I’ve been to many sponsored dinners and cocktail events that run the gamut of fun and amazing time to something that is decent. Never in recent years of my attending a sponsored dinner, especially on a Friday night, have I been to such a dismal one. One that has no aim, lacks organization, some cronyism, and never have I ever seen so much amateur unprofessionalism from a production manager to a server in the longest time. It’s a waste of everyone’s time unless you want to schmooze with Paper Magazine and a few fashion people – neither which I cared for.
You would presume two fairly large names, especially a huge corporation like American Express and Paper Magazine would promote either or both brands in a positive light in a dinner that is supposed to be filled with “social media stars.” Even American Express held a Twitter contest to pick at most six winners and their guests to this dinner.
When the people (as in publicists, editors and a few managers) of Paper Magazine greeted us Mickey Boardman, the Editorial Director of Paper and our MC of the evening told us that there’s an Instagram contest of whoever Instagrammed the dinner with the correct handles and hashtags, someone could win an American Express a $250 gift card.
Sounded all nice and peachy until when the dinner started a few minutes after 8 PM (the starting time) and by the time you enter, you have nothing to eat for the first 45 minutes. All you have is water to hydrate you or you could calm your nerves but pushing full speed for drunkenness with some passable Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon from The Original Dark Horse winery. Eventually then, you’d see servers walking out with large baskets filled with sliced decent baguettes with slices of salted butter in ramekins which everyone grabbed to eat since we’re hungry.
About an hour in is when you finally start seeing servers passing out large platters of too herbaceous leafy salad that’s supposedly prepared by Leif Hedenal. I ate extra helpings of this fresh salad within 5 minutes because I was ravenous!
As 20 minutes after the salad course was sent out, the servers left our dirty plates behind and removed the salad platters and another 15 minutes is when you finally see another similar platter of salad except there were some root vegetables sprinkled around. The servers indicated that there’s seared sea bass underneath that.
My guest and surrounding table mates looked at each other questioningly served ourselves another hefty helping of greens and finally a piece of seared fish. Even my famished self realized while eating this bass, it wasn’t even fresh. It tasted fishy despite the fact it’s cooked and it’s very underseasoned. My neighbor across from me told me she had undercooked fish. Eek.
While we’re still eating our fish, I did see one of the organizers of the event, a young thin woman decked out in a large wide brimmed fedora, semi-sheer polka dotted blouse, denim shorts and black ankle boots started snapping her fingers repeatedly and frantically to tell the server down my table to stop serving wine. Really, who in their right mind does that anymore? It’s incredibly disrespectful.
And where’s the galette…?
It was about 10:45 PM (mind you, this is 45 minutes passed the ending time of 10 PM), servers finally cleared our plates and set out this laughably pathetic dessert that I Instagrammed (as seen above) of a small dollop of creme fraiche, a handful of fresh blueberries, mint, and possibly macerated blueberry syrup that we waited at least 20 minutes for. And we’re still missing the “Tumblr berry galette”!
One more thing to salt the wounds is when Mr. Boardman finally ended the night by thanking American Express and Chef Leif Hedenal (both with lukewarm applause). The worst thing to find out is that Boardman said the American Express winner is a repeat of last year’s winner who has the Instagram handle of @Bergdorfs since no surprise, they are very good friends since they are in the fashion media industry and obviously have a much larger following since we’re talking about the luxurious department store in Midtown Manhattan.
After that announcement, my friend and I left immediately and headed home since it’s 11 PM, we’re still hungry and we’re exhausted from the torture of waiting.
This dinner was truly a shitshow. If I wanted to eat some fresh salad and a smattering of blueberries, I might as well walk 5 minutes over to Whole Foods on Bowery for a less than $20, prepared and ate everything for under 15 minutes then headed out for a night of fun with a bunch of friends. All this dinner did for me is to give less of a crap about Paper Magazine and their pop-up market.