Meeting so many folks in my line of work, every once in a while there is just someone who stands out, someone with a natural charisma and one such personage is Audrey Slade, the Director of Public Relations at the Baltimore’s Four Seasons Hotel. We had interacted in a professional sense since the Four Seasons Hotel opened in Baltimore but it was at an Instagram gathering that we got to chat on a more personal level. Audrey is a woman of substance; with numerous connections we share in Washington DC, I wanted to get to know her better. Lunch was proposed and finally marked on our calendars to meet at the Four Seasons preeminent restaurant, Wit & Wisdom Tavern, a Michael Mina restaurant.
Being a bit early, I walked around the bar and lounge area. I've been before but not in daylight and it was nice to really take in the space. There is a selection of social seating areas with couches and large armchairs. Spying what seemed an insane amount of fresh citrus lined up at the bar, the bartender informed me that they easily go through that in an evening, especially since all their juices are freshly squeezed.
The modelesque Audrey arrives, stunning and with a beautiful smile. She is tall but not insanely tall but my late father would have called her high pockets. Audrey explained she had modeled in her school days but just wasn’t animated enough and her preferences lied elsewhere. “If I wasn’t in public relations I would like to be a teacher – I love learning” states Audrey. She says she is reading Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom and Wonder by Arianna Huffington.
Dara: If you could have lunch with anyone living or dead?
Audrey: Nelson Mandela. I would like to talk about leadership.
Audrey started her public relations career at the Ritz Carlton Tyson’s Corner as the diplomatic and business coordinator and then moved on to the public relations position at the Ritz Carlton in Georgetown. She is a welcomed addition to the Baltimore region, spreading the Four Seasons good words with aplomb.
Dara: What is the best dish that you cook?
Audrey: Steak tartare, but then again I’m not cooking that. She side notes roasted chicken but doesn’t want to be held accountable for chicken that is great – too much stress.
Dara: What food could disappear and not be missed?
Audrey: Two things, mashed potatoes and gravy. I like other potato preparations; I like sauces and dips – just not mashed potatoes and no gravy.
Audrey took the banquette side of the table, both of us having a view of the harbor on a very sunny day. Wit & Wisdom has an ala carte lunch menu along with an express 45 minute - two course lunch for $19.95 - Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. On the weekends, one can choose from their brunch menu.
Dara: What has been your epic culinary fail?
Audrey: I tend to get engaged with my company when entertaining and lose track of time and what is in the oven. There was a pizza that was burned beyond being able to be consumed.
Dara: What has been your most memorable meal?
Audrey: With my family, in New York at Le Bernardin for my mom’s birthday. It was a special, over the top dining experience paired with a great group of people – engaging. There was even ‘table envy’ as our group was heightening the experience, laughing on purpose – other diners were envious.
Dara: Iron Chef, Top Chef, Master Chef, Next Food Network Star, Chopped?
Audrey: Top Chef
We were into some serious conversation but etched out time to order. Both Audrey and I chose one of the new fall items, the Chesapeake oyster stew with salsify, tarragon oil and potato. Our main course choices went two different paths, Audrey with the blackened salmon cake salad and me with the grilled shrimp salad with fennel, orange and Habanero vinaigrette. You can check out the snapshots on the slideshow.
Dara: What is the oldest item in your refrigerator?
Audrey: Salad dressing and Worcestershire sauce.
Dara: Guilty culinary pleasure?
Audrey: Foie gras and a great steak – I’m a carnivore, also a nice piece of carrot cake.
Dara: Truffle oil?
Dara: If you were to meet Julia Child at the pearly gates what would be the conversation.
Audrey: I would ask her to help teach me the basics of cooking.
In between courses, Audrey turned the table on me, by probing and asking me the same questions I asked her. It only seemed apropos considering her thirst for learning. We wanted to linger a bit so we went with dessert, cookies and milk, warm chocolate chip cookies were the perfect finish.
Wit & Wisdom Tavern – Four Seasons Hotel, 200 International Drive, Baltimore, MD 21202 410.576.5800 www.witandwisdombaltimore.com Twitter & Instagram @witwisdomtavern www.facebook.com/WitWisdomTavern