What Goes on Behind Momofuku Ko’s Closed DoorsWhile you wait with extremely bated breath for the Ko reservation Website to go live (don’t go thinking the general public is going to eat in there anytime before Wednesday), a snapshot of what was going on behind the heavily armored doors, at least for a brief moment last night: Occupying some of the fourteen precious seats were New York’s “sexiest chef” Johnny Iuzzini (and date), Shorty’s.32 star Josh Eden (and date), and former Bloomberg critic and current current GQ blogger Alan Richman with Time Out New York food editor Gabriella Gershenson (presumably not on a date). Every other minute, a curious passerby outside would stop and press his nose against the exterior’s ornate metalwork and just awkwardly peer inside for 30 seconds, trying his hardest to see something through the obscured windows. It was pure shamelessness, New Yorkers gawking like tourists, but who could blame them? The place looks like a dungeon from the outside. And all that attention no doubt made the lucky few on the inside feel all the more special, like prized little angelfish in Chang’s velvet aquarium. —Jessica Coen
Nicole Kaplan Leaves Del Posto
Major developments on the pastry front: Del Posto’s head pastry chef, Nicole Kaplan, who soared to fame as the chef at Eleven Madison Park (and, incidentally, as the creator of the Shake Shack’s custard), has left the restaurant. We had heard that it was to head the dessert program at the St. Regis Hotel or, possibly, one of its restaurants, but the hotel denies this. (We’re still trying to reach Kaplan.) Del Posto GM Alfredo Ruiz confirms that Kaplan has been gone since January 1, but that her full staff is still in place and doing her menu as before. Co-owner Joe Bastianich says, “The split was amicable, and we wish Nicole nothing but the best in everything she does.” Bastianich added that the restaurant is looking at a couple of people and that, when the hire does happen, it will be “big news.”
Back of the House
Facebook Brings Chefs Closer TogetherWe dedicate a lot of our time to obsessing over the restaurant industry’s heavy hitters: Gordo, Mario, Fabio. But what about the bright young things who slave away in the shadows of the line? No doubt many of them will be destined for big things, and surely they’re dreaming of the days when they’ll have an empire and a single moniker ending in “o.” So who’s keeping an eye on them? After hours of prowling around Facebook, we can now enthusiastically assert that we are. We combed through the social-networking site, finding dozens of profiles and pulling the most useful for your reference. Who’s the sous-chef with a dislike of olives and fake tits? Which pastry extern is friends with New York’s Sexiest Chef? And why are so many Per Se–ers on the site? Does Thomas Keller make it a staff requirement or something?–Alexandra Vallis
Pastry Royalty Performs at SweetThe city’s top dessert chefs, from Johnny Iuzzini on down, delighted deep-pocketed foodies with their signature confections at Sweet on Friday night. Evian and Ferro Rocher flexed their marketing muscle, dispatching well-formed young people in tight clothes to represent their not especially sexy brands. The pastry aristocracy (Goldfarb, Iuzzini, and Stupak) were all present and accounted for, standing proudly behind space-age-looking creations that tasted even better than they looked. (Only Sam Mason wasn’t around, as someone had to man the stoves at Tailor.) At first we were sort of alarmed: There were obviously many more guests than had originally been intended, for the long, narrow, space, but since cake isn’t combustible, it all seemed safe enough. A body can only take so much chocolate ganache, Champagne, and high-powered pastry cooks crammed into one hall.
Rocky Sullivan’s Turns Its Back on Red Hook; Lamb Sliders Come to BrooklynFort Greene: A Moroccan restaurant is on the way to DeKalb Avenue, and with it the lamb sliders Brooklynites have been waiting for. [VV]
Lower East Side: Food-science guru Dave Arnold of FCI is planning a drinks and desserts venue with none other than Sexiest Chef Johnny Zs. A used centrifuge is already part of the plan. [Mouthing Off/Food and Wine] Inoteca is staying in the game thanks to some new tasting menus. [Bottomless Dish/Citysearch]
Red Hook: Rocky Sullivan’s has mortally offended Red Hook by not serving Six Point beer, despite being literally next door to the brewery. [Eater]
Sunnyside: Pork biscuits at the Euro Shop are off the hook. Who cares if they are unpronounceable? [Gothamist]
Goldfarb Will Make Your Saturday; 1OAK Might Open SomedaySome desserts you’ll be able to try when Will Goldfarb starts serving at the new Dessert Studio at Michel Cluizel this Saturday include “white chocolate gelato drizzled with olive oil; Indonesian vanilla ice cream with American caviar; and chocolate-hazelnut cake with apricots and brown sugar ice.” Okay, we need to take a cold shower. [NYT]
Related: Cluizel, Goldfarb to Join Forces in Dessert Pact
1OAK really is close to opening, maybe two or three weeks according to one random construction worker — or is that four to six weeks? [Imbible/Citysearch]
Related: Until 1OAK Opens, Look for Richie Akiva at Scores
New French wine bar Solex is shaping up to be in competition with Momofuku 2.0 for late-night chef hangout. [Mouthing Off/Food&Wine]
Back of the House
Johnny Iuzzini Is Clearly the Sexiest Chef in New York!Was there ever any doubt as to who would win Sexiest Chef contest over at the Daily News? Not here! The polls have closed and, as we always knew he would, our old pal Johnny Zs has walked away with the prize, thanks to 285 votes in the “sizzling” category. In his champion photo, Johnny (who, you’ll remember, has a newsletter that reminds us he “is becoming quite the superstar”) is photographed sitting next to his motorcycle, like a vanilla-coated Fonzie for the 21st century.
