What to Expect on Your Job Interview With Gordon Ramsay
Starchefs plugs big-name chefs as often as Heinz bottles ketchup, so you’ll find all the top toques in their new guidebook, Chefs to Know. Aimed at aspiring kitchen lackeys, the book is fun for civilian perusal as well, if only for the “offbeat restaurants,” favorite kitchen tools, and, best of all, their go-to job interview question.
Back of the House
Michelin’s Madness Drives Ed Levine (and Us) Up a WallEd Levine raises some points about Michelin today in what will no doubt be the first of many arguments and think pieces on the subject. There won’t be much debate, though, on the larger question about Michelin: Nearly everybody we know agrees that the book sucks. Unlike its French original, whose authority was well earned and absolute, and based on an army of incorruptible gourmands, the New York book seems more like the product of two Short Hills foodies passing the time on a red-eye airline flight. We haven’t seen the book itself, so we can’t say if the prose will be as insipid and amateurish as last year’s, which was straight from the South Bend Pennysaver, but we think we might get why Michelin is so weirdly arbitrary, a “combination of the Edsel and the Yugo” in Levine’s words.
Ask a Waiter
Ania Zawieja of Robuchon Drinks Wine for Work, Beer for FunHow does Ania Zawieja describe her job as a sommelier? “I drink a lot and try to remember.” Rather than attending sommelier school, Zaweija got her start at a Philadelphia wine bar that rotated its 120 glasses every week. She eventually went on to help open Café Gray, then the Modern, and finally — after the food-and-beverage director of Joël Robuchon’s then-soon-to-open New York outpost dined at the Modern and succeeded in luring her away — she ended up at L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon. Since female sommeliers have lately been a subject of some controversy, we asked her to uncork the particulars of her job.
We’ll Have Your Finest Bottle of Water…
“Bottled or tap?” is an annoying enough question (we love our local H2O, critics be damned), but come August, when Evian’s “luxury bottle” graces restaurants like Daniel, Le Bernardin, and L’Atelier, the question will be “tap, bottled, or really pretentiously bottled?” As elaborated in a training video (that’s right — Daniel Vrod, server of presidents, will soon learn how to pour water), the swanky Palace bottle is presented as if it were a bottle of champers and delivered to your glass using custom coasters and a ceremonial pourer. Question is, will there be a sexy delivery device for the suggested $5 to $8 that will flow out of your wallet for this?
Why Won’t Someone Tell Me About Brunch at Robuchon?Dear Grub Street,I am e-mailing you in a last, desperate attempt to find information about brunch at L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon. The Web boasts scores of reviews on the dinner menu, but I find not one mention of the merit of brunch, a menu, nothing.Cara Gouldey
Chodorow and Tom Valenti Team Up; Rum RenaissanceJeffrey Chodorow is opening a restaurant with Tom Valenti right next to his new restaurant with Zak Pelaccio; also, a new Rickshaw will open in the Village. [Eater]
Related: Chodorow and Pelaccio Planning a ‘Malaysian Coffeehouse’ [Grub Street]
We’re in the middle of a rum renaissance, with “heavy, thick and funky” British varieties and “smooth and sugary” Spanish-Caribbean ones. [NYDN]
Jay-Z’s 40/40 Club defends itself against charges of unfair labor practices: “Everyone makes the minimum wage at the club.” [NYDN]
And the Tablecloths BurnRevolutions don’t happen overnight, so we weren’t shocked that only one of the three Beard Award categories reversed tradition. Still, last night’s ceremony officially ushered in a new era in fine dining.
Gordon Ramsay’s Dark Side Revealed; Staten Island Pizza Conquers the WorldAccording to a revealing new profile by Heat author Bill Buford, Gordon Ramsay isn’t a bad guy, “but he does get angry, helplessly and uncontrollably angry — not an earthly anger but something darker — and has trouble knowing how to stop.” [NYer]
State legislator proposes an A through F system of grading restaurant hygiene, but the Department of Health is against it. [amNY]
A Staten Island pizzeria beats out a field of 65 from six countries to win the 23rd International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas. It’s Denino’s, right? Joe and Pat’s? No. It’s Goodfella’s Brick Oven Pizza. [NYDN]
Hark! James Beard Award NominationsAfter much speculation, the 2007 nominees for the James Beard Awards, the Oscars of the restaurant world, are in. Adam Platt, Rob Patronite, Robin Raisfeld, and Grub Street all filled out Beard brackets (or at least revealed whom we’d like to see win) on Friday. Here’s how the academy’s coming down.
