Why Not to Be a ChefExpect to get burned, be on your feet all the time, and spend all your time cleaning fish. Other than that, it’s great!
Tony Bourdain’s Kitchen Is Just Like Yours; New York Chefs Cook for 50 CentSelf-styled badass chef Tony Bourdain plays 20 Questions, revealing that he lives with his wife and daughter on the Upper East Side these days — “proximity to Baby Gap is a priority” — and has a kitchen that is “small and functional and very crowded with baby food, cat food, a few essentials.” [Chicago Tribune]
Frank Bruni takes a moment to sort through the piles of food-related tomes that landed on his desk this year, finding his favorites to be David Kamp’s The Food Snob’s Dictionary and the recently released Secret Ingredients: The New Yorker Book of Food and Drink. [Diner’s Journal/NYT]
Related: David Kamp Adds Two More Entries to the Food Snob’s Dictionary
A recent NYU grad is suing Times Square club Arena for $2 million over a June incident in which he was overcharged by $1,000, beat up by the bouncer, and arrested for not buying enough alcohol. [NYP]
Jimmy’s Secret Chef Performs Culinary Miracles in the East Village
We always like Jimmy’s — the Belgian beers, the sausage plates, the occasional bacon tasting. But nothing could have prepared us for our recent discovery of a living, breathing young chef working gastronomic magic in Jimmy’s ultraprimitive kitchen. Using only two hot plates and a toaster oven, Philip Kirschen-Clark, the former fish man at wd-50, is making surprising, inventive dishes every night at the East Village bar.
Ask a Waiter
Chris Wilgos of Gilt Serves the Anonymous Superrich
Under chef Christopher Lee, Chris Wilgos worked his way up from a runner to a captain at Philadelphia’s premier restaurant, the Striped Bass. When Lee replaced chef Paul Liebrandt at Gilt about a year ago, Wilgos followed. He’s been waiting tables and acting here ever since. We asked him about his wealthy clientele and those who yearn for Le Cirque.
Gilt Shows Midtown East the HandBattery Park City: Flurt frozen yogurt looks almost complete on South End Avenue. [Eater]
East Village: Wannabistro 26 Seats has just changed owners, but for now the menu will remain the same. [Grub Street]
Flatiron: The Gansevoort people plan to open another hotel on Park Avenue South somewhere in the Twenties. [Down by the Hipster]
Midtown East: Gilt will close for the last two weeks in August, before chef Christopher Lee debuts the fall menu. [Grub Street]
Sunset Park: Sunset Park locals fight to keep out Papa John’s pizza: “I feel like this is the neighborhood’s last stand,” says one pie protester. [NYT]
Upper West Side : Aix brasserie will host a six-course wine dinner next Monday night showcasing rosé. [Grub Street]
The Other Critics
Cuozzo Hammers the Shake Shack; Much Hodgson Love for InsiemeSteve Cuozzo uses his bully pulpit in the Post to come down hard on the Shake Shack, calling the place out for insanely long lines and “a hamburger that’s an also-ran at best.”
Related: Kyle Dureau Wants Shake Shack to Be Open 24/7 As Much As You Do [Grub Street]
Having weathered a major two-star review by Adam Platt, Insieme finally gets its first three-star one, from Moira Hodgson, who is impressed by how perfectly executed every dish is, lavishing special praise on one of the place’s more overlooked features, co-owner Paul Grieco’s wine list. [NYO]
Related: Italian, Old and New [NYM]
The Times gives Katz’s the full Frank Bruni treatment, and the place comes out of it with one star, much loving description, and an eerie semi-confirmation of our earlier report that the place might be sold. [NYT]
Related: Mother of Mercy! Is This the End of Katz’s? [Grub Street]
The Other Critics
Wild Salmon Starts Its Upstream Journey Strongly; Craftsteak UpgradedAlan Richman has a few qualms about Wild Salmon – its reason for being, for example – but likes both the food (except for the sauces) and the service (when it’s not too friendly). Given how ready Richman is to knock restaurants, owner Jeffrey Chodorow has to feel pretty good about this one. [Bloomberg]
Related: Wild Salmon Swims Into View. Yes, ‘Pun Intended’ [Grub Street]
The newly revamped Craftsteak and Craftbar get rereviewed by Bruni, who awards the less than the white-hot former a much-needed second star, and the latter, “more or less back on track” after earlier troubles, a (borderline) single star. [NYT]
Time Out’s Randall Lane lays four stars (out of six) on Gilt, finding Chris Lee’s cooking admirable all around, if less risky than that of his predecessor, Paul Liebrandt, who still keeps popping up whenever the restaurant is discussed. [TONY]
Related: Gramercy Rehab [NYM]
Urgent All Points Bulletin for Spring Vegetables
You don’t have to look far to see spring vegetables on menus all over New York. But look for local spring vegetables, and you may find they’re AWOL. Unseasonal weather has put the kibosh on many area sources, and for chefs that pride themselves on local ingredients, it’s a problem.
