“People are passionate about seeing Mario Batali share his favorite recipe onstage the way they used to go crazy seeing The Beatles,” says Lee Schrager, producer of both the South Beach and New York Food & Wine Festivals.
The crazed fans are especially prevalent at Schrager’s bacchanalian megafests.
Then, 20 minutes after the restaurant closed, the woman returned, alone.
It was only guys like Jean-Georges [Vongerichten] or [David] Bouley or Rocco Di Spirito who partied with models,” he says.
“Now the field has been opened.” Jonathan Waxman, who was one of the first celebrity chefs in the ’80s and just opened Jams in Midtown’s 1 Hotel, agrees.
“The attention is a thousand times more intense now,” he says.
“Some people get completely crazy.” Celebrated French toque Laurent Tourondel, who just opened L’Amico near Herald Square, tells of a friendly diner he recenly had at the restaurant.
“We drank and had sex in the back of the restaurant! She’s been back a few times, but the boyfriend wrote a nasty review on Yelp.” While some of the big-name chefs in the ’80s and ’90s had crazed fans, Daley says it’s different now.