It’s that time of year again time for chefs to nominate themselves for the James Beard Awards! The process by which anyone and everyone can go online and get their favorite cooks and restaurants on the ballot is a recipe for self-promotion and voter fraud beyond Karl Rove’s juiciest fantasies. Just ask Jason Neroni, the “desperate chef” whose ingenuous plea to his friends and family propelled him to laughingstock status. The Beard Awards are actually decided by an august committee, but starting on Monday, anyone who wants to make the judges aware of a chef or restaurant (even if they aren’t that chef themselves) can do so by going to the Beard Website. By all means though, don’t write anything along the lines of “hey everybody, I need your help!!!!!!!!!!!!! PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE vote for me for rising star chef!” Because, you know, someone could get a hold of it and publish it on a Website, and then where would you be?
Related: Chef's Desperate Plea: Nominate Me for an Award!
There have been a flurry of Chef Q&As in the blogosphere lately, but Gothamist’s sit-down with Daniel Humm of Eleven Madison Park really stood out for us. Part of it was the chef’s unabashed enthusiasm for three-star European chefs nobody has ever heard of. (Nobody, that is, who reads blogs.) Then there was this tidbit, which interviewer Hugh Merwin saved for last: After this year’s James Beard Awards, Humm threw an informal party at Eleven Madison. The highlight was 80 drunken guests pouring into the kitchen, where Daniel Boulud made scrambled eggs with truffles. This just highlights an important food rule: Always follow Boulud. Last year, the highlight of the after-party at Thor was Boulud jumping up on the bar and spraying everyone with champagne at three in the morning. If you can’t hang out with the man, at least read about it in Gothamist.
Daniel Humm, Chef [Gothamist]
Welcome to the latest installment of the Launch, where Sam Mason, former pastry chef at wd-50, relates the ups and downs of preparing to open Tailor, the swanky restaurant and lounge coming together at 525 Broome Street.
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]
Revolutions don’t happen overnight, so we weren’t shocked that only one of the three Beard Award categories reversed tradition. Still, last night’s ceremony officially ushered in a new era in fine dining.
Times are changing in the restaurant world – but just how fast? Tonight’s James Beard Awards will help answer the question of whether the traditional tablecloth restaurants, which seem to be on the way out, still wield their old clout in the gastronomic Establishment.
The Beard Foundation is taking a battering these days; even on the eve of its big night, its finances are being questioned, and foodies and cooks left and right have had a field day abusing them on the Web. And let's not forget the huge embezzling scandal that engulfed the organization a couple of years ago. But there’s at least one chef who will speak up for the awards: Andrew Carmellini of A Voce.
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 nominees for New York City’s Best Chef know that there’s more to the award than who makes the best plate of spaghetti. Looking back at previous years in which he was nominated, Picholine’s Terrance Brennan says, “Our customers were always loyal, but because I wasn’t playing the game, we were under the foodie radar. Being friends with the [Beard] committee helps I imagine if you know some people, your odds are probably better.”
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]
Chefs have a lot of strong feelings about the upcoming James Beard Awards and not usually awe and admiration. They seem to feel that the awards are political, arbitrary, and favor restaurant-world good ole boys at the expense of anti-social but brilliant cooks. But just try to get them to say anything like that in print.
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]
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]