Bonus: In celebrating his win, Iuzzini gives us the perfect cocktail of quotage. First he declares — with a straight face — that “We’re chefs and that’s the main thing.” But then he later hints — also with a straight face, no doubt — that he’s available for the lucky ladies: “”There’s always time to date,” he said. “I work about 12 to 14 hours [a day], so that leaves about 10 hours for dating. I don’t need to sleep much.” Oh, swoon.
New York’s Sexiest Chef: Johnny Iuzzini [NYDN]
Earlier: Johnny Iuzzini’s Plea: Elect Me Sexiest Chef!
Back of the House
Need Your Fix of Johnny Iuzzini News? You’re in Luck!After we had some sport with Johnny Iuzzini earlier this week, the dessert master was pretty steamed — he even asked us to take him off our list. No problem, but wouldn’t you have thought we would be off his? Not so! Yesterday brought us our long-awaited issue of “See What’s Up With Johnny,” the official Johnny Iuzzini newsletter. “As usual, Johnny has been receiving quite a lot of buzz,” it assured us, going on to quote Grub Street as calling the tattooed wunderkind “the most influential dessert chef working today.”
Back of the House
Johnny Iuzzini’s Plea: Elect Me Sexiest Chef!We were still trying to make up our mind whether the Daily News’ “New York’s Sexiest Chef” contest was for real or not, when we got an e-mail blast from nominee Johnny Iuzzini, last seen wearing a meringue body stocking on his stylish Website. It read: “Check out todays ny daily news- get a hard copy. Register to see all the chefs and pics and vote!!!!”
Johnny Iuzzini Is the Badass You Want Him to Be; Bloomfield vs. an Iron ChefIn true badass-with-a-softer-side form, the latest rock-star pastry chef Johnny Zs reveals he dreamed of becoming a stuntman before discovering his love for baking. [Restaurant Girl]
The Spotted Pig’s April Bloomfield is stepping into the ring this morning to battle an undisclosed Iron Chef. [Down by the Hipster]
True top chef André Soltner formerly of Lutece goes on about the pros and cons of food TV. [Newsday]
Giant Dessert Spectacular Ushers in New York Wine & Food Festival
The South Beach Wine & Food Festival was such a big hit that a New York spinoff was probably inevitable — and it will be thus! The local incarnation will begin with Sweet on November 16. And what’s Sweet, you may ask? Oh, just a “late-night dessert party” for 1,500 guests on the waterfront, featuring all the city’s top pastry chefs: Grub Street buddy Johnny Zs of Jean Georges, Michael Laiskonis of Le Bernardin, Karen DeMasco of Craft, and Nicole Kaplan of Del Posto. More pastry gods and goddesses will be added to the list in coming months.
But there’s more, as Sweet is just a warm-up for the New York City Wine & Food Festival (their site just went live). It’ll be held next fall, and we’re predicting that it will be huge, even more of a hedonistic binge and bacchanal than the Miami original. In the meantime, Sweet should be a pretty good dry run.
New York City Wine and Food Festival [Official Site]
A Restaurant World ‘Howl’
A reader sent us this Ginsbergian screed earlier this week, which struck us as a perfect snapshot of the restaurant world, circa summer 2007. We leave you now for the holiday weekend. Enjoy!
DanYelle as a restaurant critic? Anne Burell shticking it up in the kitchen with a skirt with horsies on it? David Chang morphing from shy nice smiley ramen guy to F-bomb dropping Esquire spread noodle mob boss? Johnny Iuzzini in a meringue body stocking? Tattoos as the new talent. Top Chef as the new Michelin. Glorified fryers, grass fed peaches, 1,000 day meat. I mean, it’s as if we are all now Cracker Jacks ripping open the next prize every time we open a menu. It’s always going to be a disposable toy. Or wash-off ink. It’s a 3 onion ring circus, this industry. We have our freaks and our clowns and our daredevils and our bearded ladies. It’s “I invented the lobster roll and that white wicker chair to sit on while you eat it.” Huh? It’s sellouts: Bertoli, Starbucks, Target, FreshDirect, Appleby’s. It’s all hypocritical: Eat fresh … and then buy my frozen dinner meals. Hitchcock would have tapped into a whole new genre with the horror of the food world.
—An Appalled Spectator
The Annotated Dish
Strawberry Dessert Quartet at Jean GeorgesJohnny Iuzzini of Jean Georges is one of the leading figures in the modern Dessert Revolution and arguably the most influential dessert chef working today. Typically, any meal at Jean Georges ends with one of four dessert tastings — four dishes united by a single theme. While summer strawberries last (likely another two or three weeks), this strawberry tasting will be available for both lunch and dinner. “The idea is to show how versatile strawberries are,” Iuzzini says. “There are so many ways to manipulate it and yet still maintain its integrity.” As always, mouse over the different desserts to hear them described in the chef’s own words.
Immigrant Pickers Scant for Apple Season; Whole Foods–Wild Oats DealApples, apples everywhere, but not an immigrant to pick them, New York growers fear. [NYT]
A federal appeals court has postponed the Whole Foods-Wild Oats merger “arguing that it would reduce competition and increase prices in the marketplace for natural and organic foods.” And here, we thought “Project Goldmine” would benefit the customer. [NYT]
Let us weep for the carnies: trans fats have been banned in Indiana. State fairgoers ate deep-fried Snickers and Oreos cooked in “healthier” oils. [NYT]
Back of the House
‘Top Chef’ Non-Winner Lia on What Went Wrong
Lia Bardeen, the second New Yorker sent packing in as many weeks, was eliminated last night after the judges described her polenta dish as “mush” and “inedible.” After her elimination, she talked to us about the self-appointed villain of the show and why the kitchen at Jean Georges is more stressful than competing on Top Chef.