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Groundbreaking Chefs Whose Food Has Seen Better Days


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#1 weinoo

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Posted 25 April 2012 - 04:53 AM

I guess this topic could also be called "chefs who, due to their expanding empires, have restaurants where the food has declined from what made them stars." But that title is way too long.

I'm starting with:

Jose Andres
Bobby Flay

Now save your cards and letters. I respect both of these chefs tremendously. It's just that, well, their restaurants are tired. Don't you think?
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#2 gfweb

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Posted 25 April 2012 - 04:55 AM

Georges Perrier. Sadly.

#3 whitecat

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Posted 25 April 2012 - 05:42 AM

Marco Pierre White
Gordon Ramsay

#4 hathor

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Posted 25 April 2012 - 05:58 AM

IN the spirit of being a contrarian, this begs the question: Is it you who have become jaded? Did Marco Pierre White stop providing thrills? Is that what we are after?

The first chef name that came to me was Emeril. But, what do I know? I haven't eaten his food in years, he's become a TV creation, and that doesn't make me want to seek out his food. Does that mean it still doesn't taste good? He used to be rock solid delicious..I'll never forget a roasted quail in a puddle of BBQ sauce. Would that make my heart go pitter pat now, years later? Maybe so, but it wouldn't be that moment of thrill that existed 30 ought years ago.

What are we after in a restaurant experience? Constant reinvention? Classics that are classics for a reason?

fun to think about, no?

#5 Simon_S

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Posted 25 April 2012 - 06:09 AM

It's tempting to say all of them, since no matter where you say you're going to eat, there's always somebody to say "oh it's not as good as it was when...."

#6 whitecat

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Posted 25 April 2012 - 06:10 AM

IN the spirit of being a contrarian, this begs the question: Is it you who have become jaded? Did Marco Pierre White stop providing thrills? Is that what we are after?

The first chef name that came to me was Emeril. But, what do I know? I haven't eaten his food in years, he's become a TV creation, and that doesn't make me want to seek out his food. Does that mean it still doesn't taste good? He used to be rock solid delicious..I'll never forget a roasted quail in a puddle of BBQ sauce. Would that make my heart go pitter pat now, years later? Maybe so, but it wouldn't be that moment of thrill that existed 30 ought years ago.

What are we after in a restaurant experience? Constant reinvention? Classics that are classics for a reason?

fun to think about, no?


You can ask the same about anything... if The Beatles had made the same record for their entire career, would they be looked upon with such reverence? Should Boeing still manufacture the original 707 only because it's a "classic" ?

Classics are fine... they are classics for a reason... but invention and progression are kind of a cornerstone of humanity. Any sort of creative or technical pursuit kind of requires those things...

There's the other problem of course, that when these former giants spread themselves too thinly, the magic simply wanes and the classics do not hold up to memory. I suspect this is going to be the case with most of the people who end up being listed in this thread more so than the problem I've stated above!

Other industries manage to find the balance... take guitars as a random example. Both Gibson and Fender will offer you something completely up-to-date, high-tech and yet often still in the spirit of their design history. However, for the purists, they've got the back-to-basic "reissue" guitars from the 1950s and 1960s as well. You can have it both ways.

So in summary, I'm not sure what my point is. :biggrin:

#7 hathor

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Posted 25 April 2012 - 06:27 AM

Maybe this is why Marco Pierre White hasn't been so interesting: Marco Pierre White kicks off Singapore tour with Unilever

#8 whitecat

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Posted 25 April 2012 - 06:32 AM

Maybe this is why Marco Pierre White hasn't been so interesting: Marco Pierre White kicks off Singapore tour with Unilever


Allegedly he has to fund a very expensive divorce settlement...

#9 rotuts

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Posted 25 April 2012 - 06:57 AM

Im waiting for someone else to bring up Chef 'Xxxx Xxxxxxx'

but the first poster suggested that the 'Better Days' Chef still commands personal respect. Not this one, so (S)he might not qualify for mention here.

Edited by rotuts, 25 April 2012 - 07:00 AM.


#10 annabelle

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Posted 25 April 2012 - 11:49 AM

Unilever? Man, those guys own everything. We all laughed in B school when they bought (uber-crunchy granola, philosophy-wise) Ben and Jerry's.

#11 weinoo

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Posted 25 April 2012 - 11:56 AM

IN the spirit of being a contrarian, this begs the question: Is it you who have become jaded? Did Marco Pierre White stop providing thrills? Is that what we are after?

