Starchefs plugs big-name chefs as often as Heinz bottles ketchup, so you'll find all the top toques in their new guidebook, Chefs to Know. Aimed at aspiring kitchen lackeys, the book is fun for civilian perusal as well, if only for the “offbeat restaurants,” favorite kitchen tools, and, best of all, their go-to job interview question.
Ed Levine raises some points about Michelin today in what will no doubt be the first of many arguments and think pieces on the subject. There won’t be much debate, though, on the larger question about Michelin: Nearly everybody we know agrees that the book sucks. Unlike its French original, whose authority was well earned and absolute, and based on an army of incorruptible gourmands, the New York book seems more like the product of two Short Hills foodies passing the time on a red-eye airline flight. We haven’t seen the book itself, so we can’t say if the prose will be as insipid and amateurish as last year’s, which was straight from the South Bend Pennysaver, but we think we might get why Michelin is so weirdly arbitrary, a “combination of the Edsel and the Yugo” in Levine’s words.
How does Ania Zawieja describe her job as a sommelier? “I drink a lot and try to remember.” Rather than attending sommelier school, Zaweija got her start at a Philadelphia wine bar that rotated its 120 glasses every week. She eventually went on to help open Café Gray, then the Modern, and finally — after the food-and-beverage director of Joël Robuchon’s then-soon-to-open New York outpost dined at the Modern and succeeded in luring her away — she ended up at L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon. Since female sommeliers have lately been a subject of some controversy, we asked her to uncork the particulars of her job.
“Bottled or tap?” is an annoying enough question (we love our local H2O, critics be damned), but come August, when Evian’s “luxury bottle” graces restaurants like Daniel, Le Bernardin, and L’Atelier, the question will be “tap, bottled, or really pretentiously bottled?” As elaborated in a training video (that’s right — Daniel Vrod, server of presidents, will soon learn how to pour water), the swanky Palace bottle is presented as if it were a bottle of champers and delivered to your glass using custom coasters and a ceremonial pourer. Question is, will there be a sexy delivery device for the suggested $5 to $8 that will flow out of your wallet for this?
Dear Grub Street, I am e-mailing you in a last, desperate attempt to find information about brunch at L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon. The Web boasts scores of reviews on the dinner menu, but I find not one mention of the merit of brunch, a menu, nothing. Cara Gouldey
Jeffrey Chodorow is opening a restaurant with Tom Valenti right next to his new restaurant with Zak Pelaccio; also, a new Rickshaw will open in the Village. [Eater]
Related: Chodorow and Pelaccio Planning a ‘Malaysian Coffeehouse’ [Grub Street]
We’re in the middle of a rum renaissance, with “heavy, thick and funky” British varieties and “smooth and sugary” Spanish-Caribbean ones. [NYDN]
Jay-Z’s 40/40 Club defends itself against charges of unfair labor practices: “Everyone makes the minimum wage at the club.” [NYDN]
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.
According to a revealing new profile by Heat author Bill Buford, Gordon Ramsay isn’t a bad guy, “but he does get angry, helplessly and uncontrollably angry — not an earthly anger but something darker — and has trouble knowing how to stop.” [NYer]
State legislator proposes an A through F system of grading restaurant hygiene, but the Department of Health is against it. [amNY]
A Staten Island pizzeria beats out a field of 65 from six countries to win the 23rd International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas. It’s Denino’s, right? Joe and Pat’s? No. It’s Goodfella’s Brick Oven Pizza. [NYDN]