Huckabee Skips Sushi; Super Bowl Snacks AboundFinally, the presidential candidates “respond” to the sushi crisis. Mike Huckabee’s stance? “Nowhere does the Bible mention sushi in the Garden of Eden.” [NYT]
If you’ve ever dreamed of being a Michelin Guide inspector, consider first that in a year “each inspector evaluates 240 restaurants, spends 130 nights in hotels, carries out 800 inspections, writes 1,100 reports and drives 18,000 miles.” [Guardian]
The international conservation group Oceana has issued a report saying that it found mercury levels in tuna sushi throughout the United States to be just as high as in New York’s supply. [Diner’s Journal/NYT]
Gordo Blog Better Than the Real Thing; Water Trend More RidiculousA true innovator has started a mock Gordon Ramsay blog with such posts as “What? Emeril’s boobs aren’t nice enough?” But when will someone step in to fill in the gaps at Chodoblog? [News Groper via Serious Eats]
Related: Food Network, Emeril No Longer Feeling the Love
No holiday parties at Chumley’s this year; according to the owner Steve Shlopak, the space has no ceiling and no floor. [NYO]
Even after a top-chef shuffle and “showdown between Fiamma, L’Impero and Alto … all three places have come through recent turmoil, and the good news is that they’re better than they were before,” says Steve Cuozzo. [NYP]
How to Eat in Tokyo, Michelin Capital of the World
When it comes to New York restaurants, the Gobbler’s views on the addled Mandarins at the Michelin Guides are well known. But when news came, the other day, that the first-ever Michelin Guide to restaurants in Tokyo had awarded our distant sister city a mind-boggling total of 191 stars (compared to 65 in Paris and 54 in New York), the Gobbler had to admit that those crazy fools might be on to something. Not long ago, we spent a week rampaging through Tokyo in a kind of epicurean daze. The Gobbler still isn’t sure exactly what he consumed (fugu sperm sacks, possibly; grilled chicken uterus, definitely; a very nice chocolate éclair flavored with bamboo), but one thing’s for sure. It was all pretty damn good. Here are a few rules for eating yourself silly in that great restaurant mecca, Tokyo, Japan.
Back of the House
L.A. Discovers How Much Michelin Sucks; We Chuckle
Having gone through the five stages of Michelin, we are watching Los Angeles’ reception of its first red book with a mixture of sympathy and amusement. First comes the shock at how dopey and random the choices are; then how badly the book is written really hits you. L.A. Times writer Leslie Brenner announced today, “What shocked me wasn’t who did and did not get stars; rather, it was that the book that purports to be the bible of fine dining is so poorly researched and lamely written that the ratings have no credibility.” Welcome to Michelin land, L.A. Next year’s will be even lamer, despite your well-founded gibes. You stab it with your steely knives, but you just can’t kill the beast.
It’s amateur hour chez Michelin [LAT]
Related: Michelin’s Madness Drives Ed Levine (and Us) Up a Wall
In Other Magazines
Michelin Virus Spreads, Delighting Ducasse, Krauts; Angering Gordo, JapaneseThe Michelin guide gives the media plenty of fodder today — the Los Angeles and Las Vegas guides are out today, the first ever Tokyo guide comes out on Monday, and the German guide came out yesterday. The takeaway: Thanks to a star for his $16 million restaurant Mix at the Mandalay Bay, Alain Ducasse has now become the most-starred chef at 13 stars (beating out Gordon Ramsay’s 12 — perhaps why Gordo got a little pissy on Regis & Kelly yesterday). On the international front, Germany now moves ahead of Spain and Italy in number of three-star restaurants with a whopping 9 behind eternal front-runner France’s 26. It remains to be seen whether the Tokyo guide will change all that but (big surprise!) the Japanese are about as pissed as we were when Michelin set its giant inflatable foot on our shores. Quoth a Japanese food blogger: “These are French people who want to judge Japanese cuisine according to French standards. Japanese people who take part in this ought to be ashamed of themselves.” We hear you, brother!
Alain Ducasse regains crown as most-starred chef [Caterersearch.com]
Michelin guide steps out of West, into controversy in Tokyo [AFP]
Schnitzel Outcooks Spaghetti in Michelin Guide [Deutsche Welle]
Gordon Ramsay Loses Temper with Regis Philbin [Showbiz Spy]
Earlier: The Case Against Michelin
Bourdain’s Reaction to ‘Top Chef’; Goldfarb and Cluizel Sittin’ in aBourdain considers “Hung’s well deserved victory … a nice, stiff middle finger to all those boneheads who’ve been predicting that ‘The producers are setting it up so Casey will win,’ as well as the poor, deluded souls who feel they can somehow taste food through the television screen.” Are you listening, Adam Platt? [Bourdain’s Blog/Bravo]
Michelin Guide director Jean-Luc Naret wants chefs on their toes: “One thing you have to understand is that stars are not engraved in marble, but crystal, and that they can break easily.” [Metromix NY]
Will Goldfarb is officially shacking up with Michel Cluizel at ABC on a dessert café, and Patricia Yeo has abandoned Monkey Bar after leaving Sapa to work on the project in March. [NYT]
Related: Cluizel, Goldfarb to Join Forces in Dessert Pact
Patricia Yeo Leaving Sapa, Opening Rib House; Something About a Monkey
A Happy New York Ending for Gordo; Bruni Thinks Michelin Ratings ‘JustGordon Ramsay at the London is the only new restaurant in town to earn two stars in the Michelin Guide, a conquest that’s especially sweet here where the chef is often maligned and/or mocked — by us, for example. [NYP]
Related: Gordon Ramsay, Gay Icon
Two of Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s “lesser lights,” Vong and JoJo, have received the same Michelin rating as Café Boulud, and according to Bruni, “that’s just nutty.” [Diner’s Journal/NYT]
Jean-Georges has promoted a 24-year-old star sous-chef to be chef de cuisine at Perry St. [Eater]
Michelin Stars: Colicchio Doesn’t Care, But Psilakis Sure Does
Michelin stars, like their celestial models, have enormous power to create and destroy; and even if, unlike their European counterparts, the New York versions lack the power to drive chefs mad or even to suicide, they can still mean a lot to a chef. We spoke to two chefs yesterday. One had lost and the other had gained a star, and neither man seemed unshaken by the event.