The first chef name that came to me was Emeril. But, what do I know? I haven't eaten his food in years, he's become a TV creation, and that doesn't make me want to seek out his food. Does that mean it still doesn't taste good? He used to be rock solid delicious..I'll never forget a roasted quail in a puddle of BBQ sauce. Would that make my heart go pitter pat now, years later? Maybe so, but it wouldn't be that moment of thrill that existed 30 ought years ago.

What are we after in a restaurant experience? Constant reinvention? Classics that are classics for a reason?

fun to think about, no?


I guess what I'm driving at is the fact that the chefs I referenced above, the food they're selling now, whether in the restaurants which catapulted them to fame or in new ventures, is not as good as it once was. Forget the fact that it may not be providing thrills; I can live with that, since I get so many thrills elsewhere :rolleyes: .

Let's take Flay, for instance...his burger place, at least here in DC, sucks. I mean, you're Bobby Flay! Can't you make sure your burger places are making great burgers?

Jose - this is a man who arguably brought the small plates concept to fruition in the United States. So why is Zaytinya as tired as it is. Jaleo, too. And Oyamel, just another Mexican restaurant in a sea of mediocrity, in my opinion.

Let's look at it another way...another early Food Network star whose empire keeps expanding - Mr. Batali. I still love eating at Lupa. Otto is still as good as it always was. maybe Babbo has fallen a notch or two, but I haven't eaten there in ages. Del Posto - 4 stars. Obviously, he has great people running those restaurants and has been able to keep them. Can't say the same for the other two.
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#12 goodkidwe

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Posted 25 April 2012 - 08:07 PM

Wow, Jose Andres and Bobby Flay! My heros!

#13 gfweb

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Posted 25 April 2012 - 08:57 PM

I recently had a fine meal at Bar Americaine. Flay ain't dead yet. But he may be spread thinner than he should be. I'd bet that he has relatively little to do w his Burger places

#14 Twyst

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Posted 26 April 2012 - 09:25 PM

Wolfgang Puck is an obvious choice. Surprised nobody has mentioned him yet, but maybe he's just so far passed his prime that people forget how much of a badass he was in the 80's :p

Edited by Twyst, 26 April 2012 - 09:26 PM.


#15 gfweb

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Posted 27 April 2012 - 10:36 AM

Puck. Charming guy but I always thought his dishes were too cute even when he was hot stuff.

#16 FrogPrincesse

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Posted 27 April 2012 - 11:40 AM

Wolfgang Puck is an obvious choice. Surprised nobody has mentioned him yet, but maybe he's just so far passed his prime that people forget how much of a badass he was in the 80's :p


Regarding Wolfgang Puck, I don't know if it's that obvious. Last time I ate at Chinois was still quite a special experience for me. Of course, if you are referring to his Wolfgang Puck Express chain, that's a different matter altogether...
So we may need to differentiate between flagship restaurants and downscale spinoffs.

Edited by FrogPrincesse, 27 April 2012 - 11:40 AM.


#17 GlorifiedRice

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Posted 27 April 2012 - 05:46 PM

Pepin
Wawa Sizzli FTW!

#18 maggiethecat

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Posted 27 April 2012 - 06:34 PM

I think Rick Bayless hasn't missed a beat, but he has, like, maybe, four restaurants. I get great reviews from friends and critics alike. High, high quality.

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#19 maggiethecat

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Posted 27 April 2012 - 06:38 PM

Oh, and I ate at Puck's Vert some years ago and it was just brilliant.

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#20 David Ross

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Posted 27 April 2012 - 07:05 PM

In all due respect to those out there who feel Chef Puck has passed his prime, I disagree. His restaurants are consistently good to exceptional, from the pizza and sandwich shop I visit at Seattle Airport on a regular basis to CUT and Spago in Las Vegas.

I personally think he's the rare Chef and Businessman who consistently puts the cuisine at the forefront of all his endeavors, which in turn creates the opportunities for success that his company has experienced. He hires talented people and insures the quality and consistency is always top-notch. Based on my experiences dining at his restaurants over the years, I can't quickly name another Chef whose accomplished that level of consistency and quality. I don't think he's seen better days and I fully think he's going to continue to make major contributions to the food scene.

#21 David Ross

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Posted 27 April 2012 - 07:18 PM

And I'll add that the appetizers at CUT, (the Bone Marrow Flan with Onion Marmalade and the Veal Tongue Salad in particular), far surpass the offerings at any other Las Vegas Steakhouse. I know, you may think "Bone Marrow" is so 'meh.' Order it and it will change your mind. Chef Puck has a major impact on the menu and it shows in a level of creativity and innovation in his cuisine that continually puts him ahead of the pack. At least in Las Vegas.

