Ungrammatical Forum Poster Tossed From Jean Georges, Gets Revenge inWe’re always leery of the strange, strange world of Abbe Diaz and her online forum, PX This, but a media alert titled “Blogger Tossed From Jean Georges” was difficult to resist. As you might expect, Diaz — a former maître d’ at Jean Georges who wrote a dishy book about her experiences in the business — was in fact the blogger tossed, a cringe-inducing event publicized by the pilloried herself. (All of Diaz’s entries on PX This read like interminable text messages tapped out by the jittery, manicured thumbnails of an ex-model at Rose Bar at 4 a.m.) We include it here entirely for purposes of education: Remember, if you dog someone you worked for in a book, don’t go to his restaurant unless you know he won’t be around.
“Abbe, Maybe You Should Think About…” [PXThis]
Related: Is Abbe Diaz Behind “Sympathy for the Restaurant Industry?”
Back of the House
Jay Rayner Paints the New York Restaurant World in a Few Broad StrokesThe Man Who Ate the World, British restaurant critic Jay Rayner’s tour of the planet’s great restaurant cities will be coming out soon, as Gawker noted yesterday. Its piece lingered over Super Mario’s latest profanity-laced anti-blogger tirade, which was almost as enjoyable as his last one. But having read the New York chapter, we were hit by how much other good stuff was in it.
Back of the House
‘Top Chef’ Recruits Seven NYC ToquesTop Chef has announced its new cheftestants, and we, like everybody else who got the press release, were delighted to see that there are even more NYC cooks than ever before, from restaurants including Mai House, Buddakan, Public, 24 Prince, and Dos Caminos. You can’t go by where they work, though: Among last season’s rivals, Casey was a “personal chef,” whatever that means, and made it to finale, while poor Lia was at Jean Georges and got bounced halfway through the season. Still, we’re already thinking deeply about this crew — and looking forward to making fun of them in IM conversations a few months hence.
‘Top Chef’ Chicago Premieres in March [Bravo press release]
Related: Adam Platt Was Right About ‘Top Chef’ All Along
Nicole Kaplan Leaves Del Posto
Major developments on the pastry front: Del Posto’s head pastry chef, Nicole Kaplan, who soared to fame as the chef at Eleven Madison Park (and, incidentally, as the creator of the Shake Shack’s custard), has left the restaurant. We had heard that it was to head the dessert program at the St. Regis Hotel or, possibly, one of its restaurants, but the hotel denies this. (We’re still trying to reach Kaplan.) Del Posto GM Alfredo Ruiz confirms that Kaplan has been gone since January 1, but that her full staff is still in place and doing her menu as before. Co-owner Joe Bastianich says, “The split was amicable, and we wish Nicole nothing but the best in everything she does.” Bastianich added that the restaurant is looking at a couple of people and that, when the hire does happen, it will be “big news.”
Engines of Gastronomy
Jean Georges’ CVap Oven Is ‘Better Than the Bag’
Jean Georges isn’t a restaurant known for its attachment to experimental cuisine; if anything, J-G Vongerichten’s highly formal flagship is considered a bastion of old-school tablecloth dining. But Vongerichten has always been in the gastronomic vanguard, and he and chef de cuisine Mark Lapico are among the city’s most ardent admirers of the CVap oven, a controlled-humidity technology they use so much that there’s three of them in the kitchen.
More Sex From Gael Greene; TKettle’s Veggie DumplingsGael Greene returns to her sexy-tables topic after an influx of reader mail: “Several romantics agreed with Francesco that ‘Jean Georges at lunch could not be more sexy.’” A reformed Madame Bovary concluded: “It was a lot of bang for the buck.” [Insatiable Critic]
Even the Brits are buzzing over the prospect of Charlie Trotter opening a restaurant overlooking Madison Square Park. [Caterer Search, UK]
Related: New York to Charlie Trotter: Bring It On!
