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Busboy

Celebrity Chefs Sucking...

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It was eGullet's own MarketStSE that turned me onto the phrase "sacred cow tipping" and the Washington City Paper's Tim Carmen certainly tried his hand at that this week, with this piece.

Why can’t we keep our eyes and mouths off places like Komi, Hook, Brasserie Beck, Proof, Bebo Trattoria, and the like? They are, no doubt, the same reasons why we’ve become a nation of starfuckers. We seem genetically programmed to follow, zombielike, behind those chefs with the best pedigrees, the fanciest cribs (in the priciest locations), and the most press clippings. Food journalists—and I include myself here—are co-conspirators, of course, in this game of inflating the already overblown...What I don’t love are the pretensions of the modern restaurant—and how they seem to affect everyone around them, from line cooks to hungry diners to restaurants far down the food chain....

But you know what a celebrity chef will likely never do? Cook your meal....

In recent months, I’ve supped on two rice-paper-thin strips of house-cured lard at Bebo Trattoria, a small sliver of amberjack at Hook, and a lone house-brined olive at Komi. I know I was supposed to be dazzled by these bites, and sometimes I was. But mostly I was dazzled by the fact that the chef had the stones to consider these real courses....

A friend and I ordered two (overcooked) burgers and cheap beer, sat on a gray picnic table as the jukebox blared twangy rock, and watched as the tanker ships, as large as city blocks, rolled by. Neither of us wanted to leave.

When’s the last time that happened to you at a fine-dining place?

I'm not sure he hits a bullseye every time -- I'm pretty sure Monis is back in the kitchen overseeing the preparation of that one olive at Komi, for example -- but he's firing at the right targets -- and that these problems are not confined to DC.


I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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Well then, why don't you post this in the Restaurant Life forum so more people will read it, Busboy? :biggrin:

It's certainly a subject worthy of discussion.

Not that it affects me at all where I live. I assure you.

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In general I completely agree with the author. But to include Johnny Monis? :blink:

If anything he is a exception to the rule and the very reason I drive past the celebrity chef driven NY to Komi without a second glance.

My last visit which was a few weeks ago found Chef Monis over the stove right in the heat of it with his staff. Not just working the pass or overseeing the preparation's. Believe me because after coming down from my wine induced haze I apologized to him by email for the long interruption.

And that olive was part of over twenty courses. If asked, I doubt Johnny would call it a course in the sense of the word himself. Likely just a product that impressed him and wishes to pass along to his guest.


Robert R

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I too questioned Tim's inclusion of Johnny as a "celebrity chef," but other than that, think he made many excellent points.


Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

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This whole argument is a straw man. Why are these chefs "celebrities"? Because the media writes about them often and a lot. How bizarre to help create these celebrities and then complain that that's all you read about. I guess that's how things work these days. I am annoyed every time I see or hear about Paris Hilton and Britney Spears, and I still don't know who the hell Lindsay Lohan is or why I should care about her.


Edited by Mark Sommelier (log)

Mark

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I still don't know who the hell Lindsay Lohan is or why I should care about her.

doesn't she run one of puck's restaurants? ask michel, he'll know.

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I still don't know who the hell Lindsay Lohan is or why I should care about her.

doesn't she run one of puck's restaurants? ask michel, he'll know.

After she crashes her 1) car, or 2) career, she may well.

I still don't know why she's "famous".


Mark

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