Kate Krader
September 21, 2007

I had big plans to spend as much time as possible at the StarChefs.com International Chefs Congress earlier this week. After all, they had gathered some of the world's great chefs for the event, including Joël Robuchon (whom Gault Millau called the Chef of the [Last] Century) and Seiji Yamamoto of Ryugin in Tokyo, who is so creative it's rumored that El Bulli's Ferran Adrià is inspired by him. I didn't get to spend as much time there as I planned, but I did see vegetable-obsessive Andoni Luis Aduriz make the edible potato rocks that he serves at his Mugaritz restaurant in Errenteria, Spain. (And I heard that Wylie Dufresne of wd50 got the unofficial best attendance award at the conference—he certainly got a lot of shout-outs from the visiting chefs on the stage.)

I did see a lot of the chefs (both presenters and attendees) out on the town, though. It was standing room only at the East Village's Momofuku Ssäm Bar on Sunday night. Monday night, most of the crowd packed the after-party at pastry chef Sam Mason's brand-new lounge at Tailor. But Dani Garcia, who's been called the next Adrià and whose Andalucian demo was supposed to be especially good, didn't spend much time there—after eating dinner at Upstairs at Bouley, he had a second meal at Buddakan. (The Spanish chefs love Stephen Starr's other NYC restaurant, Morimoto, too. They're treated like rock stars by the Japanese chefs, who recognize them all from the Japanese food magazines.) But at least a few of the StarChef attendees had Robert’s Steakhouse on their list of places to eat. Though they insisted it was for the steaks (which New York Times restaurant critic Frank Bruni said are some of the best in New York City), I suspect that it's because Robert's is  better known as the Penthouse Executive Club—a.k.a., a strip club.

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