It was sudden, and it came pretty early in the proceedings: that exact moment when professional collegiality was shelved, the oven mitts were metaphorically thrown down and the carving knives were drawn. Bachelor Chef No. 1 likened Bachelor Chef No. 3's physique to "a heavy-bottomed stockpot." From that point on it was every cuisinier for himself as three of Manhattan's leading chefs vied for the gastronomic affections of Deborah Yates, the dancer and actress (and food buff) who stars in Lincoln Center Theater's musical Contact.
The idea was to follow the format of the old TV show The Dating Game and have three eligible chefs—Michael Romano (Union Square Cafe), Alex Urena (Blue Hill), and Galen Zamarra (Bouley Bakery)—compete for a date with Yates. And so, one recent afternoon at the French Culinary Institute in Manhattan, these three masters agreed to tie on their aprons, conceal themselves behind a screen and present their most seductive dishes.
In turn, Yates agreed to, well, grill them. Between mouthfuls, of course. She didn't know who they were. They knew who she was, though none of them had been to see her Tony Award-winning show at the Vivian Beaumont (too busy, presumably, experimenting with vinaigrettes and pursing their lips over farmers'-market produce to attend the theater).