As a young adult in New York City, fresh out of college and working at Windows on the World, my life was consumed by my interest in food and wine. New York Magazine was in its early years then and I was hooked on Gael Greene and her weekly critique of some fabulous restaurant that I hoped and dreamed that I might be able to dine in some day.
Her palate was particular, and her writing brutal if you didn’t present a meal that was up to the hype. A good review from Ms. Greene was like a gift from God and she put many a restaurant on the map. I had been reading her column as a kid since my parents also subscribed. Now as a young New Yorker, I could actually save up and experience some of her recommendations on my own.
I wanted to be her. What a great job—what a perfect life—wining and dining all the time, experiencing the best of what was out there.
Flash forward to the Aspen Food and Wine Festival 2006. Now I’m a journalist and CEO of Women & Wine, which has just launched but is receiving great buzz. American Express has given me full VIP credentials and I’m waiting on the curb in front of the Hotel Jerome for the jitney to take me to the St. Regis where Wolfgang Puck is giving a cooking demo—and I’m late.
Also late is a woman on the curb who reminds me of someone. She looks a bit like my mother—and I quickly say, “You look so familiar” before I can figure it out.
“I’m Gael Greene,” she responds as we climb into the four-wheeler. She reaches her hand out to touch mine and I am both stunned and delighted to meet her. “I’m Julie Brosterman,” I respond back, “founder of Women & Wine.”
We have a rushed chat and then I lose her in the crowd as we run to make the demo as the doors are closing. Afterwards, we regroup (she seems a bit lost in the large crowd) and I suggest that we meet for breakfast in the hotel so that I can interview her for my radio show on Voiceamerica.com called Women & Wine Radio. No time is determined, but she readily agrees.
I’m in the shower the next morning; the phone keeps ringing. When I finally get out, the message is there—“It’s Gael and I’m finishing my breakfast. Where are you? If you hurry, we can speak for a little while.” Yikes—late for a breakfast with Gael Greene—I start to panic.
No need to worry—she’s not in a hurry, it turns out when I show up at the table and we engage in a long conversation about all kinds of subjects, including her book that she is in Aspen to promote, a memoir that has been getting rave reviews—a sort of kiss and tell for foodies. The result of that conversation was a great radio interview that you can now here on our radio archives at this link. It’s changed a bit over the past few years—I do it solo now—and there are over one hundred hours in archived shows.
I’m writing this blog because Wednesday’s NY Times Dining section mentions her dismissal after forty years at New York. My husband quickly reminds me of that memorable day—and I run to write this to share her spirit with you.
Thank you, Gael. I’m who I am today partly because of you. I will repeat what the show’s theme here—you were the winner of MY TASTEMAKER award in 2006, but you really deserved it every day. Wishing you the best in your future—we’ll miss you at New York and look forward to seeing you again on the food scene.
And with that, I’m wishing everyone a great holiday season.
You can read Gael’s blog here.
PS—Best part was getting an email from Gael after I sent this to her to say how touched she was to know that she had influenced me.
Photo courtesy of Women & Wine