Duckathon? What’s that, you say? One of the best kept secrets in the NYC restaurant and food world! And the best time I’ve had in ages. A party like you’ve never seen before, unless you happen to reside in a village in the southwest of France. From what I’ve googled, festivals of silly events make up a good part of the summertime fun in Gascony. Leave it to the brilliant, charming Ariane Daguin to bring that joie de vivre to these shores. Ariane owns D’Artagnan, a sponsor of Charcutepalooza, and the leading purveyor of all-natural and organic meats (as well as charcuterie, wild mushrooms and truffles!)
I was so thrilled to be invited to the 6th Annual D’Artagnan Duckathlon last weekend. As the invitation said, “It’s a gastronomic obstacle course where teams from top NYC restaurants compete in an action-packed tour of the Meatpacking District’s hottest haunts.” I arrived at Chelsea Markets and the JBF PopUp Space to find a buzz of activity. Red T shirts indentified the D’Artagnan team, all with clear intentions, clipboards, and stickers. This was a party planned with military precision!
As a judge, I was given a very important looking badge. I joined Bob delGrosso, Chef King Phojanakong (Kuma Inn), and Leonard Lopate on the judging panel, as well as fellow bloggers – Mary from The Culinary Librarian and Erika from Life’s Too Short To Skip Dessert – and several others. There was a folder full of information detailing my job as Judge. My favorite part – “You make the rules.”
The Competitors began to arrive. Teams, costumed. Ready to rumble. They had spent weeks – okay, days – practicing. The teams were selected for their mad skills, Duckathlon skills, that is.
Check out the stellar representation – Beacon, db Bistro Moderne, the Bird Brains (some very funny women, food writers, who came to the party armed with an original song, set to La Marseillaise,) Cercle Rouge, Colonie Restaurant, Daniel, Feast & Fetes, Great Performances, Green Grape Provisions, Jacques Torres, Le Bernardin, Le Cirque, Northeast Kingdom, Picnic, Restaurant Jean-Louis, Team Annisa and Team Balthazar.
The teams studied their path, made plans, strategized. Posed for the cameras.
How many crepes will the team flip in 2 minutes?
Some neighbors were particularly interested.
At 4:30 we gathered for the judging and awards, and some fantastic fare – terrines, patés, duck breast from D’Artagnan, and cheeses and breads from Bobolink. Champagne, wine and beer flowed freely and music played.
The awards ceremony was hilarious – every event had a winner, each of the four members received terrific prizes from all the sponsors, and especially from D’Artagnan. Foie gras, sausages, paté, steaks, hams – all their glorious specialties.
And, as expected, the Best Dressed Award went to Cercle Rouge.
The Gold Trophy Duck went to Team Annisa, for the 3rd time in four years. (Silver: Le Bernadin, Bronze: Cercle Rouge.)
The Leonard Lopate Spirit Award was awarded to the Bird Brains.
Merci mille fois, Ariane et D’Artagnan!