This hefty roundup of book recommendations for foodies includes such Grub-approved picks as the Food Snob’s Dictionary and My Last Supper (where you can see Wylie Dufesne lounging like Lady Godiva, but with cheese). [Zagat]
Related: Meet the Original Food Snobs
David Kamp Brings Aid to Would-Be Food Snobs
Eating the Last Supper
Click and Save
Gael Greene’s Secrets of Restaurant SeductionIf there’s one thing you can count on Gael Greene to deliver, it’s tales of seduction by food — and her latest post has it in spades. This time, it’s from the male point of view, as Gael offers a “service feature on seduction,” courtesy of her friend Francesco, “the teflon Romeo, in and out of love constantly, an outright chauvinist pig, in fact, but as a pal, really fun, full of zest and unfailingly loyal.” Francesco’s advice includes the following helpful tips:
Back of the House
Need Your Fix of Johnny Iuzzini News? You’re in Luck!After we had some sport with Johnny Iuzzini earlier this week, the dessert master was pretty steamed — he even asked us to take him off our list. No problem, but wouldn’t you have thought we would be off his? Not so! Yesterday brought us our long-awaited issue of “See What’s Up With Johnny,” the official Johnny Iuzzini newsletter. “As usual, Johnny has been receiving quite a lot of buzz,” it assured us, going on to quote Grub Street as calling the tattooed wunderkind “the most influential dessert chef working today.”
Back of the House
Johnny Iuzzini’s Plea: Elect Me Sexiest Chef!We were still trying to make up our mind whether the Daily News’ “New York’s Sexiest Chef” contest was for real or not, when we got an e-mail blast from nominee Johnny Iuzzini, last seen wearing a meringue body stocking on his stylish Website. It read: “Check out todays ny daily news- get a hard copy. Register to see all the chefs and pics and vote!!!!”
Day of the Dead in Midtown; Smoked Fish and Bagels Almost Ready to Eat inBoerum Hill: Now that Trout has taken over Gravy, the new menu is not surprisingly chock-full of fish dishes. [Bergen Carroll]
Midtown East: Richard Sandoval’s restaurants including Pampano are celebrating Day of the Dead through November 2 with specialty foods like pan de muertos, which is a sweet bread that’s baked to look like a skull! [Grub Street]
Midtown West: At convivial spot La Bonne Soup, which has been a French staple on West 55th Street since 1974, you can have a soup, salad, bread, dessert, and a glass of wine for $16.75, only slightly more than half the price of lunch at Jean Georges. [Lost City]
Nolita: D.J. Mark Ronson has designed a playlist specifically for Noble Food & Wine. Dinner gets it own soundtrack. [Down by the Hipster]
Tribeca: A Murray’s Bagel partner is opening Original Zucker’s Bagels & Smoked Fish on Chambers Street at the end of November. [NYS]
Upper West Side: The Triad Theater is now promoting a new musical called Wine Lover. The audience will sample six wines throughout the performance. [Snack]
Big Dreams for Chodorow’s Next Showstopper; Perv Attacking Women Outside the BoxCuozzo fantasizes about the possible successes Jeffrey Chodorow could develop if he signs a lease on the enormous space at Broadway and 63rd Street. They include stellar risotto, traditional dim sum, and haute Lebanese — if only he doesn’t “blow it on another howler like Rocco’s or a limping dud like Kobe Club.” [NYP]
A Queens dumpling celebrity, a chef in northern China before transplanting to the U.S., has been persuaded to supply her specialty to TKettle on St. Marks Place. Get there early, though; she’s only agreed to hand-make 1,000 per day for the bubble-tea shop. [Eat for Victory/VV]
Two young female patrons of the Box have been abducted from outside the club and raped on separate occasions in less than a month, and the predator has not been apprehended. [NYP]
Jean-Georges’s $40,000 Light Makes You Look Like a Million Bucks
When Jean-Georges Vongerichten retooled his namesake restaurant, his lighting designer Herve Descottes wanted, in his words, “to bring a little bit of attention to the center of the room” — and boy did he! The Frenchman spent six months and over $40,000 working with Seattle firm Neidhart Lighting to create a steel fixture that looks like a shitake mushroom and is also “a little bit sensual.” Each lamp is trimmed with reflective gold leaf. Three 35-watt halogen bulbs are controlled by a computer, with different settings for lunch, early dinner, and post–8 p.m., when the light is softest because there’s no competing sunlight. Installing the arms wasn’t exactly a breeze: “They were dancing a little bit,” says Descottes. It looks like they still are — but then maybe that’s just the Mouton buzz.
