Joël Robuchon Dislikes Blogs and Fancy DishesEater L.A. posted an interesting interview with Joël Robuchon yesterday afternoon, conducted by Las Vegas public-radio host John Curtas, one of that city’s top food journalists. Of special note is Robuchon’s predictably hostile stance toward food bloggers (“Too often the Internet can be used as revenge tool by people who have something against the chef or restaurant”). Like, say, paying $800 for a disappointing lunch? Robuchon also weighs in on what he considers “the most dangerous thing you can do as a chef”: overthinking and trying too hard to impress customers. (Which, again, you have to do if you’re going to charge the cost of airfare to China for lunch.) In any case, it’s a good, and short, read. Maybe too short: Is Curtas saving the outtakes for his radio show?
Joël Robuchon and the Dangers of the Foodblogging Age [Eater L.A.]
Alan Richman Confirmed Out at Bloomberg
Alan Richman is out at Bloomberg, reports say. A tipster reported as much to Gawker over the weekend, and Eater currently is citing “reliable info” that the critic left on his own, rather than getting fired. Our own source on the subject, a figure close to the center of the situation, confirms for us that Richman is no longer reviewing for Bloomberg. As much as we admire Richman’s work, we weren’t entirely surprised: Richman had evidenced tablecloth fatigue over the last few years, and had been at the reviewing grind much longer than any of his current peers. According to Eater, Peter Eliot will replace Richman in the weeks before a permanent replacement is named. More on the story (and our source says there is more to the story) as we hear it.
EaterWire AM Edition: Alan Richman Out at Bloomberg [Eater]
The State of the (Momofuku) UnionNews on Eater about the Momofuku empire suggests that there’s been a shake-up. In a letter, David Chang announces that Peter Serpico is the new chef at Momofuku Ko and goes on to mention that “Tien, Kev, Scott and Serpico” will be running the show. As for Joaquin Baca, formerly Chang’s co-chef and the Trotsky of the Momofuku empire? He’s not in on this one, instead “working on his own concepts.” Huh. We had heard that there was friction between the two, but we didn’t expect Quino to be uninvolved with Ko altogether.
From The Desk of Dave Chang: Peter Serpico Named Chef at Momofuku Ko, More Changes at the Momo Empire [Eater]
Update: David Chang called us to clarify what he says was our complete misunderstanding of his statement on Eater. While Quino is going to pursue his own concepts, Chang says, and
won’t be involved in the day-to-day running of the restaurant, “he’s still a co-owner of all the restaurants, will still be helping out, and is very much a part of the Momofuku team. We’re
family, friends, and brothers forever. Quino will always be involved.”
128 Billiards Becomes Tropical 128: What a Difference a New Sign Makes
The guys at Thrillist outed a favorite spot of ours today — Tropical 128 — and to make matters worse for those of us who wanted to keep it a secret between us and the Chinatown pool sharks, they hype the place like it was just remodeled to acquire its over-the-top tropical décor (causing Eater to call it an “opening”). Sorry, dudes, those fake trees have been there forever.
DOH Violations Might Not Have Been Pioneer’s Deepest, Darkest SecretWhen we read Eater’s headline “Live From Red Hook: Pioneer Bar’s Dirty Little Secret,” we nearly spit out our spiked coffee, worrying that the general public had finally gotten wise to the fact that the place — shuttered since late June after a DOH violation and now under new ownership — routinely did the “lock-in” thing, along with at least a couple of other bars in Red Hook (hence the time a friend almost convinced us to sneak onto the Queen Elizabeth 2 before sunup). But no, the “secret” (readily apparent on the Department of Health’s page) is that the bar racked up a ton of health-code violations. Now that the place is owned by the parents of a 5-year-old, we doubt the after-hours tradition will live on when it reopens next year, and the fact that actual policing authorities exist in the Hook (the first we had heard of the law making it down there) makes us nervous that we’re going to lose the rest of our favorite after-hours spots, and we’ll have to quit drinking at 4 a.m. like every other chump. Perhaps a 6 a.m. live-blogging session is in order … before it’s too late.
