The second annual “Best of Westchester” event was a roaring success. For one evening, on Wednesday, July 20th, Glen Island Harbour Club in New Rochelle was transformed by Westchester Magazine into a scene somewhere between a county fair and a rousing bacchanalia. Over 3000 guests made the party the place to be. Tickets were sold out well in advance, as the anticipation grew ever keener.
Before going in to join the festivities, I took a moment to peer out onto peaceful Long Island Sound, as did many others. Soon, even the outdoor pavilions were alive with music and merrymaking.
Those entering through the front door were greeted by a Britney Spears look alike, who sported a ringmaster’s outfit, a whip, and a great attitude. Everyone wanted a picture, and she cheerfully obliged.
Equally accommodating were a bevy of bathing beauties, who also attracted photographers both amateur and professional. Their skimpy outfits were flashy and altogether appropriate, as several revelers also dressed up in eye catching ensembles.
But the real draw for many of us was the glorious array of food. Winners of the Best of Westchester Awards were chosen by readers of Westchester Magazine, and the choices were first rate. Peter Xavier Kelly’s renowned X20 Xaviars on the Hudson quite rightly took home the honors for “Best Fine Dining and Special Occasion Restaurant.” The Dean of Hudson Valley Chefs, Kelly himself poured prosecco over glasses of Ceviche of Ahi Tuna With Red And Yellow Watermelon, with Chili and Yuzu (opening photo).
Glamorous Leslie Lampert spent the evening greeting fans of her Café Of Love, which won “Best Place for Date Night.” As always, Leslie’s food (above) attracted a huge crowd, and Leslie had a kind word and winning smile for everyone.
I was dazzled by the array of sushi. In a relatively short period of time, Asian cuisine has become commonplace in Westchester. When my husband and I first moved here, there was one Chinese restaurant, and that was as exotic as it got. Now, there’s an abundance of Indian, Thai, and Japanese eateries.
There was, of course, much more than food being offered. A graceful dancer whirled and struck poses; mini back massages were being offered; a media tent was jammed. While it was great seeing old friends, it was also nice to meet new ones. My eye was caught by some pretty jewelry; the shop owner turned out to have a store in my own town, but we’d never met. All in all, there were about one hundred twenty vendors featured. Ninety to one hundred had won an award. The fine art of networking was practiced on a grand scale.
But really, it was about the food. There were mountains of cupcakes and pastries; trays and trays of irresistible sweets; and a never ending supply of wine for tasting. We arrived early and left early. I was exhausted, but one of my companions, an energetic twenty-three year old, was reluctant to depart. “It was really fun,” she said. “I loved it!”
Her sentiments were obviously echoed by many who had eagerly awaited this day for a year; they came from Westchester and beyond to join in the celebration. As we drove home, we passed a line of cars belonging to would be revelers. It stretched for miles.
Michall Jeffers is an accomplished Cultural Journalist She writes extensively, both in print and online. Her eponymous cable TV show is syndicated throughout the tri-state area, and features celebrity interviews, reviews, and commentary. She is a voting member of Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, American Theatre Critics Association, International Association of Theatre Critics, Dance Critics Association, and National Book Critics Circle. www. michalljeffers.com
Photo credit: Kat McKee
Additional photos: Michall Jeffers