Bourdain Fends Off Angry Chefs at Batali Dinner
Much was afoot last night here in South Beach, between the evening’s somewhat staid main event, a tribute dinner to Jean-Georges Vongerichten, big after-parties at the chefs-only 212 Access House and Versace Mansion, and a Mario Batali dinner at Danny DeVito’s eponymous South Beach restaurant. There, at close quarters in the kitchen, Batali worked the pasta station; Del Posto and Babbo chefs Mark Ladner and Frank Langello on sauté; Adam Perry Lang cooked immense “103” rib steaks with vast, protruding bones; and Jamie Oliver helped out as needed.
Adam Perry Lang Out at Robert’s SteakhouseAdam Perry Lang’s commitment to Carnevino, the new Batali-Bastianich meatery in Las Vegas, has come at a cost: We’ve learned the chef is no longer associated with Robert’s Steakhouse at the Penthouse Executive Club, which we’ve long maintained is the best steakhouse in the city. “It was a great opportunity and fun project to develop,” Perry Lang tells us. “But I’m now focusing my attention on Daisy May’s, Carnevino, and everything else beef-related.” Given Lang’s famously obsessive commitment to his projects, we can’t see how this could have been otherwise. As for who’s minding the store at Robert’s, it’s a case of meet the new boss, same as the old boss: Jayson Marguiles, the former chef de cuisine who ran every aspect of the place day-to-day, has been elevated to executive chef, with his duties (and presumably Robert’s steak) remaining the same as they’ve been.
Related: Adam Perry Lang Seeks to Create the Perfect Beef Animal
Adam Perry Lang Seeks to Create the Perfect Beef Animal
In the meat business, sourcing is the ultimate boast: It’s not enough to claim your meat is “prime,” when any meathead worth his cholesterol knows how promiscuously that once-proud term is thrown around. No, today’s steakhouse has to have boutique sources or, even better, their own prize bull, as at Primehouse NY. But no meat man has a more obsessive take on quality than Adam Perry Lang. The Robert’s and Daisy May chef tells us that he’s currently in the process of researching what will be his own beef program in Montana. “It’s so important to understand it, to be able to control what’s happening. I want to say that I’m doing everything I can to get it where I want it. I want to raise beef the right way. I want to know I’m doing the right thing.”
Back of the House
The Mystery of the Pitmasters Stymies the ‘Times’The Times, touching on a story Grub Street broke when Moses was in short pants, had a big feature on the dearth of experienced pitmasters Sunday, pegged on GS pal Big Lou Elrose of Wildwood. The piece marvels at the quick ascent of Big Lou from working an Ozone Park lunch wagon to his current post, but in fact, Elrose’s bones were made as Adam Perry Lang’s right hand man in competition; the lunch wagon was just a lark. Still, the city’s top pitmasters are as baffling to food writers as they are to the general public. Their job is hard to understand, because nothing they do happens while customers are present to observe. The pitmaster’s art is exercised in the dead night, in secrecy and silence, and outside observers rarely get any glimpse of what it involves. There is one factor that never changes, though, and will always separate real pitmasters from merely titular ones.
Joe Bastianich Taps Adam Perry Lang for Vegas Meat Mecca
Joe Bastianich, having just opened B&B Ristorante in Las Vegas with Mario Batali, isn’t letting the sands under his feet settle. In December or January, he’ll open Carnevino at the Venetian. Bastianich is likely handling the wine (he’s out of the country and unavailable for comment), but Daisy May’s Adam Perry Lang will oversee every part of the meat program, from procurement to dry-aging.
Notes on the Local Barbecue Revolution
Is the great Calvin Trillin rubbing his eyes in wonderment? Has New York become, after years of bitterness and complaint, a kind of glittering Kansas City by the sea? Or is New York actually a better barbecue town, these days, than K.C. or Memphis or any of the other fabled smoke pits around the country? With the success of Kansas City facsimiles like RUB, Danny Meyer’s annual BBQ festival, and the recent arrival of Hill Country, some respected barbecue hounds actually think so. And what does the Gobbler think? The Gobbler thinks barbecue is a lot better and more ubiquitous in the big city than it used to be. Here’s his guide to the new barbecue revolution.