Related, and Inspired by: The Embers of Gentrification [NYM]
Goldfarb Pooh-Poohs Doubts of Picnick’s Success
How has the opening of Picnick been going? Some Goldfarbian skeptics might say not so well. Writers to Eater have detailed their disappointments in graphic terms (“There was a bone in my pork. Ow.”), and now one of our correspondents writes in to ask, “What’s with Picnick? It was open for Labor Day and a couple days after, but now it seems to always be closed? Is there an official date for a re-opening?”
Eater, Everyone Else Hot for Sam TalbotEater today announced a “Win a Date With Sam Talbot,” contest, posting some smokin’ photos of Hot Chef Sam Talbot taken for a charity event, the Glad Steamiest Chef Contest. (Grub Street’s pal Aaron Sanchez is also one of the steamy nominees.) The Eater-sponsored date is not sanctioned by Talbot, but editor Ben Leventhal thinks he can convince Talbot to participate with “a hot photo and the right cover letter.” But is the whole exercise just an excuse for Leventhal to proclaim is his man-crush on Talbot from the rooftops of the Internet?
Restaurant Girl News Makes Commenters DishYesterday’s Eater news of the installation Danyelle “Restaurant Girl” Freeman as the Daily News’ new restaurant critic unleashed a torrent of snarky hostility on the site’s message boards. Sadly, the comments were infinitely more entertaining than anything the victuals vixen is likely to write in the paper. A few choice selections are after the jump.
A Rescue Plan for Restaurant Workers; No Fatty Crab for the UWSThe Restaurant Responsibility Act, just introduced in City Council, would keep eateries from abusing the help by tying operating permits to labor laws. [Gotham Gazette]
Fatty Crab owner writes in to say that Eater has it all wrong about an Upper West Side location. [Eater]
It’s salmon season in Alaska’s Copper River, and some of the city’s top fish cooks are spawning original dishes to take advantage. [NYDN]
McNally Takes a Cheap Shot at BruniIn yet another retributive strike by a restaurateur against Frank Bruni (Jeffrey Chodorow’s much-discussed broadside being the first), Morandi owner Keith McNally has planted a letter with Eater accusing the Times critic of being biased against woman chefs. “Bruni had never given a female chef in Manhattan anything more than one star, ever,” McNally writes. The complaint goes on for a long time and seems unlike McNally, who has almost always stayed above the fray. What’s especially unseemly is the way the letter dwells on Bruni’s attitude toward gender (“…when the chef is a man Bruni often makes quite a song and dance about it.”) Given the amount of food-world speculation about Bruni’s sexual orientation, this seems like a low blow, especially since the Times’ review echoed a near-universal critical consensus about Morandi. Times dining editor Pete Wells, asked to comment about the letter, agrees, saying simply, “Frank’s review speaks for itself. Period.”
Keith McNally: Bruni Has ‘Unremittingly Sexist Slant’ [Eater]
Back of the House
The Death of Paid Reservations?As Eater reported, Weekend Epicure seems to be a scam (we’ve heard the same), and now both Danny Meyer and Keith McNally are on to PrimeTime Tables and the telltale ways in which they call in for the spots they then sell. Is this it for the reservation biz? PTT will surely change up their methods, and we’re guessing that other restaurateurs won’t be quite so aggressive as long as their tables are filled. But blame it on karma or the plain hard realities of business, just know that a seat you buy might not be a seat you actually get.
Commence Resy Scalper Retreat: McNally, Meyer onto Primetime Tables [Eater]
Earlier: Soon You Will Have to Pay for All Your Reservations
Back of the House
Danny Meyer May Not Be So Down on New Restaurants After AllEater is reporting that Danny Meyer is preparing to start building a new restaurant at 100 Eleventh Avenue in West Chelsea, to be opened sometime in 2009. If true, color us unsurprised! When Danny Meyer tells you in an interview that “I haven’t opened a new restaurant since 2004. I just want to keep getting more deeply into the ones I do have right now,” take it with a grain of fleur de sel. You don’t get a world-class restaurant empire by showing your cards to everybody who asks.
