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  1. http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/restaurants-and-bars/the-alist-crowd-20110423-1drqx.html They are kidding right? As a chef, I'd rather Three Michelin Stars. As a reviewer, I know which one I would prefer to work for. Restaurant reviewers these days seem to want to be seen and be known. Everyone knows who they are, what they look like and where they are going to be. How can we take them seriously? At least with the Michelin inspectors you will never know who they are. Anyone else have any other thoughts on the whole thing?
  2. I really don't like lists that try to rank how good restaurants are. This comes from a few things. Firstly, food is always subjective, and one place which is incredible to one person may well be terrible to someone else. I know reviewers claim to be objective, but I think that is nigh on impossible when it's a scientifically proven fact that food evokes an emotional and physical response. The methodology of The World's 50 Best voting is reasonable, but I think it leaves a lot to be desired. Next, when eating at a restaurant of the standard required to make a list such as The World's 50 Best you are talking about some very high calibre staff indeed. At any given time, any one of those restaurants can produce a meal that is truly the world's best. The difficulty of ranking them when this is the case shouldn't be forgotten. There are thousands of restaurants in the world capable of making that list, and only a handful of reviewers. If a reviewer misses going to a restaurant one night when they do something great, or go to a restaurant one night when they do something wrong, can change the situation entirely. Again, the voting system is reasonable but it leaves a lot to be desired. Another point is the "What about?" factor. Given that food and restaurants are so subjective, I often look at lists such as these and go "What about <insert restaurant here>"? The cynic in me wonders about politics and hype in a consumer/capitalist society when it comes to choosing restaurants, but it probably has more to do with not enough reviewers doing their best to complete a massive task. They can only do so much with what they have available. Finally, I wonder why some restaurants make the list when so many people that have eaten there think it is overrated or even terrible. I'm sure it's happened to you, but there have been times where I have been totally bewildered as to how a restaurant made it on to the list, or worse, into the position it did. I wish I knew the rationale behind each one. Having said all of that, anything that generates excitement about the restaurant industry is a good thing. For me, the great restaurants are the ones who have been consistently great over a long period of time. That to me is what makes a World's Best Restaurant list. But again, my taste is entirely different to yours isn't it?
  3. So so glad I am out of that godforsaken industry. Love food but it is one of the most backwards industries I have ever come across, filled with a good number of animals who skipped evolution. The worst incident I ever saw was during service one night. It wasn't particularly busy, but one section and one chef was getting nailed that night. As with anything, once you start getting too busy the mistakes start creeping in. A few little mistakes had being noticed - nothing major, and easily fixed. The head chef was getting antsy about it, and we could all see him ready to explode. This time something was different though. We could see it in his eyes and his body language. He wasn't going to shout. So service continued for a while and we all tried to help our poor little friend who was doing his best, but probably wasn't capable enough to handle it on his own. I don't think any of us were actually. And there were some very capable chefs in that kitchen who had had success in some of the best restaurants in the world. The head chef was getting closer and closer to exploding. He yelled at us to stop helping him which we did, to try and calm him down. The maitre'd offered to help and tried to calm him. We all did. Finally it happened. That poor guy overcooked a scallop - not by much mind you - and the chef exploded. He ripped out the circle of the target top, grabbed the guys arm and branded him. Held him there and branded him. I've never seen anything so terrifying in my life. I still remember that stench of burnt flesh to this very day. I think that was probably the beginning of the end for me. I walked out after that happened, and after the court proceedings and all that, I tried to get back in to a kitchen. The very next kitchen I worked in may not have been rough, but it sure felt rough. Maybe I was tainted from last time, but there certainly were some very rough characters in that place. The usual half drunk, half drug fucked losers, all full of testosterone trying to outdo each other in everything. There was at least one fight a week, and at least half a dozen people would quit by the end of a fortnight. I didn't last long there, only about 3 months. After that I just couldn't get motivated to get back into it. The kind of hours you work, for the kind of pay you get, with kind of people in that crowd makes it very difficult to justify, especially when you have a family you want to see and you are getting on a bit.
  4. George Carlin addressed this in "Brain Droppings" -- When the pepper-guy comes, tell him to keep grinding. And grinding. And grinding. For 10 to 15 minutes. Then send the dish back, saying, "This has too much pepper on it." LOL!
  5. The giant pepper grinder. Actually the pepper grinder in general. If the food isn't seasoned well in the kitchen...
  6. I don't have a problem with texture at all. It's more about the flavour with me. Some things can be hard to approach at first, such as offal or unusual ingredients. That's for foods on their own. My biggest qualm with texture though is at restaurants. A one dimensional dish is a deal breaker for me I'm afraid. As well as service, technical issues etc etc.
  7. This is what I do: But really, I carry most of my kit in a hard metal case to protect it from damage. And I've got my pastry stuff in a metal toolbox for the same reason.
