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Posts Tagged ‘Jeff Hirsch’

The Media Mob Featuring Bob Barnett and Jack Kliger | Disney’s Fabulous New Foodie

Lunch At MichaelsIf you were to find the appropriate food metaphor for a Wednesdays at Michael’s I’d say it’s a tasty stew served hot with a number of surprise ingredients that can spice things up at a moment’s notice. That’s precisely what happened today when I was joined by passionate foodie and patron saint of farmers everywhere Tessa Edick, founder of FarmOn!, a 501 (c)3 organization, which she launched in 2011 and which was recently featured on Forbes.com. She describes FarmOn! as ”a social responsibility that supports the local food system and funds educational opportunities in agricultural for students pursuing farm-related careers.” In short, Tessa’s mission through FarmOn! is to get the world — or at least all of New York — starting with the Hudson Valley — to recognize the important role farmers (who she calls “starmers” — get it?). My pal, the tireless and terrific Judy Twersky brought us together along with Beyond PR Group’s partner Beth Feldman today and believe me, I learned more about where the food we eat comes from than I could ever hope to tell you in the time allotted to write this column. My head was spinning like never before by the time we said our goodbyes. Trust me, I’ll never buy a container of hard-boiled eggs while driving on the New Jersey Turnpike again.

Tessa Edick and Diane Clehane

Tessa Edick and Diane Clehane

Dynamic Tessa is a one-woman empire who has an exciting new deal with Disney (more on that later), has a new book out in September (ditto) and is sure to be a name you’ll know, if you don’t already, very soon. Born and raised in upstate New York, Tessa told me she was born with a passion for food that was nurtured by her Italian-born mother (her great grandparents owned a dairy farm). Despite growing up in an economically depressed area, she and her siblings were “happy and healthy” due in large part, she says, to the way they ate food purchased from local farmers. But, she explained, as she grew older she wanted a life away from the country and went off in search of ”glamour and success” in the big city. At 27, she returned to her roots and started her own food company, Sauces n’ Love with her ex-husband (she sold the company to him in 2010). Just as Tessa was extolling the many virtues of buying from your local farmer (or, at the very least, knowing where the food you are eating comes from), proprietor Michael McCarty sauntered over to our table. When I introduced him to Tessa and told him about her mission on behalf of the farmers, he told us he was once a duck farmer way back when in 1976 when he had the first foie gras farm in the United States. Small world, no?

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Shirley MacLaine Stops by a Birthday Party for Liz Smith

1003_mockup.gifI knew it was going to be quite the scene at Michael’s today when a little birdie told me that there was going to be a lunch for Liz Smith celebrating the grand dame of gossip’s upcoming birthday at Table One. Suffice to say I wasn’t disappointed. None other than Shirley MacLaine stopped by to say hello to Liz (more on why later), and I got to chat with the legendary actress about her guest-starring stint on Downton Abbey. While the entire restaurant swiveled in our general direction, I jumped up from my seat to ask about her experience on PBS’ smash hit and she couldn’t have been more gracious.

“I loved doing the show,” she told me. “Everyone was so welcoming and great about everything. I was amazed that no matter what the weather — because it rained a lot when we were shooting — they all went on as if the sun was shining. They were wonderfully professional.” Her character, Martha Levinson, appeared in only two episodes but left quite an impact on viewers — particularly when Martha sparred with Violet, the Dowager Countess played by the legendary Maggie Smith. “That was one of my favorite days on the set,” Ms. MacLaine told me of the scene where she and Ms. Smith sat for hours in a church pew waiting for the ill-fated wedding of Lady Edith to begin. “We spent eight hours talking about life, and we never ran out of things to say.” I bet. Before she dashed out the door — she only stayed long enough to say her hellos — I asked whether she’d be returning to the series and she said, “Yes. We start shooting soon. I’m looking forward to it.” So are we.

