•April 29, 2013 • 24 Comments
We are on the eve of the annual announcement of the “World’s 50 Best Restaurants” list (published by the British magazine Restaurant and sponsored by San Pellegrino & Acqua Panna). As chefs from all over the world gather in London to find out how high or low their restaurants have climbed or fallen in this past year, I wish to share a few thoughts on this event, and that for which it stands.
I have been, heretofore, open but not terribly vocal about my opinion of this list. And that’s because I am loathe to bring it any more attention than it already receives. My issues with the list are long and varied. But I’ll spare you a detailed accounting of my complaints, partly because I feel insufficiently qualified to criticize this list,* but mostly because it is not the subject I wish to explore in this post. However, by the very nature of this address, some of my complaints about this list will naturally follow.
Continue reading ‘rumination 28: what goes up, must come down…’
•April 24, 2013 • 5 Comments
I’m not going to be shy: I’m very good with geography. I always have been. (I also have an unusually good sense of direction. My family calls me the walking GPS.)
But, whereas I once associated places with landmarks, or friends, or museums, or colleges, I now mentally map out the world with food and restaurants.
If you say Ann Arbor, I think of the many sandwiches I had at Zingerman’s as a law student. If someone mentions Modena, Massimo Bottura’s three Michelin-starred Osteria Francescana comes to mind. If you bring up Seasalter, I think of Stephen Harris’s wonderful, vinegary skate wing at his 17th-Century gastropub, The Sportsman. And, if Carmel were to come up in conversation, I’d think of two restaurants: Marinus at Bernardus Lodge in the valley and Aubergine at l’Auberge Carmel by the sea.
But, until I revisited Carmel a few weeks ago (I had been there once as a child, when Clint Eastwood was still the city’s mayor), there was very little that I could attach to that tiny seaside town otherwise.
Continue reading ‘travel: rediscovering coastal cuisine…’
•March 21, 2013 • 2 Comments
You know those restaurants you’ve been meaning to visit for ten years? I have long lists of them. And none is longer or harder to maintain than my New York list.
New York City is a high-volume situation. The sheer number of restaurants that open (and close) there each year, makes it one of the hardest markets with which to keep pace. Despite the fact that I have begun complaining about the culinary stagnation there – has anything truly groundbreaking appeared on New York’s restaurant scene in the last half-decade? – to its credit, I never hurt for options in that city.
Every trip to New York requires me to balance the comfort I take in returning to the reliable against the hope I keep for discovering something new, something better, something different. But, in the past couple of years, that hope has been dashed repeatedly on the glossy pages of overhype. Disenchanted and disappointed, I recently decided to reprioritize my roster. I shelved the new draftees and started working down the bench. And you know what? I ate very well.
Continue reading ‘travel: the well-preserved patina of yesterday…’
•March 19, 2013 • 6 Comments
The last time I was in Copenhagen, I was eleven years-old.
In the years since, the city has waxed into a culinary constellation that now attracts gastronauts from faraway places.
Copenhagen’s rise as an eating destination was quick and hot, and unexpected. But its story was a good one: a naissance of exploration, celebration, and exploitation of natural resources among Danish chefs, who have begun to paint a compelling picture of their indigenous culture, one that is not familiar to most.
But I was skeptical. I always am when I see the press dart, like a school of fish, towards some shiny, new subject.
So, I avoided going to Copenhagen for years. In hindsight, I probably waited a bit too long – not because I missed the apex of the city’s gastronomic parabola (which, I think it has yet to reach), but because the city now brims with more options than I can adequately cover in one or two short trips.
Better late than never, right?
Continue reading ‘travel: better late than never…’
•March 14, 2013 • 4 Comments
In January of 2011, I went to Lyon a spectator, expecting little more than a fun detour on a two-week break from life. It turned out to be the start of the most incredible adventure I’ve known yet.
It’s hard to believe, but one more day and one day more has turned into two years.
I returned to Lyon this past January not only with Team USA, but as a part of Team USA, to photograph the American candidate, Richard Rosendale, and his commis, Corey Siegel, at the 2013 Bocuse d’Or.
Continue reading ‘travel: one day more…’
•March 5, 2013 • 1 Comment
The Chefs Classic, held in late June, raises money for Harvester’s, a food bank in the greater Kansas City area. I serve on the event’s planning committee.
Every year, hosting chef Debbie Gold and I invite three guest chefs from Kansas City, and three from abroad. In the years that I’ve sat on the committee, I’ve helped invite chefs like Sean Brock (Husk and McCrady’s), Curtis Duffy (then at Avenues, now at Grace), Shawn Gawle (then pastry chef at corton, now at saison), William Bradley (Addison at the Grand Del Mar), Michael Laiskonis (then pastry chef at le Bernardin), and Matthias Merges (yusho) to Kansas City. Locally, Gold has invited chefs like Ted Habiger (Room 39), Howard Hanna (Rieger Grill & Exchange), Carl Thorne-Thomsen (story), and the late John McClure (formerly of Starker’s Restaurant).
You’ll find photos of last year’s dinner here.
Continue reading ‘kansas city: 2013 chefs classic…’
•March 3, 2013 • 4 Comments
Europe: if it weren’t for your slow-speed (and often, non-existent) internet and lack of air-conditioning, I’d declare you the superior continent without reservation.
But God bless, every time I step off a plane or train in Europe, be it in Brussels or Strasbourg, Zurich or Amsterdam, I’m greeted with the intense smell of coffee and butter. Lots of coffee and lots of butter. And every time, I close my eyes, inhale deeply, and convince myself that I was never meant to be born in America.
What are a few days of slow connectivity and sweat, anyway? The Europeans make it work, and with style to spare.
So can I, I resolve.
So can I.
Continue reading ‘travel: paper coronation…’