Planning a surprise party for anyone is hard enough these days—between email, Twitter, and Instagram, there are so many opportunities to let the cat out of the back. But a surprise bash for wd~50’s Wylie Dufresne, featuring an army of the best chefs in the world, is some next level skulduggery.
It all began more than a week ago when a series of bizarre, black-and-white videos featuring log-petting megachefs—Alexa Atala, René Redzepi, David Chang—began making the rounds, causing journalists to scratch their heads about what the hell was going on.
We now now that those log fondlers—all 29 of them—were working in cahoots with an international culinary collective called Gelinaz! to descend upon New York for the surprise dinner of a lifetime. By the sounds of it, they ensconced themselves in secret hideouts around the city for a couple days, working on remixes of classic Dufresne dishes. They then made their into the kitchen at wd~50 and began giving the outside world an inkling of what was going down:
Oh look, there’s Gabrielle Hamilton (Prune), Daniel Patterson (Coi), and Daniel Burns (Luksus).
— Virgilio Martinez (@VirgilioCentral) April 9, 2014
And Danny Bowien (Mission Cantina). And Magnus Nilsson (Fäviken). And Alex Stupak (Empellón). Here’s the big reveal, captured by the Empellón team—it looks like Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Padma Lakshmi were in pole position to greet the guest of honor when he walked in the door: Then, the feasting began—and goddamn, it looked incredible from our Twitter-stalking vantage point. For hors d’oeuvres, there was a wonderfully obscene spread of cold fried chicken, Osetra caviar, and American cheese. Apparently, David Chang rectified any confusion among revelers by explaining how to construct chicken skin-and-caviar tacos. Here are some of the scenes and dishes from the party, captured by attendees like Jordana Rothman, Mitchell Davis (James Beard Foundation), and Christine Muhlke (Bon Appetit):
— Mitchell Davis (@kitchensense) April 9, 2014
We’re excited to hear some more of the behind-the-scenes details about how this all came together—the logistics must have been insane. For an inside look at the party itself, check out Alan Sytsma’s recap over at Grub Street.
UPDATE: Like an answer from the heavens, here’s Sophie Brickman with a “Operation Surprise Wylie” report for the New Yorker. And here’s some better footage of the big moment:
And some food porn, for good measure: