The Cost of Charity, ExplainedA month doesn’t seem to go by without some kind of charity benefit, at which every chef you’ve ever heard gives away his time and food. Besides the warm feeling of do-goodery, what do the chefs get out of it? Michael Ruhlman had a feature on the subject in this week’s Times magazine, and the answers are interesting: Danny Meyer explains charity efficiency (“It may cost me $30,000 or $40,000 to close down a restaurant for a night, but if an organization can pull in a quarter of a million dollars, what a great investment, relative to giving a $200 gift certificate that somebody buys for $225”), and Aaron Sanchez gives a frank reason for doing all these events (“I get to catch up with my friends who are chefs”). Ruhlman cites Wolfgang Puck as the “originator of the chef-driven benefit” back in 1982. As a chef’s profile rises, so does his ability to milk beneficial bucks from not only donors but also potential future customers.
Friends With Benefits [NYT]
Back of the House
Golden Clog Nominees Announced to Industry’s Amusement, Dismay
Tony Bourdain and Michael Ruhlmann, the scourges of the restaurant business, are at it again. The pair’s facetious awards, the Golden Clogs, will be given away this Friday at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival. We speculated last fall about who the possible nominees might be, but Bourdain’s complete list — with commentary — is on Eater. Some of our favorites are below.
Back of the House
Who Will Win the Golden Clog?Culinary writer and BFF to the stars Michael Ruhlman has announced the Golden Clog awards, a new unofficial contest, with multiple chef categories. The winners will be announced, no doubt with much facetious fanfare, at this year’s South Beach Food & Wine Festival. The categories are as follows:
FERGUS AWARD — for best achievement in offal.
ALTON AWARD — for the food personality who can actually cook.
MARIO AWARD — for the chef-restaurateur who best multitasked, merchandised, multiplatformed and generally whored himself yet still continued to make significant and valuable contributions to the restaurant landscape.
ROCCO AWARD — for worst career move by a talented chef.
CHEF’S CHEF AWARD — for the least heralded yet most deserving working chef.
Ruhlman Blasts Beards; Waverly Inn Impedes AmbulancesMichael 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]
Bourdain Body-Slams the Food Network AwardsSome highlights of Tony Bourdain’s lively excoriation of last night’s Food Network Awards, just posted on Ruhlman:
“Okay … so some brain dead douche bags from Ad Sales and ‘creative’ got together and cooked up this hybrid, fur-bearing catfish of a beast, this jackalope of a High Concept. Fine. That’s what they do. But who green lit this monstrosity?”
“The production itself — above and beyond the witless, ill-considered, just-plain stupid “concept” of an Awards show where most of the awards’ went to inanimate objects (accepting the award for Best Comfort Food is … Macaroni and Cheese!!), appliances or cities (Portland’s mayor wisely did not bother to show), — the production values — were lower than whale shit.”
“Did the network, upon realizing (as they surely did) that the whole thing was a hideous, stultifyingly boring cluster fuck — and a public slap to their talent — did they consider maybe having the good taste to just bury the whole thing in archives like a rotten bone? They reportedly had no trouble burying the Ripert and the Ramsay episodes of the excellent, critically acclaimed My Country My Kitchen. Have they no decency?
There’s a famous story where Robert Mitchum walks into studio head David O Selznick’s office, pulls down his pants and takes a crap on his white carpet. I hope Emeril is pinching a loaf right now.”
But honestly, Mr. Bourdain, what did you think of the program?
The Fabulous Food Network Awards!! [Ruhlman]
Pelaccio Opens in London; Hotel Gansevoort BoycottedZak Pelaccio’s new London restaurant (first announced here) finally opens and issues a press release with a menu. [Snack]
In a recent post, we called Michael Ruhlman a mandarin and critiqued his hauteur. Count us wrong on both counts: This response, titled “Grub Street Wankers,” and the vitriol that follows in the comment section, isn’t exactly high-minded. [Ruhlman]
Related: In Defense of Rachael Ray and the Food Network [Grub Street]
The big billboards erected on Hudson Street by the Hotel Gansevoort are so ugly that Pastis’ Keith McNally and 5 Ninth’s Joel Michel are refusing to take hotel reservations in protest. [NYP]
In Defense of Rachael Ray and the Food NetworkAnthony Bourdain’s smackdown of the Food Network stars on Michael Ruhlman’s blog — in which the chef calls Sandra Lee “pure evil” and Paula Deen and drag queen Divine lookalikes, among other things — caused quite a stir the other day. Readers cheered Tony, and jumped on the Food Network with both feet. “But will the Food Network listen? Not likely,” Ruhlman lamented in a follow-up post. To him, the reason is obvious: Americans (other than his readers) are sheeple, shuffling Philistines who celebrate Rocco DiSpirito and Rocco Siffredi alike. “America is a mediocrity factory, and the Food Network is no different from any other business trafficking in cheap goods,” Ruhlman sighs. As opposed to trafficking in cheap shots — that’s Ruhlman’s specialty.