Friday, March 12, 2010

Tastemaking at its Finest

On Thursday evening I had the good fortune to attend my first event at the Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia offices in Manhattan. I had gone to the Good Things Event in 2006 and, of course, was on the show a couple of months ago, but this was my first time at Omnimedia - a place I have longed to see for so long. To my mind, it is a sort of Mecca of creativity and inspiration and fabulous design.

This event was the Tastemakers event, a night to showcase some of the wonderful culinary artisans around the country, all of whom are favourites of Martha Stewart Living editors.

It was a rather gloomy evening in Manhattan but I decided to take a long walk along the pier before heading to the event. I snapped this photograph of the Starrett-Lehigh building from the end of the pier. This building houses Martha's headquarters, where the event was being held. It's such a unique and beautiful building with a long and interesting past. Also at Starrett are the headquarters for Hugo Boss, Tommy Hilfiger, Club Monaco and Assouline.
Inside the offices, on the 9th floor, I was greeted by an enthusiastic group of women who promptly signed in the first arrivals and gave us our name tags. Nicole from the Susan Magrino Agency greeted me warmly and was kind enough to show me around the event. She was so genuinely interested in my long journey as an online 'Martha curator' and was very friendly. She also introduced me to Brooke and Liza, two of the wonderful gals who consistently keep me informed about the products and books at MSLO. They were all so nice and excellent chaperones for this lone Canadian visitor. I appreciated their company so much.

As Nicole and I walked into the event I was wowed by this enormous panel of posters featuring images from the magazine. The long corridor looked so beautiful with image after image of these beautiful still-life vignettes, images I recognized and had fallen in love with over the years.

On and on, the dazzling images unfold until... reach this amazing central space with its caverous ceilings and gorgeous lighting. It is awe-inspiring. Nicole got a kick out of my excitement as I walked into this room! This was our program for the evening with a list of all of the vendors and what they would be serving.

Once inside, I explored the vendors who were in attendance, being showcased for their amazingly tasty products. Above, is a sampling of Fran's chocolates. These are the smoked-salt caramel chocolates. I had two or three of these, they were so addictive! The combination of the salty and sweet, along with the smooth texture of the chocolate and caramel, created something out-of-this-world. So decadent. So delicious.Rachel Mark and Betsy Devine of Salvatore BKLYN served up incredibly delicious handmade ricotta. I had several of these!This is Joshua Applestone of Fleisher's Meats, giving a demonstration on butchery.

Next to Fran's was the table for Mad Mac Authentic French Madeleines and Macarons. Look at the array of colours! On sample were dark chocolate, white chocolate, raspberry,apricot, lemon and pistachio macarons. They were utterly delicious!Just look at that macaron mountain! I'd like one of these topiaries on either side of my bed, please.The highlight of the evening for me was meeting Hannah Millman, who is the chief editorial director for crafts at MSLO. She is the genius behind so many of those amazing crafts we see in the magazine, not to mention so many of the craft products we see at Michael's. It was fascinating talking to Hannah, who is so very passionate about what she does. She says that people ought to really be mindful of their childhood passions because they chart a map in many ways for the career paths we choose. Hannah certainly listened to her inner child and now makes extraordinary creations by doing things "the wrong way" (ie: the unconventional way!) and getting wonderful results, again and again. She also told me, in great detail, about the wonderful time she had helping with the Blair House designs at Christmas, which she was very involved in. I was truly honoured to meet her and have a conversation with her, not to mention humbled that she knew of Martha Moments. She thanked me for being such a strong supporter of the brand for so many years.

Martha made an appearance too! Here she poses with the team from Fleisher's, Chef Eric Ripert and Lucinda Scala-Quinn. Martha spoke with me briefly (I was flattered that she remembered me!) and gave me some personal feedback about Martha Moments, which I was grateful for.

Also attending the event were Fritz Karch, the collecting editor, Sarah Carey and Anna Last of Everyday Food, decorating editorial director Kevin Sharkey, Chairman Charles Koppelman, Creative Director James Dunlinson and Chief Creative Officer Gael Towey. I did not get to speak with everyone since it was quite crowded and everyone was very occupied, but it was nice to see these people I admire in person, all in one big, beautiful room.
By the end of the evening, I had quite a sample of business cards and brochures. Also, notice my cute little name tag, bottom right.

At the end of the evening all of the guests received Martha Stewart gift bags, which contained the new Everyday Food cookbook, the new issues of Everyday Food and Martha Stewart Living magazines, samples of Fran's chocolates, McClure's Bloody Mary Mix in a beautiful jar, a gorgeous clementine from Churchill Orchard and some biscotti from Sullivan Street Bakery. Yum!

Here is a list of all of the evening's tastemakers:

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