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New York's finest restaurants


Wilfrid
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"Executive cheffing" is yet another marketing device, like introducing new products using the brand of a well known product. It is simply a technique for a chef to syndicate himself and leverage his fame to add perceived value to dishes that otherwise would not command the kinds of prices he wants to charge. Sometimes it works and sometimes not. Imagine a world famous neuro-surgeon becoming an "executive surgeon" and offering apprentices to actually perform operations at the same fee as he would charge. Hmm, come to think of it, maybe they do that already.

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I just watched a segment on Peasant on Martha Stewart Living. Cooking over a wood fire, with a handmade rotisserie - seriously, that got me excited.

Sounds like an episode from Monty Python, not Martha Stewart, though I can see her roasting some of her peasants when she gets pissed enough.

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"Executive cheffing" is yet another marketing device, like introducing new products using the brand of a well known product.  It is simply a technique for a chef to syndicate himself and leverage his fame to add perceived value to dishes that otherwise would not command the kinds of prices he wants to charge.  Sometimes it works and sometimes not.  Imagine a world famous neuro-surgeon becoming an "executive surgeon" and offering apprentices to actually perform operations at the same fee as he would charge.  Hmm, come to think of it, maybe they do that already.

In a previous thread, I believe it was robert brown who posited the idea of modern "executive chef" (with the NYC high end restaurant paradigm) as analagous to a high end parisian coutourier. You know "House of Ducasse". I thought it right on.

Nick

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time to weigh in...

in my opinion four star food doesn't necessarily need to be incredibly innovative - and in most cases shouldn't. four star food should be perfect. pristine ingredients prepared with expertise, and care. these kitchens should be sending out food that tastes good because they know it tastes good. i don't have the time and the money to eat someone's 'innovative' experiment. i find it fascinating that in this topic no one can nail what it means to be innovative - you want flavors that aren't muddled, but you don't want the likes of ferran adria - maybe your palates are jaded and your taste buds worn out on expensive wine and too much sugar and foie gras...

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Actually I had a number of things that were innovative this weekend at Trio. One of the things was a pear puree served with "pushed foie gras." Foie gras (cold) was pushed through a tamis (sp?) and it was served alongside the pear puree looking like pureed chestnuts. The purpose of the foie gras was to give the pear puree body and silkyness. It could hardly be tasted. In fact we said that it would make a great foie gras dish if the flavors were balanced differently. The other thing that was innovative (though I understand it's straight out of Spain) was a lobster dish that was served with rosemary vapor. The lobster was in a small dish that was served in a larger bowl full of fresh rosemary cuttings. Then when they placed the dish in front of you they poured boiling water on the rosemary. So everytime you bent over to take a bite of the lobster, you were surrounded by an intense scent of rosemary. The thing about these two dishes were that they were amazingly simple, yet particularly complex. And innovative I might add.

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I couldn't agree more with cookperrync: "four star food should be perfect. pristine ingredients prepared with expertise, and care."

I honestly don't understand the notion of innovation as described so far.

Steve, in describing the foie gras dish at Trio, you say," In fact we said that it would make a great foie gras dish if the flavors were balanced differently." This seems to suggest that something was missing or could have been better.

Southern Girl described her recent meal at Jean Georges and to my mind that is a perfect 4 star dining experience. Signature dishes that are done well and should be a signature dish, well-balanced flavors, new dishes that are well executed with restraint plus gracious service.

Living in a culinary wasteland, I wish I had the options of being so "bored."

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Steve--good point, but Chicago has been happening for a long time. Sandro Gamba went there after DC, and not to NYC, for his star turn. Also, Trotter and Rick Tramonto were among the first US chefs to go to El Bulli--before the Heston Blumenthals or Paul Liebrandts became aware of Ferran--and certainly before any of the elite French chefs in NY. You see, the French and lovers of French cooking have this thing about giving away the appearance of the high ground to Spain. You know, and have argued, how traditional and resistant to change the French are--even the French chefs infused with the freedom of an American spirit. Is it really that surprising that some of the El Bulli-driven innovation has taken hold elsewhere? Chefs like a Ken Oringer in Boston also began emulating Adria before most New Yorkers--like those at Trio--he garnered praise and glowing reviews and other chefs around the country take notice of his climb. Despite this, there is probably more El Bulli in NYC than I think you realize, but I think we've mentioned that before on other threads.

Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

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Steve,

The point is --- is this better as a dessert or an appetizer. Did it make sense? Was it is pleasing? Did you want to eat it at that point in the meal? If yes, then, that is wonderful placement of an interesting dish. If no, then maybe the chef should re-think this as an appetizer.

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"Executive cheffing" is yet another marketing device, like introducing new products using the brand of a well known product.  It is simply a technique for a chef to syndicate himself and leverage his fame to add perceived value to dishes that otherwise would not command the kinds of prices he wants to charge.  Sometimes it works and sometimes not.  Imagine a world famous neuro-surgeon becoming an "executive surgeon" and offering apprentices to actually perform operations at the same fee as he would charge.  Hmm, come to think of it, maybe they do that already.

In a previous thread, I believe it was robert brown who posited the idea of modern "executive chef" (with the NYC high end restaurant paradigm) as analagous to a high end parisian coutourier. You know "House of Ducasse". I thought it right on.

I think it's an appropriate comment as well, but in the greater historical context that also includes the master artists and craftsmen of the renaissance whose studios produced the work they signed.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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Mike,

That is exactly what I meant. This was a dessert. Was the placement right for him? Was it pleasing? Why did he feel it might have been better at the beginning?