‘Food & Wine’ Parties Rock; Yuppies Heart Joe Jr.’sThe Food & Wine Best New Chef parties were pretty good — especially the after-party at the Spotted Pig. We wonder who that unnamed chef doing shots all night could possibly be. Are his initials M.B.? [Mouthing Off/Food & Wine]
Joe Jr.’s coffee shop is becoming a cult favorite among well-heeled Manhattanites – one even rented it out for a party and put up a disco ball. [Mouthing Off/Food & Wine]
Top Chef runner-up Sam Talbot to open an already trendy eatery on the Lower East Side, but his liquor-license papers seem not to be in order yet. [Eater]
Ramsay Feeling the Love — in Britain, AnyhowLooks like his status as (an admittedly lower-tier) gay icon isn’t all the embattled Gordon Ramsay has to be thankful for these days. Ramsay’s Petrus was awarded two stars in the 2007 Michelin Guide to Britain, and his new London restaurant, La Noisette, got its first star. (None of his already-starred outposts were demoted, either.) Good going, Gordo. Just don’t get a big head over it, okay?
Chef Ramsay Still on Top in New Guide [Yahoo News]
Gordon Ramsay, Gay Icon [Grub Street]
Gordon Ramsay Would Like the Honor of Humiliating You [Grub Street]
We Spot-Check Gordon Ramsay’s Stink [Grub Street]
The Other Critics
An Alternative to the Sucky Michelin GuideAs the Gobbler made plain this morning, the Michelin guide — and in particular, its distribution of top honors — sucks. There’s an alternative take on a New York’s elite restaurants: Gayot. Like Michelin, this online handbook got its start in France; its founder, André Gayot, coined the term “nouvelle cuisine.” And while it’s not comprehensive, covering only the top 40 restaurants in the country, Gayot pairs their four-star-and-under ratings with detailed, well-written reviews — not fragments of diners’ opinions, like Zagat, or in-flight magazine copy, like Michelin. Six New York restaurants made the most recent round of selections; that Eleven Madison Park and the Modern wound up on this shortest of lists — coupled with the guide’s clear bias toward French food, Masa being NYC’s only non-French pick — speaks to Gayot’s distinct sensibility. And that has to count for something.
Top Forty Restaurants in the U.S.[Gayot]
Earlier: The Case Against the Michelin Guide
Ask a Waiter
Daniel’s Bernard Vrod Serves Presidents, Gets Wife Free Meals
An ex-pat of gloomy Brittany like so many classic French waiters, Bernard Vrod has been working under fellow farmboy Daniel Boulud for sixteen years, first as a waiter at Le Cirque and, these days, as a maitre d’ at Daniel. We asked him to take us into the latter’s hallowed halls and got tales of Secret Service shakedowns, fowl on the floor, and marriage proposals nearly gone awry.
The Other Critics
Michelin: Gastronomic Bible Reads Like In-Flight AdvertorialWhen we saw the new Michelin ratings on the Web, before getting ahold of the actual book, we were left scratching our heads. (Read our complaints and suggestions here.) Now that we’re reading the thing, we’re becoming even more confused. This is supposed to be a guidebook? The descriptions are all breezy, self-contained little blurbs which seem more like something you would read in an airplane magazine’s advertorial insert than in the American edition of the oldest and most powerful restaurant guide in the world.
Chefs Curse, Bless New Michelin Guide
At last night’s Bid Against Hunger, a benefit for restaurant charity group City Harvest, the champagne was flowing and the food was off the hook. But much of the event’s energy seemed to emanate from the chefs, who were abuzz over the announcement yesterday of the Michelin Guide’s new ratings. “Who knows what their inspectors are like?” asked one chef, who, fearing their wrath, refused to be quoted. “I don’t think they really get American restaurants.” The cooks who got some love from the red book were happy to talk. Eric Ripert of Le Bernardin, one of the city’s three three-star restaurants (Jean Georges and Per Se are the others), was visibly psyched. “It was great news! We were a little bit worried, you know? But we’re definitely going to celebrate later, at the restaurant. Definitely.” (Later, a dinner from Ripert was auctioned off for $24,000.) We asked Lever House chef Dan Silverman, an especially clear-eyed observer of the restaurant scene, what he thought about the ratings. Were they fair? “I’m good with them, obviously,” he said. “We kept our star.”
The Other Critics
Michelin’s Explosive New Red BookMichelin dropped its ratings bomb today, and it’s safe to say that the New York restaurant world is, as usual, reeling. Though not as consequential as a Zagat snub, business-wise, the Michelin ratings are closer to the hearts of top chefs. (French chef Bernard Loiseau was widely believed to have killed himself over a Michelin downgrade.) The book is supposed to be in stores tomorrow (though our local Barnes & Noble says it’s not even at the distributor yet). We do, however, know of some surprises. Messrs. Boulud, Bouley, and Takahama are no doubt having lousy afternoons.