Craig Stoll will not confirm if he cried on Sunday night in New York while accepting his James Beard Award for Best Chef from the Pacific region. (But let’s just say when I asked him he didn't say no, which we all know—when you’re dealing with men—means yes.) Stoll was up against some serious Bay Area competition too, including David Kinch from Manresa, Doug Keane from Cyrus, Michael Tusk from Quince and David Meyers from Sona in LA.
Speaking to Stoll over the phone yesterday, who was still in New York with his wife and business partner Anne, he was beyond excited about the honor. The parents of six-year-old Lucy (who spent the big night with her grandparents in Brooklyn) made sure they were prepared to party on after the gala. “Anne looked gorgeous. She was wearing a long dress—with flat shoes,” Stoll said. “In prior years she wore heels, so we had to come home early. But this time she made it until 3 am!”
What did you do with your medal?
I walked around Manhattan wearing it last night. [Me and Anne] went to Eleven Madison Park first. There was a big party there. Then to the Rusty Knot, a dive bar started by some people from the Spotted Pig and Momofuku, on the West Side highway. They have great pub grub. I had a pretzel-wrapped hot dog. It was so fucking good. It stayed hot forever. It was so salty, I had to drink more.
Did you give a speech?
I never really believed that we were going to win. We do what we do at Delfina—we’ve never focused on this kind of thing. But it’s lots of fun, an incredible adrenalin rush. Anne made me write a speech anyway. The [second half of the speech] I wrote on the back of the program while I was sitting there.
See any heroes?
Lots of heroes. Joe Bastianich and Mario [Batali]. I think Joe is the coolest—he’s so freaking cool. Thomas Keller high-fived me as I was walking down the aisle.
Where did you eat while you were there?
Fatted Crab. Freaking love that place. Ate at Saam Bar today and we ate at Spotted Pig and we went to Casa Mono. We went to a bar called Employees Only, that was awesome as well.
NYC versus SF?
[With the building codes in SF], there’s not one place that we’ve been to on this entire trip that would be doable in SF because old stairs, small doors.
You were just in Naples, right?
Yeah, this is the longest I’ve ever been away from the restaurant [which has been open for almost 10 years]—15 days.