Hollywood Meets the Food World

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To view a slide show featuring photos of the Julie & Julia premiere, click here.

So, last week was the Julie & Julia premiere, which besides being in New York was probably a bit different from the usual Hollywood premiere because of the large number of food industry and food journalism professionals who were there.

In this case, it was all friends and family of Nora Ephron, and it all crossed over seamlessly. Everyone gathered at the Ziegfeld Theatre on West 54th Street, which is the only real, old-fashioned movie theater left in New York City.

Ever since I signed on to work on Julie & Julia, I wondered if there would be a premiere, and if there was, whether I would be one of the invited.

This was an exciting evening for me. Ever since I signed on to work on Julie & Julia, back in early winter of 2008, I wondered if there would be a premiere, and if there was, whether I would be one of the invited. I was! And it was everything I thought it would be.

By the time we arrived at the fabulous Stanford White-designed Metropolitan Club, I was so busy talking to people and having a good time that I could hardly be bothered to sample some of the Julia Child-inspired dishes that were prepared by some of NYC's best chefs--out of character for me!--though I did taste when my husband, Steve, fetched a plate of oysters and shrimp here, mini-coquilles St. Jacques there, and finally a deliciously unctuous take on boeuf bourguignon.

I also had a bite of individual tarte tatin--a take on my proudest food moment in the movie. I worked hard to make what I perceived to be my personal best tarte tatin. Though I have made many in my life, I tweaked proportions and techniques until perfection was achieved.

But enough about tarts, let's get to the stars. Of course the stars of the movie were in attendance--the incomparable Meryl Streep, Stanley Tucci (looking dapper in a white jacket and a deep tan), Amy Adams, and Chris Messina. Joan Juliet Buck, the Vogue writer who brilliantly plays Madame Brassart of the Cordon Bleu cooking school, was there, looking not at all like her frightening character who I was too intimidated to speak to on set.

Of course I had to say hello to Meryl, who was holding court between two tables for what seemed to be the entire evening. I had my moment, and she was warm and gracious as always. My moment was interrupted by Ben Bradlee. Recognizing that I was outranked, I moved on. Stanley Tucci complimented me on my work in the film, and I complimented him on his white jacket. My husband Steve asked him about his visit to the White House (we read that Michelle Obama arranged for a screening and invited the stars). I'm not sure I can reveal his answer, but let's just say they are members of the mutual admiration society.

My friend Amanda Hesser, who plays herself in the movie and who also introduced me to Nora Ephron--which is why I got involved in this project in the first place--was there too. Steve Buscemi, Patricia Clarkson, Bob Balaban, Zoe Kazan (my favorite up-and-coming actress), and others I am probably forgetting or missed were all there.

From the food world, Nina and Tim Zagat, Anthony Bourdain, Jeffrey Steingarten, Ed Levine, Drew Nieporent, Dana Cowin, Gail Simmons, Lee Brian Schrager--who curated the chefs to cook for the event--and of course Corby Kummer were all in attendance. Others who don't fall neatly into either the Hollywood or food world were Martha Stewart, Charlie Rose, Gay Talese, Toni Morrison, and Barbara Walters. And these were just the people I saw!

And then there were the non-boldface names, the ones who actually make a movie get made and stylishly and well. I made plans to meet up with my talented friend Mark Ricker, who was the production designer on the film. He was the one responsible for dreaming up all of the gorgeous sets that made the movie feel so authentic. My favorite set was the Cordon Bleu, which felt so real when I was standing inside of it that I really felt what it was like to be there, then.

Susan Bode, the set decorator who helped bring Mark's vision to life was there, too. I also saw Ann Roth, the legendary (if you don't believe me, look up her filmography on imdb.com) costume designer who created all of the wonderful period "Julia" looks as well as the circa-2002 Julie looks and everything in between. My appreciation for her art is beyond words. And, so of course, is my appreciation for the art of Nora, Meryl, and the people I had the luck to work so hard and long with.

Recipe: Tarte Tatin

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Susan Spungen is a cook, food stylist, recipe developer, editor, and author. More

Susan Spungen is a cook, food stylist, recipe developer, editor, and author. She is the author of Recipes: A Collection for the Modern Cook and co-author of Martha Stewart's Hors D'Oeuvres Handbook. Susan was the Culinary Consultant and Food Stylist on Julie and Julia, the upcoming feature film.
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