The Annotated Dish
Strawberry Dessert Quartet at Jean GeorgesJohnny Iuzzini of Jean Georges is one of the leading figures in the modern Dessert Revolution and arguably the most influential dessert chef working today. Typically, any meal at Jean Georges ends with one of four dessert tastings — four dishes united by a single theme. While summer strawberries last (likely another two or three weeks), this strawberry tasting will be available for both lunch and dinner. “The idea is to show how versatile strawberries are,” Iuzzini says. “There are so many ways to manipulate it and yet still maintain its integrity.” As always, mouse over the different desserts to hear them described in the chef’s own words.
What Do You Mean? We Love the Upper East Side!
Dear Grub Street,
The Upper West Side is teeming with activity, as is every other area of Manhattan, but I very rarely see anything on the Upper East Side. What have you got against the several hundred thousand people who live there and their restaurants and chefs?
— A reader with a valid gripe.
Back of the House
Sorry, Ladies: ‘Top Chef’ Non-Winner Tre Wilcox Will Not Seek Last night’s Top Chef claimed Tre Wilcox, the affable Texas chef and audience favorite. Acting as executive chef for Restaurant April, three of his dishes bombed and the judges reluctantly singled him out as the night’s loser. He spoke with us about his new female fans and why he thinks Hung will become this season’s Top Chef.
Immigrant Pickers Scant for Apple Season; Whole Foods–Wild Oats DealApples, apples everywhere, but not an immigrant to pick them, New York growers fear. [NYT]
A federal appeals court has postponed the Whole Foods-Wild Oats merger “arguing that it would reduce competition and increase prices in the marketplace for natural and organic foods.” And here, we thought “Project Goldmine” would benefit the customer. [NYT]
Let us weep for the carnies: trans fats have been banned in Indiana. State fairgoers ate deep-fried Snickers and Oreos cooked in “healthier” oils. [NYT]
Back of the House
‘Top Chef’ Non-Winner Lia on What Went Wrong
Lia Bardeen, the second New Yorker sent packing in as many weeks, was eliminated last night after the judges described her polenta dish as “mush” and “inedible.” After her elimination, she talked to us about the self-appointed villain of the show and why the kitchen at Jean Georges is more stressful than competing on Top Chef.
Hottest Club in the Hamptons Run by CheesemongersChelsea: Izakaya Ten now serves weekend brunch featuring shrimp-fried-rice omelettes, wasabi Bloody Marys, and “Chu-Hais” made with shochu and citrus juices. [NYS]
Southampton: The owners of a Murray Hill fondue parlor are behind the Hamptons’ hottest new club. [Down by the Hipster]
Lower East Side: Spitzer’s Corner, having been spurned by Sam Talbot, has finally gotten around to installing a chef: Le Bernardin veteran Michael Cooperman. [Restaurant Girl]
Union Square: Reserve a spot for Italian Wine Merchants’ Saturday wine tasting dedicated to women winemakers; Batali-approved antipasti are sure to be served. [Eat for Victory/VV]
Upper West Side: The ten-year-old dining room at Jean Georges will close for renovations August 20 through 28. [NYT]
Sam Mason Joins a Molecular Secret SocietyWelcome 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.
Kitchen Abuse Exposed; Health Department Shutdowns TripleApparently, abuse of every kind is rampant in kitchens. Herewith, complaints leveled against Daniel, Jean Georges, Megu, Babbo, and more. [NYP]
Post–KFC–Taco Bell scandal, New York restaurant closures triple. [NYP]
Morandi is, like every other Keith McNally venture, a smashing success, and likely to remain so. [NYP]
Gordon Ramsay Now Wants to Please YouIt’s no secret that Gordon Ramsay’s hasn’t exactly set New York on fire: As Adam Platt noted, his food is expensive and not very exciting. Ramsay must’ve been listening, because he’s introduced a prix fixe menu priced to rival the $28 lunch being offered at nearby Jean Georges.
