Monday, January 11, 2010

Power Brunch with the Dot429 Crowd

It's at the start of the year when we all have good intentions about what we'd like to do better. For me, it's networking and meeting new people. So this year I'm making more of an effort to get out and meet new people.

So that's how I ended up yesterday at a brunch event launching a new networking group for gays and lesbians in the San Francisco Bay Area. Called "dot429," the group held its first event at the Yerba Buena Gardens' Novellus Theater. BTW, I read somewhere how the group came up with its name, but I totally forgot. And there wasn't much explanation at the event or on the group's Web site. (If you visit the site, you might think the group is all about fashion and youth. Ouch.)

The Novellus Theater was a great location for the event. Most of the networking occurred in the second floor lobby, and few ventured out onto the deck, which is where my friend Joe and I spent most of our time hanging out. Networking for me has to be baby steps. At least I had a nice view, right?

The event seemed like a major success just because of the large number of people who attended. Everyone was busy chatting others up or introducing themselves to strangers. See how much buzz is occurring in the photo above? I just felt intimidated by the groups of people all locked in deep conversation. So instead I focused on what I felt comfortable with ... the food and drink.

Thank God for the open bar. I stopped here first and the bartenders had a bunch of Bloody Mary's ready and waiting for me. I love Bloody Mary's but it's funny that I only order them at brunch (or when I'm eating raw oysters).

Actually, one of the other things that attracted me to the dot429 event is that the food was being presented by out chefs Jamie Lauren and Jennifer Biesty, who some of you might remember from the "Top Chef" series on Bravo TV. They put together an amazing menu of brunch-like food served up in cocktail party sizes. And the food was so fancy, including a Salade Landaise with bacon, quail egg, fingerling potato and truffle vinaigrette; Greek Yogurt Parfait with mango, pomegranate seeds and pistachio granola; mini Hungarian coffee cakes (this was Joe's favorite, and I liked it a lot too) and Crab Toast with miso verjus dressing and celery root remoulade.

Here's Joe's plate, that also included a variety of baked goods like a blueberry scone and a lovely cinnamon roll.

Another one of my favorite was the Mini Biscuit with Sausage Gravy, just because I always think this dish is such Southern comfort food and because the sausage gravy was so tasty. (You can see I grabbed a few more of those mini coffee cakes too!)

There were also some food I didn't snap because I was focused on eating them as I tried to avoid talking to people. Things like a Duck Confit Hash with wild arugula and a roasted pepper sauce and Deviled Eggs with caviar and smoked strugeon. BTW, all the food and drink came with the $25 admission cost. Sweet!

Here's Chef Biesty, who was at the event throughout prepping food and meeting fans. Oddly enough, Chef Lauren couldn't be spotted so not sure why she was a no show (even though her food made it). Doesn't matter because Biesty kept the food area moving like clockwork with the food coming out on a regular basis, keeping everyone fed as they had their power talks.

I did actually talk to two new people, so that's a major accomplishment for me. It's still early in the year, so give me a break. :) But one thing's for sure, if they keep serving up such good food, I'll always be there to at least check out the view.


Amy Sherman said...

I always find talking about the food is a good conversation starter!

foodhoe said...

Single guy, for $20 that fantastic sounding spread really is a great price. Miso verjus dressing sounds delicious... Good for you, baby steps at least have some direction!

Kim said...

When I force myself to meet new people, I let to set a goal ... like talk to two people I don't know before I leave or somesuch. Looks like a great event at a great price.

Hungry Dog said...

The food looks amazing! Good for you for going to this event...although I had to laugh at your comment about trying to avoid talking to people. At least you got some good food!

Unknown said...

"I'm just here for the food, people." haha! Chef Biesty is a sweetheart! Great post. I know you said "baby steps" in your post, but I hope to meet you one day! I'm a fan. =)

Carolyn Jung said...

Did you say "duck confit hash"? And more importantly, did you save me any?? ;)

Single Guy Ben said...

Thanks everyone for your support in my endeavor to network more. Yes, the food was much better than my attempts at meeting people. But I tried!

Jo, if you see me in a network event, be sure to approach me because you know I won't! Ha!

Carolyn, I know, I was surprised because I thought it was a crab cake but when I ate it and it was meaty with the strips of duck confit, I thought ... mmmm. :)

Cookie said...

I totally feel the same about Bloody Marys. I love them but only order them at brunch. (Not sure if I'd like them with raw oysters!) We used to make them at home on the weekends but I can usually only handle 1 before switching to something milder!

Single Guy Ben said...

Cookie, Levende East in Oakland makes an oyster shooter using a bloody mary mix. I love it! The best of both worlds! :)

Jenster said...

Baby steps indeed! ;-)

I find that food always makes a great conversation starter. That could explain why you'll find me hovering near the edible spread at most functions, too.

Chloé Harris said...

Hey Single Guy Ben,

Thanks so much for your coverage of our first dot429 brunch. Your pix are fab!

By the way, 4-2-9 spells G-A-Y on a telephone keypad... dot429 is all about connecting the dots between LGBT professionals across the country.

When the site goes live later this month, there will be member profiles (we have more than 5,000 already!), original blog content by thought leaders in various industries, job listings, mentorship opportunities, events and more. dot429 is all-inclusive and open to all ages.

You can register at for details on upcoming networking events, including our monthly brunch with more exciting chefs down the road.

Good luck with your New Year's resolution!

Single Guy Ben said...

Chloe, thanks for giving us the 4-1-1 on 4-2-9. Makes perfect sense now! Hopefully you'll see me at a future brunch event!