Pichet Ong and Wylie Dufresne Disagree About the Changing Restaurant Power Dynamic

Pichet Ong.
Pichet Ong. Photo: Melissa Hom

New York threw a party at the New Museum last night to celebrate the people featured in this week’s issue, “Establishments” — on the city’s new group of influentials. No competition took place to see who was more powerful, unless you count Spot chef Pichet Ong trying to one-up Wylie Dufresne by giving a longer answer to the question of how power dynamics in the restaurant industry have changed in the past few years. (Ong thinks it’s “more sensational, more glamorized,” and Dufresne — who won by two minutes, but only because he’s kind of repetitive — thinks it hasn’t changed much.) Post-loss, Ong jokingly tried to convince us to give him another shot at the voice recorder. All in all, a pretty innocent display of power, but does he ever try to use his influence for evil? “I’ve used it for personal gain. I wouldn’t say necessarily evil,” he told us. “When we’re pushing ourselves to do better, we step on a few things. It’s like it’s impossible, when you’re in the city, to not step on bugs. It’s not a bad thing unless you mean harm.”