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Everything posted by oakapple

  1. oakapple

    Per Se

    If you have one of the "standard food allergies" (e.g., no shellfish, no nuts), it's safe to say they already have a repertoire of alternatives, and they do not need to know in advance of your visit. If you have a more unusual dietary restriction, then perhaps it would be a good idea to give early notice.
  2. Private Dining Room, i.e., for parties, which are more lucrative than filling the same number of seats with regular diners.
  3. Obviously none of us have access to Tailor's books, so we can only write about how it appeared from the outside. Let us suppose that the pre-opening PR was a mild plus: that for everyone who said, “This guy is a fool,” there is someone else who said, “OK, I admit, I’m curious.” It was nevertheless a missed opportunity to generate more curious people, and fewer who thought he was a fool.
  4. I would concede neither of those, and the point about being on an "empty block" in "the middle of nowhere" is particularly ill-informed. Tailor was meant to be a destination restaurantthe kind of place that would attract most of its clients from outside the neighborhood. Once you've decided to hop in a taxi or a subway train to Soho, whether you go to this block or two blocks away is fairly close to irrelevant. (The location of Wylie Dufresne's first restaurant, 71 Clinton, was much more obscure at the time; it didn't matter. Plenty of places have actually made a mint by being difficult to find: La Esquina, PDT, Freemans, etc.). The statement that it wasn't going to get repeat business...I just don't know where that comes from. It is a success, only to the extent it turns awareness into customers. What Nathan and I are saying is that Mason made himself look foolish. It wasn't the sort of thing that necessarily translates to boat-loads of customers. On the other hand, if that were all there was to it, then restaurants wouldn't care whether the review is good or bad, and we know this is not the case.
  5. I disagree with that whole-heartedly. PR is the most invaluable thing in the NY dining scene, and short of a yellow DOH sticker there is no such thing as bad publicity. Take it from a guy who has been a part of several excellent restaurants that failed do to lack of PR, and one restaurant that turns people away to this day because of a TV show that aired 4 years ago. There are usually multiple reasons for a failure. All Nathan said was contributed to, and I think this is correct. There's an old saying that there's no such thing as bad publicity, but Tailor was the exception. Practically everyone thought that Tailor's pre-opening publicity made Mason look foolish. Even Frank Bruni commented on it. Well...given that there have been successful examples of it here, even if only a few, one must seek other explanations. Of course, there are others too: the front-of-house was not well run, and Mason's original menu didn't have the right mix of sweet to savory dishes.
  6. Having done both, I think the point would be that TTD was a MUCH higher level of cooking. Add to that the facts that it was a much smaller/quieter room, a much more personal menu and Tom himself was actually at the pass touching every dish and you have a pretty compelling case for reinstating it. There's a big difference between good food in a huge/bustling room being brought to you by competent but green staff, and sitting at one of six or so tables and chatting with Tom as he makes your dinner. I will really miss TTD. I think it's doubtful that Colicchio sees it that way. When he charges $78 for three courses and $125 for a tasting menu, it means that in his own mind Colicchio & Sons is a three-star restaurant. Now, I don't think it is even close to that, and I don't think this week's smackdown from Adam Platt is the last we'll see. But in terms of his own ambitions, I think he sees Colicchio & Sons as a TTD that he can do every day. Colicchio has long understood that he is as much a manager as a chef. Before Colicchio & Sons opened, TTD offered a style of cooking that was not on offer at any of his other places. Obviously there was a premium in the perception that "Celebrity-chef Tom Colicchio personally cooked and plated my food." But Colicchio would tell you that he thinks his team is capable of executing his dishes to his standards, and that if the serving staff is green now, they won't be for long. Again, I am not saying that he is necessarily realistic in his views, only that I am sure that is how he wants things to turn out.
  7. At this stage in Bruni's tenure, as I recall, we were trying to "figure him out," just as we are now doing with Sifton. What is abundantly clear, leaving aside questions of style, is that Sifton has more experience in his pinkie finger than Bruni had in his entire body. I am therefore quite certain that, as we get more experience with him, we will find his judgment far more reliable than Bruni's ever could be.
  8. With Colicchio & Sons offering a tasting menu featuring similar dishes, I am not sure what would be the point of reinstating TTD.
  9. It appears that Delmonico's is trying to pull in new clients by offering some of these "throwback" dishes. I have no idea how they'll turn out, but this is not the stuff Delmonico's had been doing in recent years. As a pure steakhouse, there are better places, but it has old-world charm that is perfect in certain situations. I sent some folks there for a business dinner, and they thanked me afterwords for the recommendation.
  10. With many really good alternatives in the EV, why would so many people be willing to do that?
  11. I think the way Fat Guy once described these kinds of places was, “You’re glad to have it, but if you moved out of the neighborhood, you would probably never go there again.”
  12. oakapple


    I don't see any particular reason to be offended by the explanation. It sounds like he perfectly well understands the mathematics of pricing his own wine list. If the explanation printed in the Times over two months ago is not accurate, this was the opportunity to clarify it, and he has done so. Thanks, Robert.
  13. This has been mentioned before, but it bears repeating. Professional cooking is a male-dominated profession. I am not saying it should be; only that it is. Since the producers cast an equal number of men and women, it stands to reason that the average female chef available to them is less capable than the average male chef, because the women are drawn from a smaller pool. It is therefore no coincidence that four of the last five chefs this season were men, and in six seasons there have been five male winners. Jennifer Carroll was the only female chef this season whose food I would be eager to try, and Gail Simmons thought that Jen was, by a long shot, the best female chef that had ever appeared on the show.
  14. For a show that has been around for six years, I think there would be concrete examples, and not mere speculation, if the issue really existed. Word gets around; people talk. I cannot imagine Top Chef standing in the way of her getting a position for which she was otherwise qualified — which she probably isn't. Presumably she's employed already, and as she develops her career, what happened on the show will recede in importance. Can you imagine someone three years from now saying, "Well...her resume and her references are perfect for this job, but we just can't get past her performance on Top Chef in 2009"? It seems to me silly that anyone would consider that a serious possibility.
  15. For the just-completed season, Gail Simmons said that judges' table went on till 6:00 a.m.
  16. I just see no evidence of that. If Top Chef were hurting the careers of chefs eliminated early, you'd think, after six seasons, that we'd have heard of some real examples. I'm not aware of any. Are you? Bear in mind, those eliminated early sink pretty rapidly from the public consciousness. I do realize that, thanks to google, anything you do to make news is permanent. But if someone has built up a solid career over the last few years, is any prospective employer or lender really going to say, "That's great, but we can't get over the fact that you were eliminated in Episode 5 of Season 2." What's more, I think that most people realize what everyone on this thread realizes: that the show is designed to create drama, that there is an element of luck, and that the skills needed to survive deep into the season aren't necessarily the same ones that make for a great chef in the real world.
  17. I would be very surprised if very many (or any) chefs have actually hurt their careers by being on Top Chefeven the ones eliminated early. In contrast, the TC experience benefits far more than just the winner. In addition to Michael, I suspect that Bryan, Kevin, Jennifer, and Eli, have all done themselves a favor by being on this show. That's at a minimum; even Robin and Mike I. are probably better off, or at least no worse off, for having done it. It's true that there's an element of luck to this show, but there's an even greater element of skill. Michael, Bryan, and Kevin seemed to be the best chefs all season long, and sure enough, they're the ones who made it to the final. The bigger issue with Top Chef is that it requires a pretty substantial time commitment (I believe at least 6 weeks), during which you have little to no contact with your family and live in the equivalent of a frat house, your every move watched by a camera practically day and night. If you're eliminated early, you still have to stick around for the entire shoot. Those conditions, more than anything, are what keeps worthy contestants away.
  18. Honestly, I think the skills of Kevin, Bryan, and Michael are close enough that any of them could have won, without it being an injustice. Given the rule that challenges are judged in isolation, it is theoretically possible that the best chef makes one error, and therefore loses, but I can't say that happened here. If you can honestly say that one of them is clearly better than the other two, then you're seeing something I can't. Colicchio has always been described as "head judge," and let's face it, he has more culinary experience that Gail, Padma, and Toby combined. It's understandable that he would dominate the proceedings, and that it would be the rare episode in which he was out-voted. There was an episode this year (I forget which one), in which he admitted later that his fellow judges had talked him out of his original position.
  19. I agree with a lot of that, though I wouldn't go as far. The only thing you've mentioned that actually affected (or could have affected) the outcome was the random drawing of knives. There was no excuse for that. Bringing in the moms was hokey, but you got the sense the chefs themselves did not mind. The ingredients in the "surprise box" weren't crazy, the way they sometimes are on Chopped, and the chefs had a reasonable amount of time to figure out what to do with them. As I recall, an additional course was thrown in at the last minute last year, too. In fact, the chefs mentioned that they were expecting this to happen. Prep time didn't seem crazy; the chefs appeared to be no more hurried than they usually are. The way Kevin was treated at the end was absolutely disgusting, but obviously it affected only the last 60 seconds of the show. I would be much happier if I knew for sure that Padma had done that on her own, as someone upthread had stated. From various comments made about Padma over the years, I would not be shocked if that were true.
  20. Kevin agrees with us that the ending was crass: He also says that he regrets his comments about Preeti. In another Q&A, it's mentioned that Kevin and his wife broke up just before the final was shot. You've got to figure that he wasn't at his best.
  21. What's really bizarre is that Kevin gets a chance to represent the U.S.A. in the Bocuse d'Or, but he came in third on the show.
  22. You're right. It was tacky. They didn't do that last year, because there was no suspense about who was in 3rd place (Carla). I mean, at the end of the last episode you shouldn't mess with people's minds. Just tell us the outcome. That bothered me too. In the final episode, the element of luck should be minimized. A fair way to do it would be to draw knives numbered 1 to 3. #1 chooses first and sixth, #2 chooses second and fifth, #3 chooses third and fourth. That would make it fair for everyone. For that matter, why force them to have a different sous-chef for prep and service? Maybe having Jen on his team wasn't that big of an advantage. In this type of challenge, your sous-chef can lose it for you, but I don't think they can win it.
  23. He was not a favorite when the season began, but by the time of the finale he was clearly at parity with the other two. By comparison, for example, Carla very clearly WAS an underdog in last year's finale. To put it in sporting terms, for her to have won would been major upset. When I say that "any three could have won," I simply mean that their abilities are close enough that it would not have been a major surpriseindeed, it wouldn't have been any kind of surpriseregardless of who had come out on top. I am not discrediting it at all; he won, fair and square. But just like a sporting event decided by one point, any reasonable person would recognize that they were basically even, and if the game were replayed there's no telling how it would turn out. Kevin, for instance, one the Bocuse d'Or challenge two episodes ago. Why didn't Mike win that one? Why didn't Bryan? It's not because they are lesser chefs; they were just lesser that day. The circumstances and pressure weren't much different than in the final. The cards just fell the other way.
  24. If by that, you mean that Jen is more of a sous-chef than a chef, then I disagree. There have been plenty of people on this show who were "chefs" by any reasonable definition, but flamed out relatively early. Or consider Top Chef Masters, in which some incredibly impressive people looked absolutely hopeless. We need to seek other explanations. The fact is, Top Chef throws in a lot of complications that chefs don't experience in their everyday lives. By its nature, the show is designed to throw curve balls, to create pressure, and to take chefs out of their comfort zone. It makes for great television, but it doesn't always make for great cooking. You can be a very good chef, but nevertheless not be well suited for the circus environment of Top Chef. That is what I think happened to Jennifer. She is clearly very talented; indeed, in terms of pure ability, I would rank her higher than last year's winner, Hosea. But she was plagued by nervousness, and hence not a good fit for a setting where she lacks the control to which she is accustomed in her own kitchen. I don't think there was any manifest destiny about it. Colicchio said on his blog, and I agree, that on any given day, any of these three could have won. It's a bit like a football game decided by a 45-44 score; somebody has to win, but it comes down to a handful of close plays that could quite easily have gone the opposite way.
  25. Not really true — as is often the case when someone ends with "period." I would say, in most episodes, by the time the judges announce their decision, it is seldom a surprise.
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