Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Le Fabuleux Destin des Diamants de Tavernier, L'Ecole des ArtsJoailliers

Two weeks ago I was invited to a fabulous lecture at l'Ecole des Arts Joailliers on.
Jean-Babtiste Tavernier (1605-1689) diamond merchant to the Sun King, Louis XIV, was obsessed with Oriental culture...i.e. The richly embroidered garments and tapestry turban.
Six arduous trips were made to the Mogul Empire of India and Persia by boat and caravan to bring back the finest diamonds never before seen for Louis XIV. The Hope diamond is the only remaining stone among thousands brought back. These 20 different cuts (all facsimiles above) were exceptional for their beauty and hugely influential to the jewelry industry.
The small select exhibition has been on display through January and closes tomorrow. The school and exhibition sponsors, Van Cleef Arpels know well the creme de la creme of gems.
They offer small, short select indepth classes in the jewelry arts for aficionados.
Even the light fixtures look like a string of diamonds.
Always on display sumptuous models of outstanding necklaces and stones.
We were treated to Champagne, foie gras, smoked salmon.
What to wear to a diamond lecture?
Malheuresement I wore my macaron T-shirt whilst a Sonia Rikiel (HM) diamond-covered sweater was lurking in the back of my closet. Will there be another diamond lecture? I hope so.
The lecture was of course in French
Headphones were provided translating the fascinating tales of fearless Tavernier's adventures gathering stones for king Louis in the East.
He kept a journal that is digitized in the exhibition.
While searching in the depths of my closet I found a Bocuse silk scarf from a Bocuse d'Or competition I'd attended.
I'd planned to go to Lyon but the weather predicted chilly rain. We had sun for once in Paris, so I stayed home and painted umbrellas in front of the Paris Opera instead.
Thank you for reading Paris breakfast. If you enjoyed this newsletter, forward to a friend and Gift yourself and your friends Paris letters, maps and watercolors
Bear and I are keeping dry. So far no waders or life preservers.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

La Fete de la Fleur, Bordeaux 1997

An UPDATE: tomorrow I am attending the Paul Bocuse memorial service in Lyon. More to follow. Sorry for the double posting !!

  • A WINE WATERCOLOR from the huge international wine exposition takes place in Bordeaux
The crowning event at the end of the expo is a grande soiree,
La Fete de la Fleur
Only the creme de la creme in the wine trade attend:
chateau owners, distributors, celebrities etc.
Each year it's held at a different grand chateau in the Medoc..
The year I went, it was at the lovely
Chateau Cantenac-Brown.
I wrangled an invite by suggesting I should take photographs
for Wine Enthusiast magazine. A tradition at the Fete is the prestigious awarding of new memberships intoLe Commanderie du Bon temps du MedocNew and old members get to parade about in claret red velvet robes..
Hugh Grant was a recipient, but alas, I did not get his picture. Here are the St. Emilion Bon Temps members parading.After Champagne and hors d'oeuvre on the grounds
there's a grand dinner inside. In 1997 it was held inside a tent in case of rain. Between courses there was Cirque du Soleil-style entertainment. Performers on stilts dressed up as Bon temps members paraded.
Acrobats decked out as corks flew through the air to keep us amused.
I did this party doodle after the Fete.
The dinner menu served was quite simple - just 5 courses.
After all there were 1500 guests attending!
But I was amazed to see the cheese course/fromages served to each guest individually by special cheese servers, rather than 6 cheese chunks sitting on a plate.
The piece de resistance was of course, the wine menu shown here.
13 wines served to go with the 5 courses!
I noticed while sitting at the Wine Enthusiast table,
a bit of tipping the waiter to get very large glasses refilled
with some of the world's finest wines.
Here is the sad secret that has kept me from following in Ms. P. Hilton's footsteps.
My alcoholic capacity is about 2 THIMBLES FULL.
Anymore than my quota
and I am known to become dangerously flagrant or fall asleep à table.
Plus I suffer mild hangovers.
So I did not leave the soiree drunk and disorderly.
But I did get a very nice claret red umbrella (it started to rain)
with the insignia of Le Bon Temps Commanderie on it
And the truly amazing fact is
I still have this umbrella 10 years later!

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Champagne Mumm Days

More past stories from 1994 of my days at Champagne Mumm thanks to the great kindness of Paul Bocuse. 
KS said...you've had the coolest jobs!

Paul Bocuse, Champagne Mumm's spokes person,
suggested I do some artwork for them and made introductions.
They gave me a test assignment: Come up with a big group drawing of tons of celebrities drinking Mumm that they could gift to all their employees.
Can you spot Kate Moss? And there's one of the Seagrams brothers embracing the big bottle. Please note everyone is holding their glass by the STEM. Never hold a champagne glass by the "bowl". You must not warm up the bubbles.

That group drawing led to a portrait promotion program. They thought I should paint the portraits directly onto the Mumm bottles?
I imagined a sea of Mumm jeroboams in my living room. The last minute I dreamed up the idea to print their label design on my watercolor paper and I ended up with just stacks of nice neatly printed Champagne labels
One of the perks of this career was I got to stay at the Mumm mansion in Reims.
The countryside in Champagne is magnificent and there's a new fast train from Paris that gets you there in an hour. Don't miss it!

