As I head to what has become a yearly trip to The Big Apple I thought I would reflect on this amazing city and what it has meant to me. I have to say New York is probably my favorite place to be outside of Charleston. I have had so many great times there and have visited more times than I can remember. I always wanted to live there and sometimes regret that I didn’t do it for a year after college. That has no merit now and I am just fortunate to have the life I do that allows me to come on an annual basis. So here are some of the highlights of times I have had in the city and some of my favorite moments:
1. My first trip was in middle school, part of a school trip. It was a fun crew as I recall with a lot of my girls and “the boys” (Travis, Jimmy, Jose, Dubose, etc). We did every imaginable tourist thing we could including visiting Times Square, going by Rockefeller Plaza and screaming for the Today Show audience, climbing the top of the Statue of Liberty (something they no longer allow you to do), and going to the top of the World Trade Center and Empire State Building. The other real memory of that trip was having a bird poop on my head. As a teenager it was mortifying but I remember someone saying it was good luck. And I have had some of that.
2. I really wanted to work for Glamour magazine back in the day. So much so that I applied for an internship twice and got rejected both times. I was determined and decided to write a letter to the editor which actually got published! It was the first time I had ever had anything in a national pub and was beyond myself! Even though I did not get to work for the magazine or even live in the city, I learned a lot about never giving up on a dream.
3. Of course some of my greatest times in New York involve (or should I say revolve) around food. One of my first food focused trips was with Ken Vedrinski. His restaurant Sienna had been selected one of the Best Restaurant by Esquire (and John Mariani) so we went to celebrate. And did we do that. I learned quickly that a trip to New York with a chef did not require one 15 course menu in a day but more like 5 or 6 of them. Seriously we were at a place eating another table full of food and it was 2am. Just when I thought I was really full, came another chef offering food and sorry you cannot turn it down especially when it is from someone like Wylie Dufresne.
4. The James Beard Foundation has also had a big part of my trips. I have helped orchestrate several dinners in the quaint home and antiquated kitchen. One of my favorite dinners was with chefs Michael Kramer, Ken Vedrinski, Frank Lee and Mike Lata to promote the Festival’s launch. The meal was delicious but the best memories were what happened around the trip. Crazy would not appropriately describe it. And if this blog wasn’t so PC I could share more. “what happens in taxi cabs, stays in taxi cabs.”
5. I cannot talk about New York without mentioning shopping. And lots of it. Why there is not an H&M in Charleston baffles me. I would keep them in business for sure. But thank goodness there is not and that is why trips to the big city keep me from getting rich. I spend a load on stuff I cannot get anywhere else and I have a full closet to thank the city for.
6. Lots of trips have now been with my crew at the Festival. One trip to the New York Food + Wine Festival proved to be a great research trip. We picked up some good ideas but most of all we learned that going to events we don’t organize is great networking. We met some amazing chefs that year including Daniel Boulud (God), Andrew Carmellini (Jesus) and Michael White (all the saints combined) to name a few.
7. I am not a celebrity driven person but man when I meet one of the peeps I dig, get the f@%#k out! I have seen lots of them during trips but the best sighting was more than a walk by. After a big night out, I just go happened to “stumble upon” Puff Daddy (his name at the time) as he was taping a video in the middle of Times Square. No I did not have a cameo in it, but I did get a high five. I was pretty stoked and have not washed that hand since.
8. Staff trophies, enough said.
9. Since I plan events for a living, I will share my favorite event of the city. Not just because I love and admire Danny Meyer for all that he touches, but the Big Apple BBQ is pretty off the charts fun. I love the location in the park, the pit masters are smokin and the whole scene is just right. I have been several times and have really dreamed of having it part of our event. If you are in town in early June mark it down to go and eat some good grub.
10. Going to see the Jets drunk was not a good idea. First I cheered for the Jaguars the entire time (even though they were not playing them), almost got beat up by some male fans, and then passed out before the second half. Not my best sports moment. And pretty sure I am banned from the stadium.
Again as I head to the city, I am sure there will be another place I go, shop or dine at that will be worthy of a plug but for now here’s to my second favorite city!