Mario Batali and Wylie Dufresne may be celebrities to the foodie set, but to the doorman at Downtown Cipriani, they don’t make the cut. On a recent snowy evening, Jean-Georges Vongerichten hosted an intimate dinner for his 50th birthday upstairs there. Phil Suarez, Daniel Boulud, and John McDonald were on hand to sip Cristal. But when Dufresne arrived, followed by Batali (in his trademark shorts and clogs), both were refused entry. When Vongerichten explained their credentials, the doorman merely shrugged. “I work for the Ciprianis. I do not know chefs.’’ Dufresne says, “It was brutal outside. Don’t underestimate my ability to dress inappropriately, so it’s no surprise I was left to stand out in the cold. But it’s a bit comical when Mario Batali is meant to wait outside an Italian—or pseudo-Italian—restaurant. The guy is one of the most recognizable names in Italian cooking—he’s on TV four times a day.’’ Eventually they got in. Vongerichten was forgiving. “Giuseppe Cipriani is a great host,’’ he said. “Most of my friends are guys, chefs. I guess they would rather let in pretty girls.’’
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