Update: The hospitality king is sticking to his story: “This is not a deal I even knew we were contemplating,” Meyer tells us. “It’s unbelievable! I have a partner whose full-time job consists of looking for these projects, and this is not something I even remember us having a lengthy conversation about.”
West Chelsea Slated to Get a Danny Meyer Restaurant [Eater]
Earlier: Danny Meyer on Shake Shack 2.0
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 Chef Has Tomorrow (and the Next Day, and Day After That…) OffGordon Ramsay at the London chef de cuisine Neil Ferguson — basically, the guy running the kitchen — has apparently been canned. According to our source, as well as Eater, the staff was informed last night.
Ramsay Dismisses Neil Ferguson [Eater]
Update: Representatives confirm the move, saying that Ramsay veteran Josh Emett has taken over, with Ferguson returning to London to “focus on upcoming projects for Gordon Ramsay Holdings.”
Lonesome Dove Flies AwayWe knew it had to happen, but we’re still filled with sadness and regret: Tim Love’s critically unloved restaurant Lonesome Dove has bitten the dust. We remember fleeting good times: annotating the Tomahawk Chop, busting the chef’s chops … surely there are others we’re forgetting. The Fort Worth flagship is still going strong — drop on in there sometime, y’hear?
Deathwatching: Lonesome Dove SHUTTERED [Eater]
Back of the House
Russian Tea Room Fires Gary Robins, and Robins Fires BackWhen a restaurant gets off to a shaky start the way the Russian Tea Room has, a high-priced chef is often the first to go. And sure enough, after running into trouble — which became apparent early on, when we noted a less “than a quarter-capacity crowd at 9 p.m. on Saturday night” — the Tea Room has just given chef Gary Robins his walking papers. But Robins didn’t take his dismissal lying down, giving the Eater boys a detailed insider’s account of the near-chaos engulfing the place — not to mention a long passage from an e-mail he wrote to owner Hasan Biberaj, calling his behavior “deceitful and wrong.”
Robins on Russian Tea Room: ‘Opened Without Being Ready, Understaffed in All Areas’ [Eater]
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.
Zak Pelaccio Opening New Restaurant — in LondonWe were as surprised as all get-out to hear via Eater that Zak Pelaccio and Jeffrey Chodorow are planning to take Fatty Crab national. So we called Pelaccio: “It’s simply inaccurate,” the chef tells us. “I don’t know where Eater gets their info, but it’s not from me nor any of my business partners.” Fine — we Web types sometimes get the wrong information. But then, Pelaccio delivered a real bit of news: He’ll be taking over Alain Ducasse’s Spoon (owned by Jeffrey Chodorow) in the Sanderson Hotel in London and launching a Malaysian restaurant as consulting chef. “But that has nothing to do with Fatty Crab or even America,” he adds. But it has everything to do with a local guy making good.
EaterWire: Ramsay Lands, Drops Two-Hour Time Limit, Boxer’s Loses Their Lease, Fatty Crab Goes National! [Eater]
Back of the House
Iron Sous-Chef Busts a Move; A Man Tells of His Meatballs, Liquor License• Bruni dropped in on a restaurant wearing a fanny pack and riding a scooter? No wonder he needed some R&R. [Eater]
• davidburke & donatella gets a new chef de cuisine (Eric Hara, doing bacon-wrapped duck) and pastry chef (Monica Bellissimo, standing by her egg cream in an eggshell). [NYO]
• Some October-November openings via ZagatWire: The former Tocqueville space is turning Japanese; Anne Burrell, sous-chef to Batali on Iron Chef, takes over the kitchen at Centro Vinoteca. [Zagat]
• John LaFemina of Ápizz and the Orchard recounts the joy of applying for a liquor license in an excerpt from the forthcoming A Man and His Meatballs. [Eater]