Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Dish on Jean-Robert (And Everyone Else)

I know when Cincinnati's favorite chef is opening his next beloved restaurant.

Kind of.

And that's what we call a tease in television news. Stick with the rest of the story, folks, and I promise you'll get a decent payoff.

I was lucky enough to snag an invite to Freestore Foodbank and the Cincinnati Bengals' Taste of the NFL event at Paul Brown Stadium on Wednesday evening. The invite was all winemedineme's but she was out of town for the fete, and passed on her tickets to The Boyfriend, who was kind enough to let me tag along.

Still with me?

The Boyfriend was on a serious assignment - assessing the food and drink at the legendary fundraiser.

Not wanting to step on toes, I won't talk about the food (though how can I not give a shout out to Summer Genetti and her fabulous chocolate cake with beer brittle and black and tan ice cream?), but I will cover a bit of the "Who's Who" of the evening's scene.

Let's put aside the gawking that comes with a soiree full of beautifully tanned, manicured and surgically altered people.

Let's talk about the movers and shakers who were on the scene.

I spent a good portion of my evening with good friend and up-and-comer P.G. Sittenfeld. I love love love this man, and if I were about five years younger, I would launch a full court press on him. P.G. has a genuine heart and witty personality, and he and I enjoyed trading simultaneous barbs and dish on the local political scene and how Cincinnati's YPers play a part in the city's future.

We discussed two different social players who may someday announce they're running for Cincinnati's City Council... just who? Well, that's a story to trade over cocktails sometime.

Speaking of Council, I saw Jeff Berding walking through the crowd with one of his children. Not a surprise, as he works in the Bengals' front office. Jeff is a lovely guy, and though I am not a fan of his crusade against panhandling, I am pleased with his support of the streetcar and other efforts to support Cincinnati's business endeavors. Let's hope Council stays the course on these two important fronts.

My old professional stomping grounds, Local 12, had a healthy contingency of personalities present - sports director Brad Johansen served as emcee at the event, and reporter Jeff Hirsh and sports executive producer Kevin Barnett were in attendance, chatting with local newsmakers and the Cincinnati Bengals. It's fun to watch the people who report the news rub shoulders with the people who make the news.

P.G. and I spent some time chatting with the always lovely Lisa Maly and Joel Stone. Lisa is with the Fine Arts Fund; I've noticed this wonderful trend as of late of non-profits and non-profit employees supporting Cincinnati's other causes. I guess we non-profit employees know how hard the work can be. If you find yourself with some free time now and then, I highly suggest you explore ways you can volunteer for one of the many great organizations in town.

Also on the scene, the beautiful Myrita Craig of Freestore Foodbank and gal about town. We traded pleasantries and chatted about this Saturday's Opera Ball concert and after-party (beginning at 8 p.m., emceed by none other than American Idol's Ryan Seacrest). Do you have your tickets? This is definitely another occasion to catch up on Who's Who.

Speaking of opera, local culture vultures Beth and Thom Mariner of Express Cincinnati soaked up the scene, I am sure taking notes for a future edition of their sought after publication. I honestly don't know if there are two people who know more about Cincinnati's social scene than Beth and Thom, who are social movers and shakers in their own right.

I briefly saw Julie Raleigh, wife of Channel 9 chief meteorologist Steve Raleigh and daughter of none other than Hamilton Co. sheriff Simon Leis, across the crowd sporting a flashy outfit in the Bengals' orange and black. Julie used to be a Ben-Gal (the team's cheerleaders showed a strong presence, too) and continues to be an avid supporter of the hometown team.

Amy Tobin of Party Source teamed up with Gold Star Chili for the evening, showcasing a bite-sized, chili flavored nacho and a delicious Cincinnati chili-flavored lasagna in a cup. A gentleman in the booth dressed cheese coneys for attendees, but I couldn't force myself to eat another bite - Julie and Terry had warned me about just how much food was available at the event.

The one food vendor who literally inspired me to squeal aloud and jump up and down? None other than Dojo Gelato. Owner Michael Christner always puts a smile on my face, but I was especially bubbly after discovering the Findlay Market favorite was featuring my beloved Porkopolis - a maple flavored gelato blended with candied bacon. Trust me. If you like the combination of sweet and salty, this is your gelato.

I am so glad Michael opted to feature this flavor the first Saturday of every month. You used to have to wait until holidays - and trust me, that was sometimes a trying wait.

Just as I was leaving, I exchanged hugs with dear friend and amazing chef Renee Schuler of Eat Well Celebrations out of Newport. I am lucky to call Renee a true friend, and I am grateful she graced my previous volunteer challenge, the Junior League of Cincinnati's cookbook Cincinnati Seasoned, with her food styling talents.

On to JRdC. I know you all want to know.

Here's what I learned - direct from the horse's mouth.

Jean Robert says he plans on opening his newest restaurant venture, Jean Robert's Table, in four or five weeks. Not wanting to commit to a date, JR says he'll have a date set by the end of next week.

So, we only have a while to wait until we can again enjoy the culinary genius of Cincinnati's favorite, adopted son.

It certainly has been a long time waiting; I know I, for one, am anxious.

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1 comment:

Elizabeth Mariner said...

What a fun event! And yes, the people watching was great and we bumped into some new and old friends too! I won’t repeat the ones you already mentioned...

Thom and Vic Ciepiel of Vito’s Cafe (home of the singing waiters in Fort Thomas) reminisced about the time they were double-cast as Marcello in La Boheme, but unfortunately we were too late to sample his famous onion straws.

Our buddies from Senate, Dan, Lana, and Josh, shared a drink with us between serving up mini Korean Dogs (my favorite) and heading back to the restaurant in OTR for the remainder of the evening.

We met the multi-talented, gracious and handsome Dhani Jones. (Look for lots on DJ in the next issue of Express.)

I have to disagree with you on the Dojo Gelato, though. The perfect combination of sweet and salty was the Seasalt Caramel. Heaven! And you failed to mention that Summer Genetti’s chocolate cake was infused with BEEF JERKY!

Great cuisine is a fine art, right? Perhaps EXP needs a food writer? If only I had the time...

Thanks Myrita and Brian and all of the Freestore staff and volunteers for putting on a fabulous event!

See you at the Opera Concert Gala Saturday night. Do you think Ryan and some of the stars will show up for the after-party? I bought a new dress... :-)