Keith McNally is favored to be named Outstanding Restaurateur at the Beard Awards, at least if you trust New York’s culinary elite. McNally “has created restaurants that you want to go to, that you crave to go once a week,” said Eric Ripert at last night’s “An Evening of Practical Magic,” a City Harvest benefit at Cipriani 42. “And I think it’s pretty genius to do that. He has taken some concepts which were, when you think about Balthazar or Pastis, for instance, which were very, very French, and made it much better than the French.”
Another Frenchman concurred. "For the restaurateur it was Keith McNally and another. I vote for Keith, but Stephen Starr is very good," said Francois Payard. "[McNally] really reaches a mass. And even people who want to go to fancy normally, they can go to his place and he really understands how to cater to people in New York."
Ripert agreed to handicap the Outstanding Chef category for us, too. "Let me see this list," he said. "I love Jose Andres. I love Tom [Colicchio]. They’re all friends of mine! Suzanne [Goin] may deserve it too. And Gary [Danko]. This gentleman [Charles Phan], I don’t know. Tom and Jose are, I think, the ones. One of them."