I got to stay a week in Verzy at Veuve Clicquot's country estate.
It was just me and a refrigerator full of
They said, "Help yourself" Right! :)
Someone did pop in to deliver petit dejeuner in the morning and the rest of the time I communed with the grapevines. They still use straw baskets to pick the grapes in Champagne.

There's a lot of partying in the Champagne Biz. These pourers are dressed up as old fashioned "cellar men". They used to turn the resting bottles.

They're fun to sketch... This is not me embracing the big bottle, that's my French boss at Mumm.

This is me partying at the Chelsea Arts Club Belle Epoche Ball held at London's Albert Hall... Well there is a Champagne bottle in the picture. We had to show up outfitted from Degas and Lautrec paintings. I chose a Degas dancer. 
Roger Terry, the club concierge, told me,
"If you add one more satin bow to that outfit, you'll look like a dog's dinner."
Don't you just love the Brits!

Pass the Bolly Sweetie Darling!
Thank you for reading Paris breakfast. If you enjoyed this newsletter, forward to a friend. Gift yourself and your friends Paris letters, maps and watercolors

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Drawing the chefs

JAmes Beard House Events CalendarAnother PAST POST. Please note the date. I'm reposting tales from 1994, whilst at the James Beard House that I blogged about here in 2007. Things I did over 20 years ago. I still draw and paint (visit Etsy svp) but I am no longer painting chefs jackets.  I may re-post the rest of the week if you like. Enjoy! PS How did the birds get in here?
Becs said, How did you manage to land all these sweet gigs?
When you're known in the family as the "artist" it's a natural you'll end up doing caricatures at Sweet 16 Birthday parties. Better than baby sitting.

Julia Child Great Chefs Party at March Invitation
But I didn't know I was laying the groundwork for sketching chefs at fancy dos. Here's an invitation I did for a benefit party of Julia Child with Great Chefs held at restaurant March.

I proposed to FOOD ARTS MAGAZINE that I do some sketchbook pages for them at the Lyon Food Fair - also known as the Salon des Metiers de Bouche (meaning Salon of the Careers of the Mouth!) It's an international catering, hotel and food trade exhibition held bi-annually in January.

The French take it so much further than the Fancy Food Show Real fish mongers, crepe makers, cheese vendors - The WORKS

I illustrated an invitation for D'Artagnan's big anniversary party at Grand Central station for Ariane Daguin. Sketching the party was part of the fun of photographing and attending these events.

After Paul Bocuse's M.O.F. party, George Duboeuf gave a bang-up chef soiree... More doodles.
Sketching at the James Beard AwardsOut of these party sketches I ended up doing a series of ads for Restaurant Associates showing the Tropica chef creating in the kitchen. I went in, taped his conversation and made it part of the ads seen inside New York Magazine too.  Party sketching is a FUN career

Thanks for reading Parisbreakfast. If you enjoyed this newsletter, forward to a friend. Gift yourself and your friends Paris letters, maps and watercolors

Monday, January 22, 2018

Painting Chefs jackets

Since you asked, more stories of my fabulous adventures at Paul Bocuse's 1994 
MOF luncheon in Lyon. Enjoy!
The next chapter of my varied career path...Butcher, baker, candlestick maker...
What's next? Chefs jacket painter!
As I mentioned before I had nothing to wear to the ball...I mean the chef portrait exhibit opening at the James Beard House.. So I painted a Bragard chef's jacket to wear covered with portraits of said chefs!
Here's a back view with my favorite back views of the chefs. I mentioned that I wore 4 different jackets to Paul Bocuse MOF award luncheon. Not all at once. I rotated them in the ladies room. 

A tall, dark, thin man came over and said he'd like to order a painted jacket. 
I asked for his business card. He said he had none. I asked could he write his name on a piece of paper.. 
He wrote -
Georges Duboeuf!
I did a special "Flower Label" jacket for a good friend of his.
At the same Bocuse lunch another chef invited me for lunch at his Lyon hotel restaurant.There he served me my first and last whole black Perigord truffle en croute. After I finished his dish and assured him it was wonderful.. (what do I know of truffles, chocolate or otherwise) he informed me, 'Now you will paint me a chef's jacket. You have just eaten your payment!'
Pas de choise
/I had no choice..C'est la vie Sometimes you just have to ‘sing for your supper’
I got to know famed French chef, Roger Verge at that luncheon. He asked me to paint him a special jacket for his upcoming vegetable cookbook tour. Payment would be a stay at his fabulous French Riviera inn, Le Moulin de Mougins. I never got around to tasting that "truffle" and now he's no longer there.
 Wendy Brandes at the Wall Street Journal did a little story on the jackets,
"Michelangelo liked ceilings.
Diego Rivera preferred murals.
Carol Gillott goes for...chefs jackets."
I never ever worried what to wear to a ball or foodie event I was shooting. Plus I was a walking advertisement for the jackets. Mothers liked the jackets for their graduating culinary school kids. Chefs liked them for special events. Chefs were just entering the celebrity arena at that time. A back view of the "pasta jacket" of a Tuscan hill town for all you returning sojourners from Italy!