Don't Pull a Neroni at This Year's James Beard Awards
The James Beard Awards after-parties presented special challenges which could only be solved by the liberal use of an open bar. The place to go was the Hawaiian Tropic Zone, whose bikini-clad waitresses and go-go dancers, serving at the behest of chef David Burke, provided a welcome dose of vulgarity after the high-class Beard gala. But the truly hot ticket was the Momofuku party bus, which, if David Chang & Co. were to be believed, was a chartered party vehicle where the most intense celebrating would be done. Regretfully, though, it was closed to press. “Sorry, dude,” David Chang told us, dazed and blissful and still unbelieving in the wake of his victory.
Michael Chow of Mr. Chow is hit with a $5 million lawsuit for skimming tips, demanding “cult-like attention” from staff, and utilizing “degradation as a management technique.” [NYP] Cooking-school graduates are being crushed by their student-loan debts: “The story is always the same. The school convinces the student they are going to be the next Julia Child or Wolfgang Puck, and the student will sign anything.” [NYT] The Smith and Wollensky Restaurant Group finally agrees to be bought out by Patina Restaurant Group [NYT] Related: The Secrets of Steakhouse Riches [Grub Street]
Michael Ruhlman blasts the Beards in his blog, questioning the organization’s whole purpose: “I’d like to know exactly what it is they intend to do, beyond give themselves an expensive party once a year.” [Ruhlman] Yum Brands, owner of the E. coli–ridden Taco Bell and the rat-infested Taco Bell–KFC, is making all kinds of money despite two PR disasters in one year. [International Herald-Tribune] A St. Vincent’s Hospital–bound ambulance was delayed, and not for the first time, by the congestion in front of the Waverly Inn, as “drivers for wealthy patrons slowly inched their limos out of the way.” [NYP]
The Beard Foundation, in the spotlight as Monday’s awards approach, is still on shaky ground financially, and questions still linger about the way it spends its money. [NYT] Restaurants are lobbying customers to vote for them in the Zagat survey, a trend nobody likes, but which few in the business can stop or resist. [NYP] The days of the fat chef seem to have been passed, leaving mostly whippet-slim cooks to inherit the world’s kitchens. [Waitrose via Serious Eats]
A primer on the “glamour, rivalries, and after-parties“ of the Beard Awards (not as exciting as it sounds) reveals that if you’re a Kansas City restaurateur, you’re screwed. [NYS] Iacopo Falai discusses his “love affair” with food, fails to explain why he hires haters for waiters. [Cravings] The Times launches "Dining Briefs," which of course is nothing like Diner’s Journal. [NYT]
Shocking health news of the day: Chinese food, at least the kind we eat in New York, is outrageously salty and fatty. [NYP] Meanwhile, Chinese buns are only getting more popular in the city’s better restaurants. [NYDN] Bret Thorn, Nation’s Restaurant News’ restaurant blogger and a longtime observer of the scene, gives his Beard Award picks. [Foodservice Blog/Nation's Restaurant News]
Zak Pelaccio and Top Chef’s Harold Dieterle open new restaurants. [NYT] Related: Harold Dieterle’s Perilla to Open ... on Jones Street! [Grub Street] And Jeffrey Chodorow’s new Malaysian restaurant, for which Pelaccio was consulting chef, opens in London. [This Is London] Related: Has the Food Over There Really Become Edible? [NYM] The rat expert who instructed the Department of Health says the city is a rodent’s paradise. [WP]
The Department of Health rampage claims its most eminent victim yet: the venerable Brasserie LCB (formerly known as La Cote Basque). Apparently chef Jean-Jacques Rachou had a few things to say to the inspectors when they arrived. [NYP] According to the owner’s father, DiFara legend Dom De Marco, De Marco’s Pizza may close permanently in the wake of the recent shooting. [NYP] A more palatable way of making foie gras: Let the geese gorge themselves. [BBC via Chow]
We got an e-mail today, and not a happy one at that, from Jason Neroni, the young chef outed by Gawker as the author of an e-mail urgently soliciting Beard Award nominations. We released the missive last week, under the headline "Chef's Desperate Plea: Nominate Me for an Award!" What did he have to say?
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