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Thomas Keller's "Per Se" Pre-Opening Discussion


stefanyb
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The French Laundry’s Thomas Keller doesn’t have a name for it yet, but whatever he decides to call it (my guess is “French Laundry NY”), it will be serving up fine food in the AOL-Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle before the end of the year. To solve the chef can’t be in two places at once problem, Keller has conveniently decided to close his restaurant in California for several months for renovation.

-- Joseph Bavuso

(Source: NY Times Dining, June 25, 2003)

eGullet.com NY News Team

nynews@egullet.org with press releases, news reports, and food-biz gossip

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It really has been a long time in coming. I think it was June 2001 that the word started going around. The New York Times seems to report it every once in awhile (see discussion here).

My understanding is that it won't be called French Laundry, but I haven't yet heard a convincing explanation of why. I have been told by a representative of the restaurant that they "can't use the name," which I assume alludes to a problem with registering the corporation in New York or something like that (a dry cleaner already has the name?). Fun discussion of potential names here.

Jonathan Benno is to be the chef locally.

Also in the complex -- the Palladium at the AOL Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle -- will be Gray Kunz's Cafe Gray, a steak place from Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Ginza Sushiko, and last time we checked Charlie Trotter was still scouting the last of the five available restaurant spaces.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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  • 3 months later...

Like good butter, I think he's spreading himself too thin! Even he sounds nervous about the move to NYC.

How about "One Hour Lunchisizing" (remember one hour Martinizing?-what is that anyway?)

Sounds like his whole concept of that wonderful leisurely European sounding, take your time, taste what your eating experience will be lost.

JANE

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From Alexandra Jacobs' article in the Observer:

When it came to the subject of Mr. DiSpirito, however, he became calm. "Very talented young man," he said. "He had the opportunity, and I think that’s great. What road you choose to go down is really a personal thing. It’s hard to criticize anybody for taking the path that they choose to take. What’s the point—why? We should be more encouraging. We should be more encouraging of ourselves.

I find it hard to assume he's spreading himself too thin. My guess is that half the reporting we'll hear will be from the same perspective that tore into Ducasse when AD/NY first opened and the other half from fans who won't be able to find fault no matter what. At this stage I wonder if we shouldn't just be encouraging and taking a look for ourselves at the result. He's one of our most respected chefs. To a great extent, he's also a chef's chef. I don't think he intends to become poorer as a result of this challenge, but I don't think it's all about the money. It's about challenge as much as anything else.

And if he is spreading himself thin, so what of it? What's the goal or importance of a chef in our society, to create the one perfect meal each night for the smallest number of people or to improve the choices we have of good food. It's possible there's no right answer and he's already created what many consider the best restaurant in the US, why not do more or at least experiment with the idea of determining what is more?

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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I particularly enjoyed these lines from the Observer piece:

In a phone interview, Mr. Colicchio waxed nostalgic for the tall-food excesses of the era, epitomized by Alfred Portale’s work at Gotham Bar and Grill. "It was just fearless cooking," Mr. Colicchio said. "Dripping beet juice 10 feet off the top of a spoon onto the plate so it splattered—things like that. It was the first time that I saw food go on the rim of a plate. We were just really pushing it."
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Of course I wish Mr. Keller the best of luck and hope his new restaurant is a great success.

I do tend to forget that very successful people, whom I consider to be at the peak of their career, may feel themselves like it's only the beginning.

I'm probably just sulking because I've used the excuse of distance to prevent me from going to the French Laundry in CA. Now, even though it will be one State away, I fear I'll still never get there! :sad:

JANE

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Are they going to change the name of the complex to just the Time-Warner center?

Edited by mikeycook (log)

"If the divine creator has taken pains to give us delicious and exquisite things to eat, the least we can do is prepare them well and serve them with ceremony."

~ Fernand Point

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Are they going to change the name of the complex to just the Time-Warner center?

Yes they are. Hopefully the money they save on signage will make my stock price go up :biggrin:

Jamie

Edited by picaman (log)

See! Antony, that revels long o' nights,

Is notwithstanding up.

Julius Caesar, Act II, Scene ii

biowebsite

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Are they going to change the name of the complex to just the Time-Warner center?

"The buidling that used to be call the AOL Time-Warner Building" but the eGullet font doesn't have the proper symbol for that.

Just another comment to show my age. I remember the days when buidling names were carved in stone. :biggrin:

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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"The buidling that used to be call the AOL Time-Warner Building" but the eGullet font doesn't have the proper symbol for that.

Not to be all Ms. Language Person, but wouldn't or née work, depending on the gender of the building? OED seems happy with it. :biggrin:

"Tea and cake or death! Tea and cake or death! Little Red Cookbook! Little Red Cookbook!" --Eddie Izzard
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  • 2 weeks later...

How difficult will it be to get a reservation there this winter with keller in attendance? :hmmm:

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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With a name like that, it may not be hard at all! Now I know why they were so secretive about the name: it totally sucks.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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State-of-the-art technology will permit Keller and Per Se chef Benno to communicate "via a live audio feed between the two restaurant kitchens. I'll be able to talk with Jonathan at any time during the day. After all, collaboration is a big part of what we do."

:blink:

Audio over a distance. By Jove! You mean a kind of a "tele-phone"! Extraordinary.

"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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They need to go read our thread on names for this place. We came up with at least 100 names that would be better than "Per Se."

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Now come on guys... (as I hesitate to refute the founders of eGullet Ñ who, by they way, have yet to make contributions to the Thomas Keller's NYC Outpost: He needs ideas for a name thread (how 'bout ten each?))... what is soooo wrong with the name? I'd imagine a few years from now it will be as synonomus with raising the bar on creative, high end, high quality cuisine for the East as The French Laundry has done in the West. And those who reside closer to the area will be grateful!

Certainly we didn't expect Keller to be content doing the same thing at The French Laundry for the rest of his life. People with such talent get bored easily and are always looking forward to what they're going to do next, whether they know exactly what it is or not. He didn't get to where he is not by not taking risks and succumbing to the clichŽs of the culture or their peers.

I have no doubt that as much thought and deliberacy went into the name as goes into each Cirque du Soleil show title or any one of Keller's dishes. How quick we are criticize when it's not our own restaurant, time, money, or reputation on the line... (and we wonder why people are paranoid)

Think about Keller, his style, his forward approach to cooking. Think about where he came from, his history, how he likes to double entendre the French language.

Chef/Writer Spencer

I find the name entirely appropriate on multiple levels. It has Old French origins and acts only as a motif to it's West Coast counterpart. It's simple, quick, and easy to say without being too "American", good for New Yorkers. The definition of the term alludes to a restaurant doesn't have to mirror the original French Laundry which was designed for a particular location. The new restaurant will be significant in and of it's own right and deserves to be critiqued based on it's inherent atmosphere, presentation, and quality once established.

According to the English Oxford Dictionary, the definition of "per se" is as follows:

per seÊÊÊa. By or in itself (himself, herself, themselves); intrinsically, essentially; without reference to anything (or any one) else.

It's simply an opportunity for more people to be exposed to a fine dining experience created by the master himself.

:smile:

Edited by mudbug (log)
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