Jay-Z Now Has 100 Problems; Beef Prices Through the RoofJay-Z now has 100 problems: He’s being sued by the staff of the 40/40 Club for withholding tips and paying less than the minimum wage. [NYP]
Beef prices are getting higher, and the supply of the best stuff getting shorter. Guess what that means for your next steakhouse bill. [NYT]
There is a slew of new restaurants opening in the Hamptons, although none are what you would call world-shaking. [Newsday]
Bourdain Talks Smack About Chodorow, Others; The Joys of Rotting MeatThe joys of rotting meat, as explained by Robert’s Steakhouse chef Adam Perry Lang. [Diner’s Journal/NYT]
Tony Bourdain was captured on video at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival talking shit about Food Network personalities to a crowd. [Snack]
… And late yesterday, laid into Chodorow using Bruni’s Robert’s Steakhouse review as a pretext: “One might ask if it’s ever a good idea anyway to spend 40,000 bucks reminding the public that the New York Times think you suck.”
The Controversy That’s Tearing the Restaurant World Apart
Chefs, especially the better ones, don’t usually pass judgment on one another publicly. So we were shocked recently when we heard one successful chef blasting another one for having handled a fish with tongs. “I wouldn’t even stand in the same kitchen if I saw that!” he thundered. The first one was classically trained; the second, self-taught. It just went to show that if there’s anything that divides the world of chefs, it’s how they learned to cook — and how invested they are in the way that they came up. We staged a cage match between one of the city’s proud grads and a couple eminent autodidacts in order to find out who has it right.
What to Eat Tonight
The Skinny on Fat Tuesday: The EatsAsh Wednesday, if you don’t know, marks the start of Lent, Christianity’s season of self-denial and austerity. Some mark Ash Wednesday Eve consuming loads of meat and drinking. Here’s our short list of places to celebrate Fat Tuesday.
Back of the House
Barbecue: The New Kosher Food?Reading about the launch of Blue Smoke in Danny Meyer’s new book Setting the Table, we had an epiphany. It’s somehow happened that, in the midst of the greatest barbecue boom New York has ever seen, nearly all of the cuisine’s major restaurants are either owned or operated by Jews. Given the wide berth our people have historically given pork, this seems worth commenting on. Meyers’s launching of Blue Smoke was just the beginning. Josh Cohen has just reopened Biscuit in Park Slope; Adam Perry Lang has become a major star in competition BBQ, in addition to launching his Daisy May’s empire; Andrew Fischel’s RUB was anointed by Adam Platt as the city’s best barbecue; and the field will only become further Semiticized this spring, when Mark Glosserman and Robert Richter launch Hill Country BBQ in the Flatiron district. Don’t get us wrong. There are some very fine Gentile barbecuers in New York: John Wheeler at Rack & Soul and John Stage at Dinosaur Bar-B-Que are both expert practitioners. Still, we’re surprised someone didn’t coined the phrase sooner: Bar-B-Jew.
Ex-Cop Brings BBQ Back to Queens
It’s been rough for Queens barbecue enthusiasts. Since “English Bob” Pearson’s last outpost went under last year, there haven’t been any smoked meats worth eating there. But that changed this week, thanks to “Big Lou” Elrose, a six-foot-four former police officer who made his bones assisting Daisy May’s chef Adam Perry Lang in barbecue competition. Elrose has just launched Big Lou’s Breakfast and BBQ, a lunch wagon in Ozone Park open weekdays from 6 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. On the circuit, Big Lou is known for prepping egg-and-bacon breakfasts for everyone. But his barbecue is the real draw here: pulled pork, chopped brisket, and pulled chicken, all slow-smoked over mild fruitwoods like apple and cherry, and served, with his original sauce, on soft but substantial Portuguese rolls from nearby Rosa Bakery. Add in a dollop of his homemade coleslaw and you have a sandwich worth driving to Ozone Park for.
Big Lou’s Breakfast and BBQ, Rockaway Blvd. at 105th St.
The Go-Go Gourmet
You have to hand it to David Burke. The frequently mulletted meat-and-lobster whiz has done it all: He pulled off an experimental gastronomy restaurant in a neighborhood populated mostly by septuagenarians and rethought the hamburger inside a department store. Now, in his crowning glory, he has created a menu for bikini bar Hawaiian Tropic Zone on Seventh Avenue.