Liz Smith with her party pals and her armadillo cake

Now, back to Liz’s lunch (described as a “southern confab”), which Hearst’s Deb Shriver put together with scribe Julia Reed and ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong. Deb was putting the finishing touches on the table, which included a bouquet of yellow roses arranged in Joe’s Texas bronzed boot and a specially designed menu (fried chicken, collard greens and corn bread) featuring a photo of Liz at a year old. Liz and Joe have a long friendship that dates back to 1968 when Joe first arrived in New York and met the fellow Texan. They forged an unbreakable bond. “I didn’t know one person when I came here and found out she was raised a block from where my mama grew up in Fort Worth. She was the only person I met who I thought didn’t talk with an accent.” The two have been great pals ever since.

Shirley MacLaine stops by Michael’s

Southern belle Deb, who has written two fabulous books on New Orleans including the gorgeous Stealing Magnolias: Tales from a New Orleans Courtyard, surprised Liz with one of the most unusual birthday cakes ever served at Michael’s or anywhere else for that matter, and had a Brooklyn baker recreate the Steel Magnolias armadillo red velvet cake. Ms. MacLaine, as you might recall, was one of the stars of the 1989 film, and she arrived with the film’s screenwriter Robert Harling to jazz up the festivities. They departed before Michael’s staff paraded through the dining room with the life-size armadillo on a platter, raising  more than a few eyebrows. Clearly thrilled by the gesture, Liz was served the head of the baked beast while the rest of the guests dug into the ‘carcass.’ Mmm… yummy.

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A Party For Kate White and A Madoff Sighting

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It’s the rare Wednesday when I don’t leave Michael’s with a fistful of business cards from some striver or media maven intent on making an impression. That’s why it’s so newsworthy when the exact opposite occurs. Today was the rare occasion when a famous — make that infamous — name did everything he could not to be noticed. Andrew Madoff arrived with a woman named Catherine Hooper (Andrew’s fiancee) and a little girl in tow, having made their reservation online under Catherine’s name just minutes before. The threesome took a seat in the lounge to wait for their table a few minutes before noon with a handful of people who were oblivious to his presence. Andrew did his best to avoid eye contact with the people around him and said nothing while waiting for his table.

I spotted him through the window when I got to the front door and decided I would ask him what he thought of Stephanie Madoff Mack‘s media tour for her book, which happened to coincide with the publication of the book Laurie Sandell wrote with his cooperation and the participation of his mother, Ruth Madoff. Unfortunately, as soon as he realized I knew who he was, he was off like a shot and I’d missed my moment. If you don’t want to be noticed, why come to the media mecca on a Wednesday? Just asking.

Table 1 was the center of the action today where Linda Fairstein was hosting a lunch for good pal Kate White to celebrate the publication of Kate’s latest novel, So Pretty It Hurts, a Bailey Weggins mystery. I was thrilled to be among the table of fun, fearless power gals. The lively group, which included actress Stephanie March, Dr. Holly Phillips, Women’s Health editor Michele Promaulayko,  photographer Peggy Vance (Mrs. Cyrus Vance to you), Hilary Gumbel (wife of Bryant Gumbel) and Giorgio Armani Beauty’s Kelly Thompson, had plenty to talk about.

Before everyone arrived, I caught up with Kate to ask her about her latest Bailey book (it’s her sixth in the series and eighth novel in all in addition to several business books she’s written). So Pretty It Hurts finds crime writer Bailey at the center of the mystery surrounding the death of supermodel Devon Barr. The story kicks off when the beauty is killed during a weekend in the country at a music mogul’s mansion and the house guests become the suspects. The whodunnit  is in the style of those Agatha Christie page turners where everyone is stuck in the house (this time because of a snowstorm) and left to ponder if there is a killer among them. We’re starting it tonight.

Kate White, Linda Fairstein, Stephanie March. Hilary Gumbel, Dr. Holly Phillips. Michele Promaulayko, Kelly Thompson, Peggy Vance, Diane Clehane
Front row (L-R): Kate White, Linda Fairstein, Stephanie March. Hilary Gumbel. Back row (L-R): Dr. Holly Phillips. Michele Promaulayko, Kelly Thompson, Peggy Vance, Diane Clehane

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