The only thing missing were the klieg lights for the official grand opening party of Wit & Wisdom, A Tavern by Michael Mina (@witwisdomtavern) and LAMILL Coffee both located in the new Four Seasons hotel (@FSBaltimore). As we drove to the entrance there were close to a dozen valets waiting to take your car. After checking in the Four Season’s general manager, Julien Carralero was introduced to us and welcomed us personally. The restaurant opens officially on Monday, November 14th.
Food, chefs, guests – where does one go first?
I can’t say enough about the look of Wit & Wisdom, warm tones, cushy seating, two fireplaces and chefs with culinary pedigrees that plan to shake things up in Baltimore. Mina (@chefmichaelmina), who has created his own restaurant empire, is in the league of other great restaurateurs the likes of Drew Nieporent and Danny Meyer. Bourbon Steak is his signature steakhouse with the closest being in Washington DC. In fact it was Chef David Varley (@dwvarley), the former executive chef at Bourbon Steak in Washington DC and now corporate chef in the Mina organization that greeted me with a warm smile and a hug. Both Varley and I sat side-by-side judging the Cochon 555 whole heritage hog competition this past spring in Washington DC. Chef Varely won the grand competition the year before at the Aspen Food and Wine Festival.
I spied Restaurant Association of Maryland’s Sales Manager and Style Magazine’s Toast of the Town blogger Celeste Corsaro (@toastofthetown1) who was the plus one with Michael Birchenall (@fotorules), Editor of Food Service Monthly and president of the Restaurant Association of Maryland Education Foundation. Birchenall introduced me to Mark Politzer, general manager of DC’s Bourbon Steak and Chef Benjamin Lambert (@benlambert23) who is top toque at Wit & Wisdom. I chewed off Chef Lambert’s ear chatting about his time at Le Cirque 2000. Nearby was the open kitchen where I thoroughly enjoyed a kale dish along with porchetta sandwiches…the pork was perfectly prepared. The evening was spent tasting, networking, snapping photos and sending them to Facebook and Twitter (@daracooks). (Be sure to check out the photo slide show)
There were no misses on anything I tried from the crabmeat stuffed eggs, Marvesta shrimp and the raw oysters. It looked like they were collecting the oyster shells for recycling. There were numerous passed hors d’ouevres that were generously served. Dessert was being served over in Chef Mina’s 2nd restaurant of three restaurants in the Four Seasons – LAMILL Coffee which offers an array of specialty beverages including espresso, extraction coffee, juices and teas. They will be open daily from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. offering house made pastries and for lunch sandwiches, salads and paninis.
My new culinary crush
I heart Chef Chris Ford (@bttrlovehardwrk), he is the pastry chef for Wit & Wisdom. The cutie patootie was yet another chef who had their ear chewed off by moi talking pastry trials and tribulations. You need to check out his blog as well, amazing photos and insights into being a pastry chef – www.butterloveandhardwork. A surprise tap on the shoulder and it was Chef Patrick “Opie” Crooks (@opie2414) from Roy’s Restaurant not in his chef coat but pretty spruced up and looked quite spiffy. I introduced the Chef Crooks to Chef Ford. I so loved the lemon parfait, the chocolate square with meringue topping and the chocolate lollipops.
Not the usual suspects
A number of guests came from Washington DC, the all knowing food scene maven Nycci Nellis (@nycnell) of The List Are You On It, The Washington Post’s David Hagedorn (@DCHagedorn), and cookbook author and food columnist, Monica Bhide (@monicabhide).
The biggest surprise for me was Philadelphia’s Chef Jennifer Carroll (@chefjencarroll) Top Chef Alumni, a finalist with the Voltaggio brothers. She was my favorite for that season. Formerly of Eric Ripert’s 10 Arts Restaurant, Chef Carroll is looking to open her own restaurant. When I stopped to say hello she recognized me from the Women Chefs and Restaurateurs Facebook page that I admin…that was cool beans! Chef Carroll was with the executive sous chef Marjorie Meek Bradley from Washingon DC Graffiato.
The usual suspects
As we were leaving one of my fave fun gals, Downtown Diane Macklin (@downtowndiane) and her husband Larry arrived. Diane had been an emcee at an earlier event – she was going in the Four Seasons as the hubby and I were leaving. Food pals Chef Bill Crouse of Chefs Expressions and Nathan Stambaugh of Creekstone Farms Black Angus Beef stopped to chat. Woodberry Kitchen’s (@WKRestaurant) Chef Spike Gjerde was enjoying and moving to the tunes with his beautiful wife Amy by his side. Was the song “don’t worry, be happy?”
The always charming, effervescent public relations queen, Edie Brown and I chatted about her work on the Baltimore Grand Prix and Dunkin Donuts. Radio personality Reagan Warfield and his wife Sara Hisamoto Warfield, Nancy Grasmick, freelance food writer and reviewer Lynn Williams, City Peek’s Patti Neuman, Tracy Kwaitkowski and beau Patrick Sutton were mingling and mixing.
Wit & Wisdom, a Tavern by Michael Minna
Four Seasons Hotel
200 International Drive
Baltimore MD 21202
410.223.1467 or call the hotel 410.576.5800
LAMILL Coffee – 410.223.1450
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