The crowd at last night's annual Food & Wine Pre-Oscar bash at Spago seemed thinner than last year, perhaps due to the lack of glitz surrounding the uncertainty of the Academy Awards this year, perhaps some other reason. But sheer number does not a great party make. Some quick takeaways:
1) Overlord of mega-restaurant group is a good look for Wolfgang Puck. He worked the room, relaxed, trim, happy to be Wolfie.
2) Dave Lieberman really is a nice guy. Just a total 28-year-old guy working on whatever's coming next. We think he'll be the Anderson Cooper of the food scene. Bet on it.
3) Tom Colicchio chipper as ever, happily poses for pics with fans. In town because Craft would've been prepping if the Vanity Fair Oscar party was still a go. Now he gets to go to South Beach. Also notable: He's a Lakers fan, wearing a fadede purple-and-gold T-shirt to prove it.
4) We're not sure how many were invited, but this party was light on local chef faces. We spotted David Myers near the cheese table. Lee Hefter, natch. We heard Suzanne Goin was on vacay. Question: Which chefs does F&W invite to such an event? How many just don't show?
5) The Best Picture nominee-inspired cocktails are not as inspired but definitely more palatable as the ones at the Polo Lounge. Juno blue slushies, anyone?
6) Follow The Knife's advice for getting food at such a cocktail party and you will be rewarded with puffy fried shrimp, mini onion tarts, steak tartare, slices of margherita pizza and bite-size housemade Twinkies. At Spago, it pays to be in the power room, not all the way in, sort of lingering near the hallway where servers pass through to the private rooms and bar. If Lieberman's at your table, he and (very nice, Mozza-server) girlfriend will offer to get you something from the bar.