There’s an expansive and veritable master class of food world know-how in the current issue of New York, in which chefs and restaurateurs explain everything from why diners may be inclined to pay $24 for carrots Wellington to when, exactly, it makes sense to transition from a pop-up and put down roots. The secret origins of five signature dishes are divulged, and it’s explained how they’ve evolved to become the restaurant world’s equivalent of movie blockbusters — “We just sell too much pork belly, and that has to stop,” says David Chang. There’s also some intel beyond the obvious on why scaling up a single-location restaurant into a mini-restaurant-empire is sometimes worth the gamble. (“One to two restaurants is hard. Two is more difficult than four-plus,” Andrew Carmellini says.)
The package arrives at a unprecedented high-stakes moment in the city’s food culture: Restaurants are poised to reach ambitious heights in 2015 at the same time rents per square foot are scaling to their most absurdly stratospheric levels yet. Eighty-two restaurants closed in 2014, including Pastis and wd~50, and we already know to expect more of the same in the next 12 months. This kind of industry crunch has given rise to a world of vanity hot dogs and a profusion of decent airport restaurants. It’s also the reason why it’s more helpful than ever for chefs to network, but, moreover, it’s the reason why New York’s chef scene has evolved into something decidedly chummier than those old-school, outdated depictions of cutthroat cooks sabotaging the competition’s Bernaise with Windex.
Finally, the guide helpfully decodes the recent trends of feel-good global ambassador chefs like the Franks, odd spaces, and far-flung neighborhoods. Grab a burger with Roquefort and a mound wispy shoestrings, pull up a chair, and check it all out, starting here.