Café Gray Loses Its LunchHow do you usually spend your lunches? If you’re anything like us, it’s hunched over your desk, scarfing down scrapple you brought from home in a Tupperware tub. Gone, in other words, are the glory days of the leisurely workweek lunch. And so this slow change has claimed another victim: Café Gray. After March 5, you’ll no longer be able to flex your expense account during the midday hours at what Platt calls “probably the most fun” of the “self-important” food-court establishments at Time Warner Center.
We Submit Ourselves to PrimeTime Tables
If you’ve read Eater in the past couple of weeks, you’ve heard of Primetimetables.com, a scalping-type service that gets you tough-to-score reservations for a flat fee. It’s true that the restaurant world could soon experience something similar to what’s happened on Broadway, where good seats at hot shows can go for as much as $500 – it’s simple market economics, and you don’t have to be a Marxist to see the downside. But it’s also true that $45 will get you a table at a top restaurant if you call that day before noon. Heady stuff. We thought we’d give it a whirl – see how well the system works, and just how dirty we felt afterward.
Back of the House
Sex Apparently Always on the Menu at New York RestaurantsUpon reading the jaw-dropping news this weekend of rampant sexual abuse at Jean Georges, we started scratching our heads. Just what has gotten into the restaurant business these days? When did the revels pass from frat-house frolics to full-blown Roman debauchery? Here’s a time line to help you understand.
Back of the House
Gay Waiter Literally Has It Shoved in His Face; Falai to Open More CasualJean Georges waiter claims to have been abused by the restaurant’s homophobic staff — including a forced after-hours lap dance. We might have expected this at Mercer Kitchen, but … [Newsday]
The Times considers the banana-cream pie as a Zeitgeist item, concludes that it unites the diverse population of Los Angeles. Also, it’s funny when people throw them. [NYT]
Iacopo Falai set to open Caffe Falai, a more casual version of his restaurant later this week. Get there while it’s still BYOB. [The Strong Buzz]
New York has better bars and restaurants than London, says English op-ed. And they’re just figuring this out now? [Telegraph]
Chinatown is the place to go for cheap, high-quality vegetables. Also, we would add, for cheap, high-quality fish, turtles, dumplings … [WNYC]
Cook and cashier brutally shot at Brooklyn’s Happy House Chinese restaurant. [NY1]
Whether to add other brands to your core business, or shed them: McDonald’s versus Red Lobster. True inside-baseball, but interesting. [Foodservice Blog]
Ms. Gobbler’s Turn: Her Favorite RestaurantsIn pale imitation of great gastronome scribblers like Calvin Trillin and the late Johnny Apple, the Gobbler has written, perhaps too often, about his wife’s taste in food and restaurants (just read his last review). Possibly also like them (the Gobbler doesn’t know Mr. Trillin, but he met Apple during his gruff, un-cuddly, pre-foodie days), the Gobbler is often accused by his wife of egregiously distorting her views (you bet he does). Ms. Gobbler would like the world to know that her most-used word is not “yummy,” that if given the choice, she’d prefer to eat at home, and that her favorite drink really is champagne. “Also, you always make me sound elfin,” she told the Gobbler just a moment ago, “and I am not elfin.” In a hasty (and desperate) attempt to clarify the record, I’ve asked Ms Gobbler to list her current favorite restaurants in town. It goes without saying that Mr. Gobbler approves of these fine establishments, too.
The Nine Steakhouse CommandmentsIn recent weeks, the Gobbler has found himself sitting night after night in a succession of new steakhouses, staring glumly at the mounting platters of T-bone and porterhouse along with thrombotic servings of greasy hash browns and au gratin potato. The Gobbler has nothing against these restaurants per se. He enjoys a good sizzling hunk of cow as much as the next fellow. But the presence of so many high-profile new ones on the landscape is an unsettling sign. Steakhouses don’t perish in times of trouble; they propagate. This fall, the city’s superstar chefs are away opening spinoffs in places like Vegas and Shanghai, and the buzz, to the extent there is any, is being created by aged revivals (like the Russian Tea Room), and new ventures by venerable out-of-towners (like L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon). Into this vacuum, invariably, rush more steakhouses. The recipe for the successful New York chophouse is precise, however, and you tinker with it at your peril. So here is the Gobbler’s list of random, highly subjective Steakhouse Commandments.