I understand the mixture of savoury with sweet, but sometimes I feel that it is there for shock value alone. For example, in France, we had a creme brulee at the beginning of the meal and a carrot sorbet at the end.

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In the current issue of Food and Wine, they mention, Aitor Elizegui who is one of the most progressive chefs in Spain. (His restaurant is located in Zamudio, a suburb of Bilbao.)

...The article further mentions that if you are a timid diner you can opt for a relatively tame dish like "chicken with licorice foam."

:laugh::laugh:

Thanks, lizziee. I'll have to read Food&Wine after all.

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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Steve - Well you're describing innovative by chef and I've been describing it by customers. It makes no sense that there are customers for Adria derived cuisine in cities that are typically culturally behind NYC in most things (no insult to those other cities intended :wink:. And whether they might be cuisine of that nature in NYC, there is nothing like what I had at Trio last weekend.

Liz - Personally, serving foie as something to give a dsh body seems like a waste to me. We would have perferred to eat foie as the dominant taste rather then pear. In fact we couldn't understand the point of foie in this dessert other then wow factor.

Bux - You cannot compare Daniel Boulud to da Vinci. The later's studio (and assitants) only released one version of a piece which the artist deemed perfect. The kitchen at Daniel pretty much mass produces the sea bass with potato scales. And many of those dishes are not perfect when you apply the standard we are using here.

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I just laid out a possible case why it might make sense Steve--and all this stuff is chef-driven, not customer-driven, anyway. Customers--and I consider the media a customer--are sheep.

Let's recap--the best chefs and restaurants in NYC are predominantly French, have been in their current mode and annointed at the top for awhile, the French have a vested interest in retaining their Frenchness, their superiority, their traditionalism, even in the United States, very few French chefs have openly embraced Spain and what Ferran Adria has been saying to the rest of the world.

The best chefs--and most media savvy chefs-- in Chicago are Trotter and Rick--who aren't French, in fact, aren't beholden to any culinary framework or tradition at all. They went to El Bulli early on. In NYC, I'm not aware that Tom Colicchio has been influenced by Ferran--he's doing his own thing--somewhat conservatively, or rather, with less innovation than you'd like to see--yet doing it well. Schaem pointed this out in an earlier post--Laurent Gras had to go to SF for his star turn--I'd add that another forward-thinking "innovative" French chef like Philippe Conticini returned to Paris after a stint in NYC.

Last I looked there is no Le Bernardin, Le Cirque, Lespinasse, Ducasse in Chicago competing with the likes of Trotter and Tru and Trio and...I could go on.

There's more creative freedom there, perhaps there is more in Boston and SF. Why is it so hard to suspect that NYC--leader in all things cultural etc.--may be just a little bit behind the curve and that the chefs there are a little more resistant, a little more entrenched in maintaining the status quo which has served them well, a little more hesitant to go all Adria on their clientele?

Why do think a Blue Hill is seen as so special in NYC? One reason, among many, is that Dan and Mike are stretching a bit, are experimenting a bit with more personal cooking and aren't acting like they're beholden to any tradition.

Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

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For Chicago, actually Evanston, Illinois, I'd say that's pretty innovative.

i'm sure most students at northwestern assume they're to eat the rosemary, perhaps *dip* the lobster in the rosemary water..... :wink: oh, how i miss those guys.... :shock:

that's such a gorgeous setting for his work, though, i'd think. especially in the autumn.

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I'm sure this has been mentioned before, but perhaps has been forgotten: It costs a hell of a lot of money to open a restaurant in NY! If you open up your 40-seat, one-seating boutique and nobody shows up, back to paralegal school and cooking "innovative" cuisine for your wife. JG, Daniel, etc. are brand names in Manhattan and can get investors to do anything they want, but they aren't interested in innovation. Some future, NY, Adria is going to have a hard time convincing big money to invest in "something no has tried before".

Perhaps hope lies in the"arrondisment-ization" of the boroughs. Maybe someone will create a Berkeley-style "gourmet gulch" in Long Island City or Brooklyn (more ambitious than Smith Street, I mean). Though the trick would get the diners with money (ie Manhattan) to come. Its funny, people will travel to Napa or San Sebastian or The Aubrac to eat but would they go to Brooklyn?

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Perhaps hope lies in the"arrondisment-ization" of the boroughs.  Maybe someone will create a Berkeley-style "gourmet gulch" in Long Island City or Brooklyn (more ambitious than Smith Street, I mean).  Though the trick would get the diners with money (ie Manhattan) to come.  Its funny, people will travel to Napa or San Sebastian or The Aubrac to eat but would they go to Brooklyn?

We've had a similar discussion from time to time on the NJ boards. The aura of a Manhattan restaurant is sufficient for many people to invest substantially more money for the same meal. And, as long as the supply of sufficiently well heeled patrons, and generous investors holds up, new restaurants will replace those which fail to make the grade.

In the review of Bacchus, a Chop House, in Fairfield NJ, the reviewer even used the expression "New York prices" to describe the excellent meats and fine preparations. She then went on to express doubt the locals would pay those prices. Based on a recent visit, she was wrong. Place is still going strong after three years.

Apparently it's easier still to dictate the conversation and in effect, kill the conversation.

rancho gordo

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I just laid out a possible case why it might make sense Steve--and all this stuff is chef-driven, not customer-driven, anyway.  Customers--and I consider the media a customer--are sheep.

Quite a provocative statement. Perhaps deserving of its own thread. Not necessarily invalid, but provocative all the same. Worth expanding upon.

Nick

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