Back of the House
Time to Fill Out Our James Beard BracketsThe nominations for the James Beard Foundation Awards, the Oscars of the restaurant industry, will be announced Monday morning. We’ll report on that as it happens, but for now, here are picks for the main categories from Adam Platt, Rob Patronite and Robin Raisfeld, and Josh Ozersky. Our choices are admittedly New York–centric (the awards go to restaurants across the country), but the ceremony is held here, and the city always looms large in the proceedings.
De Marco’s Bartender Shot in Village Gun Rampage; Big-Check Chains on theDeMarco’s bartender and two NYPD auxiliary officers shot and killed in Village gun rampage. [NYP]
High-end chain restaurants like Smith & Wollensky or Dos Caminos are on the rise, as some recent mergers and acquisitions suggest. [Nation’s Restaurant News]
Joël Robuchon stands behind the counter at L’Atelier this week; Alain Ducasse may not be going to Chicago after all. [Snack]
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.
The Annotated Dish
L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon’s Eel–and–Foie Gras TerrineWelcome again to the Annotated Dish, where the creator of a buzzed-about New York entrée walks you through its essential components. (Simply scroll over the arrows on the image to get quotes from the chef.) This week L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon executive chef Yosuke Suga describes a dish that we’ve been hearing about since the restaurant opened, a compact fusion of sea and land, France and Japan, sweet and savory: Le foie gras fumé en duo d’anguille caramélisée aux saveurs orientales — smoked foie gras layered with caramelized eel ($29 on the tasting menu).
The Other Critics
Tapas, Talk of Town; Mexican, Not So MuchBruni two-stars Boqueria and agrees with Platt that the entrées, not the tapas, are where the action is. “Glossier than Tía Pol, cozier than Barça 18, Boqueria manages to have the virtues of stylishness without the vanity, luring relatively young, good-looking diners who turn out for the eating more than the posing.” [NYT]
Though things are looking up for Spanish cuisine, Paul Adams says “tequila trap” Papatzul, despite “complex, delicate, attention-deserving food,” isn’t doing much to lend Mexican cred. [NYS]
Perhaps Papatzul translates to “hit or miss”? [NYPress]
Meehan rolls up his sleeves for Ethiopian at Meskel and finds a dish that’s “the best thing to happen to East Village vegetarians in a long time.” [NYT]
Restaurant Girl’s skepticism about Frederick’s Downtown is eased by orzo fit for bathing and foie gras that makes her want to get a room. [Restaurant Girl]
At BLT Burger, Augie springs for the Kobe burger but finds the classic one does the trick just fine, thank you. [Augieland]
Tables for Two gets around to visiting L’Atelier, agrees the experience is spotty but “the food has the air of a miracle.” [NYer]
Addictive substances in Pearl Oyster Bar’s lobster roll? [Feisty Foodie]
In the Magazine
Godzilla (Platt) Versus Mothra (Robuchon)
Our six-foot-five resident critic — “big as a house” in his own words — finds a subject every bit as imposing in this week’s review, where he takes on L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon. We won’t cherry-pick the best lines or give away the surprising star rating, but we think this is one of Platt’s very best efforts — the only review we’ve seen that really gives an idea of what it’s like to belly up to the bar at New York’s most ambitious new restaurant. We enjoy all of the big man’s reviews, of course, but this one showed a little extra brilliance. Maybe he was inspired by Robuchon’s counter. “I love eating in bars,” he tells us, by way of explanation. “So I always approach them with reverence and eagerness.”
Reading List: R.W. AppleThe death of R.W. Apple this morning, announced in an especially moving and candid Times obituary, hit us hard at Grub Street. In tribute, here are links to a few of our favorite Apple pieces from recent years.
The Other Critics
Bruni Comments on Nice Buns; Dirty Bird for Crazies?This week the fork-and-penners visited four joints where the primo grub made up for the less-than-stellar service and atmosphere.
• Bruni doles out judicious three stars to Joël Robuchon, noting that the chef’s foie gras–and–Kobe beef slider (“the haute burger of the new millennium”) has nice buns. [NYT]
• Meanwhile, Bruni’s colleague Peter Meehan thinks he’s discovered “the city’s best new hamburger” at Royale, a nondescript bar on Avenue C. [NYT]
• After some throat-clearing that involves the mention of “a sex act you don’t want to know about,” Lauren Collins states in no uncertain terms that “you’d be crazy to want to eat” at Dirty Bird. But you should definitely get a mess of the spicy, succulent legs delivered. [NYer]
• Andrea Strong misses the “amazing haze of really good energy” at the old, smallish Tasting Room but finds redemption in “a creamy haze” of sweet potatoes. [Strong Buzz]