The Other Critics
New Mobil Ratings: Quixotic Attempt at Scientific ObjectivityGiven how much hubbub there was over the Michelin ratings, and how bad the guide actually was (as we recently noted here), we’re surprised we haven’t heard more reactions to Mobil’s quasi-scientific restaurant guide, the latest edition of which was just released. “We have created a very objective process of evaluating restaurants,” Shane O’Flaherty, Mobil’s vice-president of quality assurance and the man in charge of the restaurant ratings, tells us. “From that standpoint, we believe that it’s as accurate as you can get, anywhere you go.”
Only four New York restaurants received the top rank of five stars in the ratings released last week: Alain Ducasse, Per Se, Masa, and Jean Georges. (Le Bernardin, which won three Michelin stars, is conspicuously absent.) What separates a five-star restaurant from a four? O’Flaherty cited some startlingly specific examples from Mobil’s checklist.
Hunger Gala to Help Feed Recently Fired ChefPaul Liebrandt, the talented young chef recently handed the mitten at Gilt, will be back in action next Wednesday, cooking at the Action Against Hunger fall gala. Liebrandt, one of the few unemployed chefs in New York with his own Website, will be prepping the main course, chef Joe Murphy of Jean Georges will be doing the dessert, and Andy Gold of the Institute of Culinary Education is handling the appetizer. Though the focus, we admit, will probably be on the honorees, Susan Sarandon and Dr. Daniel Py, and the presenters, Christy Turlington and movie director Terry George. The event will be held at Capitale, the opulent former bank space where we so recently attended the Batali roast. We expect this to be far more dignified. And far more expensive.
World Food Day Gala, November 15, Capitale
Chefs Curse, Bless New Michelin Guide
At last night’s Bid Against Hunger, a benefit for restaurant charity group City Harvest, the champagne was flowing and the food was off the hook. But much of the event’s energy seemed to emanate from the chefs, who were abuzz over the announcement yesterday of the Michelin Guide’s new ratings. “Who knows what their inspectors are like?” asked one chef, who, fearing their wrath, refused to be quoted. “I don’t think they really get American restaurants.” The cooks who got some love from the red book were happy to talk. Eric Ripert of Le Bernardin, one of the city’s three three-star restaurants (Jean Georges and Per Se are the others), was visibly psyched. “It was great news! We were a little bit worried, you know? But we’re definitely going to celebrate later, at the restaurant. Definitely.” (Later, a dinner from Ripert was auctioned off for $24,000.) We asked Lever House chef Dan Silverman, an especially clear-eyed observer of the restaurant scene, what he thought about the ratings. Were they fair? “I’m good with them, obviously,” he said. “We kept our star.”
The Other Critics
Michelin’s Explosive New Red BookMichelin dropped its ratings bomb today, and it’s safe to say that the New York restaurant world is, as usual, reeling. Though not as consequential as a Zagat snub, business-wise, the Michelin ratings are closer to the hearts of top chefs. (French chef Bernard Loiseau was widely believed to have killed himself over a Michelin downgrade.) The book is supposed to be in stores tomorrow (though our local Barnes & Noble says it’s not even at the distributor yet). We do, however, know of some surprises. Messrs. Boulud, Bouley, and Takahama are no doubt having lousy afternoons.
The Other Critics
Bruni and Richman Beat Down Old-TimersThis week, the big boys decided to tip some sacred cows.
• Alan Richman, battling Peter Luger, delivers what might be the most damning takedown of a major New York restaurant since his famous indictment of Jean Georges in GQ. Sundry are the crimes of this tavern: It has “lost touch with the concept of restaurant hospitality”; deploys cheap flatware and snarling waiters; serves inconsistent steak, mundane sides, and a “hostile burger.” [Bloomberg]