  8. That may be a lunch thing or what you ordered. We were there the other night and none of the dishes could be called cool. Moreover, Brent Savage seems to deliberately add textural elements to the dishes so I'm not sure where the "silky smooth" comment comes from (in my experience, yours may have been completely different). Given the price for what you get, as you remarked, may I recommend a visit in the evening? It could move your opinion up a notch. It may well be that it was a lunch thing. My wife commented a couple of days later on her experience and said a very similar thing. Might just have been the menu we had. It's not a terrible restaurant by any means, and is probably at one Michelin star level. I just felt that a little more texture would have been nice.
  9. Nope. I tend to think a lot of it is just a big money spinner for our supermarkets.
  10. Here's my thoughts. Quay is a must in my opinion. With the usual debate about how high an Australian restaurant would rank in the Michelin Guide, this is the one that would most likely get three stars in my opinion. It's not at that "great" three star level of a place like L'Arpege or Gagnaire (when he is "on"). But it is very very good. Food wise, Nicholas Le Bec's food has it just over him, and so does Chistian Le Squer. Service wise, it's almost as good as Gagnaire, but not quite as good as Ledoyen. It's probably a good two star restaurant at it's best, although I think that view would probably get them their third. The congee is a definite Three Star dish, as is the seven texture chocolate cake. The snow egg is up there with the best desserts I've ever had, in the same league as L'Arpege's apple tart. Becasse I found terribly overrated. Poor timing of dishes, slow service and not that great food. The food to me seemed to be stuck in an era past, sort of around the 2003-07 era if comparing to our European friends. Good for Australia, but not good comparatively. It's at a good price though. Rockpool I found to be brilliant. Since Phil Wood took over, the place has really lifted to another level. The service was rough at times and probably needs a good kick up the arse, but the quality of food was right up there. The abalone, chirashi zushi, marron and the Baked Alaska are classy dishes that wouldn't look out of place in most three star places. Tetsuya's is a bit one dimensional. Look, it's a cracking restaurant and a definite three star when it's "on", but the service can be poor, it does look dated and the desserts really let the place down. His savoury dishes can be one dimensional in texture, but are still amazing dishes. Tets probably needs to sit down and refurbish the place, hire a great pastry chef and get some textural and heat differences on the menu here and there. It's worth a visit, but it can be a love hate relationship. Est I find particularly underrated. It probably isn't the quality of Quay and Tetsuya's, but it is right up there with the very best. He's got this whole Asian/French thing going on, but entirely different to Tetsuya. His balance with food is amongst the very top echelon of chefs around. His dishes can lack punch and texture though. Not all of them, but you might find one or two. If you could only visit three in Sydney, here would be a strong option. Yet to try Marque. Not sure about Pier any more since he handed back his stars. He's changed the style of restaurant so... The desserts have definitely taken a backward step since Katrina Kanetani left which was the last time I went. But I haven't been since he handed his stars back. Katrina Kanetani is the best pastry chef in the world as far as I'm concerned. Her style, sense of balance, textural strengths and sheer quality made the Quay snow egg, Pierre Gagniare's Le Grande Desserts and L'Arpege's apple tart look like they were made by rank amateurs. I dare say that she was worth two of the three hats at Pier when she was there. Bentley was good rather than great. My biggest problem was texture and temperature again. Went for lunch, and almost everything was silky smooth and cool. That's a good thing in moderation, but at the end I was sick of it. Bloody cheap though for the quality you get. Adriano Zumbo's pastries are okay, but they sure as hell aren't of the quality of Laduree, Herme, Ong, Balaguer etc.
  11. Monsieur Roux was right it seems. You can't maintain standards if you spread yourself so thin and put your mug on TV. Michelin has been rumoured to want to take away his third star in the past. If they do so, then I think that's the end of him, if it isn't already. Once that third star has gone, his reputation as a top class chef has gone. His one key commodity that will continue to sell is his reputation as a chef. Once that reputation and exclusivity leaves him, then all he has left is his temper and philandering ways. No stagiere wants to work with him, especially when there are better restaurants and better chefs around who are in the restaurant regularly. Sure, two Michelin stars is good, but three is that much better. And since his restaurant is barely two now...
  12. I think it may end up been the end of him and his empire. His father-in-law has left him, who by all accounts kept the business afloat. His proteges such as Hartnett, Sargeant, Atherton and Wareing have all deserted him. You need great chefs. His flagship restaurant is nothing like it was. Not even on the same planet. The public are sick of his foul-mouthed ways. The media have begun highlighting the "extra-curricular activities" with his mistress and the poor relationship with is wife and kids. He's offended pretty much everyone from here to Mars and back. He's missed charity events and from all accounts has lost his touch in the kitchen - and from what has been said hasn't stepped inside his restaurants for any great period of time for a very long time. The knives are out. And it's not just in the tabloids. It's worldwide in some serious papers. For example, over here he made The Australian - which is what The Times is to England - with a few comment pieces all in a negative light. You can search on Google for articles on him in the past month and they haven't been positive.
  13. Scallops freshly grown on the lakes of Siberia.... Mmmm.... Not fresh don't use it. Plenty of other seafood around.
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