She's "eccentric." She's a "punk rocker." In one photograph, she's a pin-up girl clutching only a blender to cover herself. And above all, she's the "patron saint of brown rice and organic hashish."
That's what members of the food industry had to say (or in the case of the racy photo, reveal) about Nora Poullion Monday evening for the first inaugural Chef's Roast. This event honored the chef behind Restaurant Nora, a pioneer in the organic food movement.
The big-ticket event (tickets started at $300) drew a big crowd at Union Market's Dock 5. Fans such as former Congressman Dennis Kucinich, chef Spike Mendelsohn and José Andrés were there to support the chef. Others, like Cathal Armstrong, Scott Drewno and Mike Isabella, came there to cook dinner for the crowd. And a few, including Chef Patrick O'Connell of The Inn at Little Washington, were there to do some roasting.
A few of the high-profile advertised roasters didn't end up appearing — Chef Rick Bayless wasn't there, and Carla Hall only appeared in a brief video clip. O'Connell amused the crowd by donning a pope hat and mock-canonizing Pouillon. But most of the industry roasters stuck to reminiscing, sharing kind words about Pouillon and making jokes about topics ranging from pickles to pot. The hired-hand comedians, including Aparna Nancherla and Matty Litwack, drew the most laughs with broad humor about the food world and their own lack of culinary prowess.
Organizers plan to continue The Chef's Roast as a fundraising event for charity benefitting the Chef's Action Network. Future "victims" have not yet been announced.