded Best Chef New York. We had our dinner at The Modern and then went to EMP for the celebration.
Fast forward to this year. On Monday, May 9th, the 2011 James Beard Awards took place as always at Lincoln Center. Knowing that EMP was a finalist in two categories, Outstanding Restaurant and Angela Pinkerton for Best Pastry Chef, we again made a reservation for dinner in The Modern Dining Room. In doing so, we hoped it would bring our EMP family good luck again — something akin to a baseball player wearing the same unwashed jersey during a hitting streak.
When our captain during the dinner, Louis, first greeted us, we asked if there was any news. He told us that The Modern’s Belinda Chang had won the award for Best Wine Service. Excellent!
Just as we were finishing what was a stunningly delicious meal (Click here to see the photos.), Maitre d’ Jason Hopple stopped by to say hello and gave us the news we’d been waiting for: EMP had won both awards! To celebrate the three accolades, he poured each a glass of Champagne on the house.
We left The Modern and cabbed down to EMP. There were still several tables of diners finishing their meals. But the bar area was already crowded with celebrants, and the disc jockey’s equipment was in the process of being set up.
Angela had come back from Lincoln Center, radiant in a lovely white gown and wearing her award medal. With hugs and kisses, we congratulated her, as well as all the staff members who were either still in uniform or in mufti.
When G.M. Will Guidara, sporting the medal for Outstanding Restaurant, arrived together with Chef Daniel Humm and Wine Director John Regan, the crowd erupted in shouts and cheers of jubilation. More hugs, kisses, handshakes, and congrats all around. A little while later, Danny Meyer arrived to join the celebration.
Drinks flowed, the revolving doors disgorged ever-increasing numbers of people into the restaurant, and the space eventually became packed.
The very attractive female disk jockey spun the first record. The music and words of “We Are the Champions” boomed out.