New York Chefs Confront Rising Food Costs With Whip and ChairFood costs go up and up, but prices — especially high ones — aren’t supposed to. Given that the rent in most New York restaurants isn’t going to come down anytime soon, this creates a problem for owners. The Wall Street Journal did an excellent feature on this subject on Saturday, showing how some restaurants were dealing with it — Blue Water Grill’s selling beef trimmings as part of a chipotle roll, for example, or Ssäm Bar’s dropping truffles. But we were curious about how some of the other chefs we know, particularly those with a well-heeled clientele, are making do. So we asked around, and here’s what we heard.
Ask a Waiter
Winston Gitonga Serves Takeout to Britney, Discourages Buddha Climbers at Tao
A couple of years after he started working at Tao in 2003, Winston Gitonga and two colleagues founded Shiftdrink, a Website with insider information on restaurant working conditions written by and for industry professionals. When he’s not running his Website (now up to 2,800 members), Gitonga is flashing his wedding ring and keeping customers from climbing the Buddha at Tao.
Inside the Greenmarket With Produce Master Bill Telepan
Few chefs are better known for their devotion to seasonal vegetables than Bill Telepan; his eponymous Upper West Side restaurant is one of the city’s foremost temples of Haute Barnyard. Here Telepan guides us through the springtime Greenmarket while offering up tips and opinions.
Related: Manhattan Gets Fresh [NYM]
Back of the House
Telepan, Too, Faces Labor StrifeSpeaking of labor troubles, Bill Telepan seems to be the latest chef-owner to have them on his hands. NY1 reports that workers at Telepan, his Upper West Side Haute Barnyard restaurant, are incensed at management’s taking big chunks of their tips. “They’re actually stealing from what their employees are making,” a former waitress is quoted as saying. Telepan, reached by phone, denies the charges but says he’s not ready to go on the record yet with any details.
Telepan Under Fire for Tipping Managers [NY1 via Eater]
Earlier: The Heartening Backstory of the Deliveryman Rebellion
I Will Lose the Love of My Family Without Creamed Chipped BeefDear Grub Street, Please help me find a restaurant that serves creamed chipped beef for brunch. My friends and relatives from Philly refuse to visit unless I have one lined up. (I personally do not eat creamed chipped beef — it’s way too scary-looking.)K.M.
Back of the House
Restaurants Not Feeling the Love Last Night; Menu Secrets Kept From RiffraffA brutal Valentine’s Day for New York restaurants, battered by cancellations owing to the lousy weather. [WCBS]
Many of the city’s best restaurants have off-the-menu specials: foie gras donuts at Telepan, Daniel Boulud’s lobster ravioli at Le Cirque, and more, all revealed here. [Restaurant Girl]
Chocolate, of all things, turns out to be New York’s No. 1 specialty-food export — if you eat it on the East Coast, chances are it came from here. Food processing is “by far the most stable major manufacturing sector” in the city, and one of the last. [NYT]
Where to Eat 2007: The Lazy Man’s GuideWhere to Eat 2007, Adam Platt’s panoramic look at the New York restaurant scene, is a lot to digest (ahem) — thousands of words on the city’s best foods, high and low, from the big-box extravaganzas that constitute “Vegas on the Hudson” to the fetishized beef slabs that are “Designer Steaks.” As much as we enjoyed the essays, though, it’s the blurby lists, of course, that we went to first. Here are some highlights.
The Haute Barnyard Hall of FameNew York magazine restaurant critic Adam Platt files periodic musings for Grub Street, under the pseudonym the Gobbler.
Haute Barnyard restaurants like the Tasting Room have been around for a while now, but the phrase is new — so new, in fact, that the Gobbler is the only one using it. Therefore it requires a little elaboration. All Haute Barnyard restaurants are Greenmarket establishments, of course, their menus more or less dictated by the rhythms of the season. New York’s versions of the genre, however, have evolved their own highly self-conscious style.
Meet Pawpaw for Dinner Tonight at SavoyThere are some southern specialties all the world loves, as our guide to local gulf-shrimp dishes makes clear. But some of these regional foods rarely make it past the Mason-Dixon line. Tonight, New Yorkers get the chance to sample an obscure treat: pawpaw, a large, tasty fruit, used in a variety of dishes. Savoy is hosting the second annual Betsy Lydon Slow Food Ark USA Award dinner. (Appropriately enough, the name’s a real mouthful.) Southern preparations like rabbit burgoo and Kentucky ham will complement pawpaw daiquiris and ice cream, as well as other recipes made with North America’s native tropical fruits. (The dinner, which costs $150, including tax and tip, starts at 6:30 p.m.)
In honor of the pawpaw, here’s our list of five of the most delicious southern foods you’ll find in New York.