#22 jsmeeker

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Posted 27 April 2012 - 08:14 PM

I agree with David's assessment of Wolfgang Puck. One of the very first celebrity chefs in the USA. Hitting it big in Los Angeles ("Hollywood") really helped get his name out there. People who weren't food/chef people knew who he was. He does have a vast empire. And I've always had good meals at his places (Spago in L.A. and Las Vegas and Cut in Las Vegas)

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#23 Pierogi

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Posted 27 April 2012 - 10:48 PM

Pepin

Bite your tongue ! His new series (or more accurately, *current* series) on PBS, "Essential Pepin" is still teaching me things, and I've been cooking for about 40 years. Jacques is unimpeachable.
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#24 rotuts

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Posted 28 April 2012 - 03:54 AM

bite that tongue a few more times. Ive learned more from him and anyone, bar none. even Julia Child, who comes in second.

bite it some more!

:raz:
:wink:


and he does simple things that turn out great!

now Claudia,
:huh:

Edited by rotuts, 28 April 2012 - 03:57 AM.

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#25 rotuts

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Posted 28 April 2012 - 03:59 AM

I havent eaten at any Puck's. But he is a major supporter of Meals-on-Wheels and I give him many Kudos for that sort of work. You only have to talk to one person that depends on that program to under stand the work that's done.

I wonder if Chef Xxxx Xxxxxxx does any of that.

Edited by rotuts, 28 April 2012 - 04:00 AM.


#26 weinoo

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Posted 28 April 2012 - 05:42 AM

I recently had a fine meal at Bar Americaine. Flay ain't dead yet. But he may be spread thinner than he should be. I'd bet that he has relatively little to do w his Burger places


He may not have much to do with his Burger places, but he has lent/sold his name and cachet to them; he therefore should at least care about the food being sold.

Now, Bar Americaine is interesting to me. I can't remember the last meal I had there; for that matter, I can't remember the first one either, but I'll have to give it a try.

Pepin


Can you name for me the restaurants (which was the point in the original post) in which Mr. Pepin has been the chef, owner or principal partner?
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#27 rotuts

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Posted 28 April 2012 - 06:08 AM

JP was indeed a principle partner with his wife for a restaurant in CT where they live. His wife a few years ago wanted to do this against JP's advice. The food was said to be very good. The Very Local Rag reviewer didnt like it, and his wife shut it down immediately, using some choice words for the idiot involved.

Its in his book "Apprentice' but yes, he doesn't qualify for this thread really.

#28 Twyst

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Posted 28 April 2012 - 07:55 AM

"flay may not have much to do with his Burger places, but he has lent/sold his name and cachet to them; he therefore should at least care about the food being sold.

This is my view on the WG Puck situation as well. Sure, his flagship spots may be good, but his name is also on a couple of places I wish he hadnt lent it to. Just because I feel his brand has taken a hit doenst mean I think its awful, I just dont think some of it lives up to his reputation as the only 2 time winner of the James Beard Best Chef award.

Edited by Twyst, 28 April 2012 - 07:56 AM.


#29 David Ross

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Posted 28 April 2012 - 12:24 PM


"flay may not have much to do with his Burger places, but he has lent/sold his name and cachet to them; he therefore should at least care about the food being sold.

This is my view on the WG Puck situation as well. Sure, his flagship spots may be good, but his name is also on a couple of places I wish he hadnt lent it to. Just because I feel his brand has taken a hit doenst mean I think its awful, I just dont think some of it lives up to his reputation as the only 2 time winner of the James Beard Best Chef award.

I wouldn't consider Chef Puck's airport cafe's as flagship operations, but they serve consistently good food. I've been at the one in Denver a number of times and probably visit the Seattle airport cafe a couple of times a month. The pizzas, roast chicken, garlic fries and salads are consistently good and not much more money than the stuff sold by the national chains in airport food courts. In all honesty, I think his canned soups are pretty darn good too.

#30 gfweb

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Posted 28 April 2012 - 01:28 PM

The only Puck place I've dined repeatedly is the Spago on Maui. Service has been bad to adequate and wine list had run out of several of my choices. Food has been just ok.

Now some of this may be the Hawaii effect but still, if we say Flay should keep his burger joints up to standard how much more should Wolfie protect Spago?