I’m not the first person to say this, nor the last, but Sherry Yard is the bomb. The executive pastry chef and resident sweet-nik for the Wolfgang Puck empire was in full effect last night at the Walker Art Center. Flying in from all over the globe, Puck’s army descended on the Walker for a benefit called CuisineArt. Clever.
A two-hour cooking class had the sixty attendees divided into teams making hors d’oeuvres like corn blini with smoked salmon (20.21 flies it in every week from Spago in Beverly hills) or Puck’s signature tuna tartare cones. Watching Deb Hopp, Frank Guzzetta, Michael Francis, Amir Efkethari, Kathy Halbreich, Art and Martha Kaemmer, and the rest of the Twin Cities' A-list decked out in chef’s whites and cooking up a storm was a blast for food mavens like yours truly. Yard was off the charts. Stretching strudel dough the length of a twelve-foot table with a confident and cavalier 'been there, done that' professionalism that even impressed the most jaded cynic in the room (me).
After the class, we all headed down to the 20.21 restaurant for a meal that featured hot and sour Thai coconut milk soup with lobster, pan-roasted turbot, grilled lamb, roasted duck salad and Yard’s kaiserschmarren, a mind-blowing German soufflé-pudding on warm poached berries. 20.21 chef Scott Irestone and his crew did a great job hosting the event, and for those who have never been to the restaurant, you need to head over there soon.
While Yard’s work was the most impressive from my perspective (her cookies, candies, and chocolate cookie goody bags were the talk of the town last night), Puck has to be acknowledged as the quintessential chef of our modern generation. His sense of theater, incomparable reach across the globe, and ability to cook and talk without pausing to do anything else except flirt, eat, drink, tell stories, and sell himself and his company is mind-boggling. And while Puck prexy Carl Schuster may have lamented their recent TV efforting ( Celebrity Cooking Showdown was yanked after only a few episodes aired), he and Puck, Puck’s brother Klaus, Sherry Yard, Lee Hefter, and all the other cooks and WP company veeps around the world can rest easy—their organization is second to none.