Well, we’re back in Syracuse. Home, sweet home and happy to be snuggling my little men. But what a great weekend we had!
Following the welcome dinner with the other winners and the Bertolli team on Friday night, we visited with some friends, then settled in at the hotel for a good night’s sleep. We woke refreshed on Saturday morning and began our day with Bacon, Egg, and Cheese bagel sandwiches. If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you probably could have seen that coming. There’s just nothing like a NY bagel sandwich!
Then, we trained our way uptown for a visit to the Museum of Natural History.
After a few hours of wandering the museum, we headed back to the hotel to rest up for the big event of the weekend, the Zac Posen fashion show and Bertolli after-party.
We met the four other winners and their guests in the lobby of our hotel. Everyone looked absolutely smashing. We were picked up by a small fleet of towncars, which shuttled us over to Lincoln Center. Once at Lincoln Center, we were greeted by the chaos known as New York City Fashion Week. Holy Schmoly! For a Fashion Week newbie, navigating the crowds and finding our way to the Zac Posen show was quite a feat.
Once we found our way to the correct location, we stood in a mob/line with the other anxious ticket holders. While we waited, we got to peak at the Bertolli event being set up in the courtyard. I’ve got to say, it’s a pretty exciting experience to watch a catering team preparing a recipe you developed.
The doors finally opened and we made our way through the crowds and past a wall of photographers and videographers, who literally appeared to be stacked one on top of another, to find our seats. While we waited for the show to begin, we watched Carmen Electra, Claire Danes, and America’s Next Top Model judge, Miss J get interviewed at their seats in the front row.
Finally, the lights dimmed, the music rhythmically pounced, and the show began. It was much a faster event than I’d expected, maybe 5-10 minutes long tops. But it was definitely very cool. There’s something very exciting about viewing the culmination of an individual’s hard work, displayed for all to see. Well done, Zac.
Following the show, we found our way over to the beautiful courtyard for the Bertolli after-party, where a crowd had already begun gathering. The party was lovely and planned to perfection, though somewhat of a surreal experience. I had a hard time slowing my nervous heart rate for long enough to relax and enjoy the delectable food and charming company. Being the focus of any attention has always made me a little weak in the knees.
Thankfully, most of the attention was on the slew of attending celebrities who each took a turn in front of the brightly lit army of cameras. We watched from afar as Claire Danes, Michelle Trachtenberg, Rashida Jones (Parks and Recreation), Jillian Jacobs (Community), and others were photographed in front of a large Bertolli banner. To Rashida Jones, who passed in front of me while navigating the crowds, I said, and I quote, Hi, to which she responded, Hi. I know. You’re jealous of how smooth I am with the celebrities.
Kimora Lee drew quite a bit of attention when she entered the party followed by the film crew for her reality show. She certainly makes an entrance. She is stunning! Absolutely stunning. I was told later by one of the Bertolli crew, that Kimora was filmed eating my Braised Lamb Shanks and loving them!
During one part of the evening, the camera light was focused on each of the winners as we were interviewed about our dishes. Talk about being out of my element. I was shaking so badly that I’m lucky I didn’t drop the dish of lamb I was displaying. The videos have been uploaded to the Bertolli Facebook page. (Click here to see the video.) You can also follow the Bertolli Facebook page to see the five winning recipes, which are gradually being shared. One recipe, for Andreann’s Sausage and Kale Four Cheese Rosa Soup has already been posted. I tasted it at the party and it was fantastic. Definitely worth trying. Keep an eye out for my recipe for Braised Lamb Shanks with Mushrooms and Brown-braised Onions which should be coming up soon! Also look for Margee’s Bean, Poultry & Sausage Polenta Au Gratin, Ally’s Walnut Pumpkin Ravioli with Ricotta and Bertolli Vidalia Onion Pasta Sauce, and Gaylenn’s Easy Seafood Quiche, all delicious!!
We also got to meet Rocco Dispirito, the very gracious host of the event. After saying a few words, he invited each of us in front of the army of cameras to pose for a few pictures. To Rocco, I said something to the effect of, Would you, could you, uh, hi, before motioning to my husband holding the camera. Rocco, possessing much better social skills than I, politely responded, I don’t think we’ve met yet, at which point I introduced myself. In retrospect, an introduction definitely would have been the more courteous way for me to begin a conversation. Clearly, social skills are not my best asset. Sorry for my sloppy manners, Rocco.
The party slowly wound down after that. It was definitely an event to remember!
We spent Sunday eating bagels and pizza and visiting with old friends. This morning, a towncar delivered us back to the airport, beginning our short journey home. It was a lovely weekend, to which I owe many thanks to the Bertolli, Unilever, Ogilvy team! You’re all wonderful and it was truly an honor to meet you!
I’ve got a couple jars of Bertolli sauce in my suitcase just begging to be used! New recipes coming up soon…