In the Magazine
Chefs Try to Take It to the Next Level in This Week’s Issue
Five established chefs take center stage in this week’s issue – or six, if you count Kurt Gutenbrunner, who, per In Season, has a way with white asparagus. The others? Michael Anthony, the Blue Hill Haute Barnyard prodigy who stepped into Tom Colicchio’s shoes at Gramercy Tavern; Christopher Lee, a major rising talent who filled big shoes at Gilt; Kerry Simon, a Las Vegas–based Vongerichten lieutenant who is now doing the food for a giant karaoke bar; and finally Marco Canora and Asian dessert master Pichet Ong, whose long-awaited debuts, Insieme and P*Ong, respectively, open this week. All this star power, along with two short lists that couldn’t be more different, awaits in this week’s magazine.
Give a Fast-Food Receipt, Get a MetroCardThe city, seeking to find out just how badly New Yorkers eat prior to implementing its new calorie-info law, is trading MetroCards for meal receipts. [Nation’s Restaurant News]
Akthar Nawab of E.U., Michael Anthony of Gramercy Tavern, and Chris Lee of Gilt all talk about the challenges of taking over an established restaurant (getting reviewed too soon, finding the fuse box, etc.). [NYP]
The Spotted Pig’s April Bloomfield is being named Food & Wine’s Best New Chef. [NYP]
Nick Morgenstern Rips Gilt a New OneFormer Gilt pastry chef Nick Morgenstern has given us the inside dope on his firing last week. According to Morgenstern, chef Chris Lee and hotel management are pinning the move on each other: “They’re doing a little dance, pointing at each other, and they don’t want to give me any severance,” he tells us. Meanwhile, he’s heard that Lee’s pastry-chef buddy David Carmichael (formerly of Oceana and the Russian Tea Room) was seen checking out Morgenstern’s kitchen while the chef was out of town. But why did he get canned, anyhow?
The Annotated Dish
Gilt’s Tradition-Defying Tuna WellingtonOvershadowed at first by his controversial predecessor, Paul Liebrandt, Gilt’s Christopher Lee is finally being recognized as one of the city’s most accomplished chefs. His signature dish, tuna Wellington, is characteristically inventive, intense, and well balanced. “I wanted to do a classic in a different light,” he tells us. Get his description of each painstakingly chosen ingredient by mousing over the arrows.
The Other Critics
Chodorow Sure to Be Pissed Over New ‘Times’ Steakhouse ReviewThis one is bound to kill Chodorow. Bruni visits a steakhouse even more vulgar than Kobe Club and awards it one star: Robert’s Steakhouse, inside the Penthouse Executive Club. Adam Perry Lang, as most recognize, is one of the city’s top meat guys. [NYT]
Meehan affirms that Kefi’s has terrific food at a bargain. He notes that it was strangely quiet the nights he was there, but that has changed, we’re told, since the Underground Gourmet gave the restaurant four stars. [NYT]
Think of this less as a review of Gilt than an excuse for Steve Cuozzo to acknowledge Chris Lee, one of the city’s most underappreciated chefs, whose ill fortune it was to follow Paul Liebrandt and his alienating high-concept cookery. [NYP]
Going for Gold in the Gilt RestroomsFirst Le Cirque 2000 was out at the over-the-top opulent Palace Hotel and Gilt was in; then foam fiend Paul Liebrant was out, along with his wallet-busting lunches, and the more sedate Christopher Lee was in. We wondered how the bathrooms were surviving the changes (had the toilets been sold on eBay along with the bar?), so we slipped into the surprisingly shabby stairwell leading to a carpeted hallway.