The Wall Street Journal’s Huge Resolutions List: Just the Chefs

Guess who's looking for a domestic soy sauce producer?
Guess who’s looking for a domestic soy sauce producer? Photo: Clockwise from top left: Slaven Vlasic, Toby Canham, Jason Kempin, Riccardo Savi, all Getty Images

Today the Journal asks just about everyone in the world what their New Year’s resolutions are. (Slash wants to make more solo music; Louis C.K. wants to borrow a camera from Peter Jackson; Takashi Murakami is looking for “an enlightenment.”) But here at Grub Street, we’re really only interested in what chefs are hoping to achieve. (Sorry, Slash!) Lucky for us, the paper asked a bunch of them, too! Let’s see what they have to say.

David Chang, chef and owner of Manhattan’s Momofuku restaurants
To find domestic purveyors of soy sauce, miso and sake, or produce it ourselves. It would create not only jobs but would allow us to be less dependent on importing and create a new business for our restaurant group.

We’re trying to find a new meat for the pork bun. Currently it’s pork belly — we probably sell thousands a week. You become so reliant on it, you don’t innovate — it becomes a crutch. We’re trying to use the leg, but it’s not as fatty and luscious.

Grant Achatz, chef and co-owner of Alinea
We’re opening two new projects, a restaurant called Next and a cocktail lounge, Aviary. Next is a restaurant that changes every quarter. When we open, target date March, it’s going to be Escoffier, Paris, 1906. The concept is that three months later you select a different city in the world and a date and a time.

Thomas Keller, chef; his restaurants include the French Laundry in California
I want to learn how to fly. There’s an airport just 15 minutes from the French Laundry in Napa and I’m going to take lessons. I’ve heard it can take as little as six months.

Jacques Pépin, television host, cookbook author
My business partner is my wife. What she wants me to do is to be home more, relax, to go play bocce ball in a competition on Amelia Island. I have a literary agent who wants me to finish another book, called “À La Minute,” about the quick cooking we do in restaurants. I’m not that far in — I have tons and tons of notes.

Rachael Ray
I want to become a better horseback rider. Whenever I go on vacation, which is rare, you have the 8-year-old-on-a-pony ride, or you go with the really proficient riders and you’re risking certain death if you don’t know what you’re doing. I’ve been on enough certain-death rides to feel I must get a handle on it. I’m done with the pony rides.

René Redzepi, chef and owner of Noma in Copenhagen
The ultimate goal is to cook without reference, where everything on the plate belongs only there, from that place and that set of brains, with no reference point to where the person worked before. [To achieve that goal] I hired a head chef for the first time ever, because I want to have more time to spend in our workshop. Not having to chop the onion or write the schedule will let me spend more time on developing.

Alvin Leung, owner of the Michelin-starred restaurant Bo Innovation in Hong Kong
I’ve got to re-evaluate the whole year and see what I can improve on. What particular dishes were left uneaten or have we had complaints on? What were the complaints on blogs? The menu could reflect more interest in Hong Kong products. Now I’m specializing in extreme Chinese [reducing the number of dishes that are takeoffs from French and Italian]. I was messing around with dishes that did not point closely enough to Hong Kong. I was too molecular. This year, I’ll start to hire real Chinese chefs so I can learn from them and develop my menu based on their skills.

And with that, we’re going to make our own resolution! To stop blogging, at least until Monday, when we’ll see you all back here. BE SAFE OUT THERE TONIGHT.

Cultural Resolutions [WSJ]

The Wall Street Journal’s Huge Resolutions List: Just the Chefs