Last night I went to an event called The Green Goddesses at the lovely Astor Center. The promise was that members of Les Dames d’Escoffier NY, Women Chefs and Restaurateurs, and the New York Women’s Culinary Alliance would network and celebrate our successes in the food and beverage world. The music was blaring so it was very hard to talk, but I saw some of my favorite colleagues and ate delicious tidbits provided by Mary Cleaver’s catering company.
The room became silent when Martha Stewart, the keynote speaker, was introduced as “the first lady of food.” Although there are numerous other contenders for this title, no one can disagree that Martha Stewart has had an enormous influence on the way Americans garden, cook, and decorate.
By chance last weekend I happened upon Martha’s first book, ENTERTAINING, in my building’s recycle library and was reminded by the cover photo of the fresh-faced, unsophisticated woman who started out twenty-odd years ago as a caterer. Indeed, she spoke of plain beginnings and a father who set each tomato plant into the ground with the head of a bluefish–an example of how she grew up eating homegrown food full of flavor, made even better by a mother who was a great cook.
Last night she spoke of plucking eggs fresh from her own hens, eating her own turkeys on Thanksgiving (plied with vodka before the slaughter), growing everything organically on her various properties, and employing Le Cirque’s chef as her own personal cook when he wanted a break from restaurat kitchens and she got out of jail and was confined to her home. She travels with Nobu to Japan to learn how to slice sushi and is totally behind her daughter’s interest in Farm Forward, an organization Alexis created to reveal the unsustainability of factory farming: www.farmforward.com
Martha gave kudos by name to the staff of her magazines who are responsible for creating over 1,000 original recipes per year–among many other things. She has created an empire and inspired millions. Indeed, she was the quintessential keynote speaker for the Green Goddess event.