One Man’s Gluttony is Another Man’s Lunch

“Diamond Jim” Brady — celebrated glutton of the Gilded Age — is said to have regularly rode around Central Park on one of his 12 gold-plated bicycles. Considering Brady’s legendary appetite, this was an obnoxious but decidedly healthy habit.

After all, a guy famed for routinely settling down to a dinner of six crabs, two-to-three dozen oysters, two bowls of green turtle soup, six or seven lobsters, two ducks, some turtle meat, a sirloin steak, assorted vegetables, and an entire platter of pastries ought to get some exercise.

But this was no ordinary guy. Brady made his money as a salesman with a major railroad-equipment firm. After putting together a succession of multimillion-dollar deals, he spent his substantial take indulging himself in silk hats, custom-made suits, French bonbons, glazed walnuts, diamond rings, jewels, and gallons of orange juice.

“Diamond Jim” may have gotten his name for his flamboyant jewelry, but he made history with his extraordinary diet. So well-known for his excesses, when the glittering glutton would step out for a meal he’d be greeted by cheering crowds betting whether or not he’d die before his jewel-encrusted fingers could squeeze the last delicious morsel into his mouth.

These days, he’s remembered as much for his record-setting spree of public vulgarity as he is for his philanthropic pursuits. Which is to say, if you focus in on doing one thing really well — even if that one thing is dressing like Liberace and devouring an entire breakfast buffet at the local Big Boy — you’ll not only be celebrated in your time, you’ll be remembered through the ages.

Which brings us to this year’s Detroit Home Design Award winners. This, our fifth competition, matched a record number of entrants with a roster of accomplished judges. In categories covering everything from fireplaces to fences and powder rooms to patios, winners were chosen from a wide cross-section of the area’s most talented interior designers, architects, and artisans. In this issue, we devote our pages to celebrating their award-winning work. Use it as a resource guide, coffee-table look book, or as a collective portfolio of the creative professionals working in and around our city. Whatever you do, enjoy it.