Memo to World: Michael Symon and Michael Psilakis Are Not the Same Person
We ran into Michael Symon last week, a.k.a. the Next Iron Chef; as food celebs we meet are wont to do, he said that he hoped what he told us wouldn’t end up on Grub Street the next day. Jokingly, we suggested that we’d just write about how we ran into Anthos chef Michael Psilakis. “That happens to me all the time,” Symon, said, laughing. You can’t blame people for getting confused: Both men are high-profile, thirtysomething Greek (or part-Greek) chefs named Michael who are bald and happened to open up ambitious Greek restaurants at around the same time. There is, however, one clear difference between the two: Psilakis has a chinbeard, and Symon a soul patch. But this seemed cold comfort to Symon last night. Having frequently been accused of being Terrance Brennan’s doppelgänger, we could sympathize. Now if only we could switch bank accounts.
Gordo Casting Restaurateurs; Thomas Keller Feels for Celebrity ChefsGordo’s back on Fox TV for another season of Kitchen Nightmares, and he’s looking for a floundering restaurateur to belittle on national TV. [Eater]
It’s hard out there for a chef, according to Thomas Keller: “No longer are critically-acclaimed chefs allowed — as they might have been even ten years ago — to call it a day after opening a single successful restaurant. Instead, he said, food wizards like him are … expected to pen best-sellers, give lectures, judge reality TV shows and host benefits like the one he gave last night.” [NYO]
The massive, multistory Pop Burger at 14 East 58th Street will start serving baby crab cakes and grilled filet mignon in addition to burger boxes by mid-November. [Strong Buzz]
Related: Massive New Pop Burger Popping Up in Midtown
Back of the House
Who Will Be Cut Next on ‘The Next Iron Chef’?
Nothing can replace Top Chef in our reality-TV affections, but we have to say, The Next Iron Chef is pretty good. We only started watching this past week, being understandably resistant to another show built on the identical format of Top Chef. The premise Next Iron Chef is that, rather than just having the next Iron Chef selected by Food Network suits, the nation’s most celebrated chefs should compete, with the winner given the dubious honor of cooking in weekly battles in Kitchen Stadium. (You would think chefs would be fighting to avoid such a fate, but such is the pull of fame.)
Ex-Ramsay Chef Taking Over Allen and Delancey; High-End Chinese Fading FastNeil Ferguson, the former chef at Gordon Ramsay, will be in charge of the kitchen at Allen and Delancey when the place finally opens in September. [NYT]
Related: Allen and Delancey Tripped at the Finish Line, Won’t Open
The city’s Chinese fine-dining restaurants are on the run, the victims of changing tastes, high costs, and slim margins. The East Side’s Sichuan Pavilion just went under, and even the genre’s grande dame, Shun Lee Palace, is now peopled mostly by seniors. [NYS]
Organic chef Matthew Kenney, best known for his acrimonious exit from Pure Food and Wine, is back in town and preparing to open a retail prepared-organic-foods business. [NYS]
Related: Raw Foodist Sarma Melngailis Drinks Grapefruit Sake Mojitos Before Noon
King Kobayashi Dethroned; Per Se Chef Moves OnJoey Jaws skewers Kobayashi in hot-dog contest, downing 66 HDBs for new record. [Major League Eating]
Per Se’s Mark Twersky becomes top chef at Alfama; Brian Goodman named exec chef at Parea. [NYT]
Is the controversial farm bill responsible for childhood obesity and diabetes? [NYT]
Daily News survey of two restaurants, writer’s own eating habits indicates that servings of ratatouille may be on the uptick. [NYDN]
Flushing is a hotbed of Korean chicken joints. [VV]
Chicken Fingers Clutch at America’s Youth; Eco-Rebels Reject Bottled WaterUnited States of Arugula author (and friend of Grub Street) David Kamp worries for the next generation: “America is in the grips of a nefarious chicken-finger pandemic, in which a blandly tasty foodstuff has somehow become the de facto official nibble of our young.” [NYT]
Doing their part for Mother Earth, more restaurants are eschewing bottled water and the profits it brings. But only Del Posto is on board in New York. [NYT]
Other restaurants are looking to inflate water prices even more: “When paired correctly with fine wines, particular waters enhance subtle flavors and fragrances, allowing for the ultimate dining experience.” [Chef Magazine]
Dona Is Dead, Long Live the Haute GreeksThe news that Dona is closing Saturday has us in a dismal mood. Who knows how long it will be until chef Michael Psilakis is back behind his stove? In the meantime — or if you can’t score a reservation at Dona in the next couple of days — we suggest you sample the following dishes at these five remaining temples of Aegean cookery.