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Chef's Theater


Fat Guy
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Andy Lynes saves New York, in today's Daily Gullet . . .

The fusing of two seemingly disparate elements can sometimes result in something genuinely exciting and novel. But the concept behind Chef's Theater is so utterly vacuous that it threatens to suck the life and meaning out of each discipline it so misguidedly seeks to unite, serving only to debase and devalue both. The very idea of Chef's Theater is so risible that we cannot be sure that the whole thing isn't merely an elaborate, brilliant hoax -- indeed we desperately hope it is one.

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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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The whole scenario cracks me up - were it staged by Robert Wilson with music by Philip Glass, it could win a Pulitzer!

But with the mindless sponges that America's brains are becoming due to the incessant influx of reality television, what should be ignored will probably be a huge success.

I'm afraid.

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Yeah, it seems stupid and horrible, but for me, Jacques Pepin lends alot of credibility to the thing, and although I wouldn't pay money to see it even if J. Christ were preparing his famous loaves and fishes dish accompanyed by his homemade '30 Eau Du Vin, Mr. Pepin's participation knocks it from mockable to merely cringeworthy for me.

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I wouldn't pay money to see it even if J. Christ were preparing his famous loaves and fishes dish accompanyed by his homemade '30 Eau Du Vin

I would. :wink::laugh:

On the other hand, the proposition for the play, as presented, seems rediculous and if they are able to raise the investment it will prove that the economy has recovered from it's recent burp and that people once again have more money than they know what to do with.

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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Personally, I'd like to wait until the show is on the boards before commenting. Absurd as it sounds, it might actually work! As in most theater (and for that matter most food experiences) the execution is what matters, not just the concept. This criticism of the enterprise seems premature.

We'll not discriminate great from small.

No, we'll serve anyone - meaning anyone -

And to anyone at all!

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I saw this really bad "concert" from Jamie Oliver this weekend. The only bit I caught was him dancing and singing to reggae playing in time with a movie on a large screen behind him with the words from a lamb curry recipe telling him what to do. It was horrendous. He had some huge crowd there, too. It was so bad, I'd rather watch Dweezil and Lisa's show. This thing can't be worse than that.

Here is the episode I saw:

http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/show_hd/ep...2_30242,00.html

And here is the show:

http://web.foodnetwork.com/food/web/search...ber=+&x=10&y=12

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Considering that we've just had NY Times Magazine "food writer" Jonathan Reynolds (in quotes because I don't think much of his columns, to put it mildly) "acting" and cooking -- well, deep frying a turkey -- and a few months ago that troupe of Korean chef/acrobats cooking a meal onstage, who knows how much lower the taste of the theater-going public can drop. I can't believe that a meal for a maximum of 404 customers, served all at once, will be the gourmet tapdance one should expect from those name chefs.

OH, and for those who don't know, it was Lynn Ahrens and Stephen (or Steven) Flaherty they probably meant. Flattery will get you nowhere.

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OH, and for those who don't know, it was Lynn Ahrens and Stephen (or Steven) Flaherty they probably meant.  Flattery will get you nowhere.

Stephen Flaherty. (Same spelling as Sondheim and Schwartz.) Together, he and Ahrens have written Lucky Stiff, Once on this Island, My Favorite Year, Ragtime, Seussical, and A Man of No Importance. Flaherty is particularly known as a chameleon among theater composers, changing his style to suit the project.

A lot could depend on how seriously everyone takes the project. This is obviously not intended to be the French Laundry. Let's face it, what's dished up isn't going to be to everyone's taste, anyway.

But a lot of people who know a lot about theater, including a number that I know personally, haven't the foggiest idea as to what food can taste like. They spend their money on tickets, not on their meals. And I can't blame them. I've tried to do both in one evening, and know from experience that it just doesn't work; either the meal takes too long to get to the theater on time, or is too rushed, leaving food unappreciated and the theater interrupted by gas. The rush to dine after theater can be just as bad, with kitchens and staff worn out from the earlier seatings and too uncareful to make sure the weeds don't get dumped on the plates along with the food.

This could theoretically expose some theatergoers to food that is of a better quality than they have known, while entertaining them along the way. I just wouldn't take it very seriously, as either a dining or theatrical experience. Working with that as a given, Flaherty and Ahrens are among the best choices for writing this score. They can write serious material, but they can also compose wonderful souffles. If the kitchen staff can keep up their end, so much the better.

(Hey, it can't end up any worse than some of the meals I've eaten at political conventions! :wacko: )

Edited by SWoodyWhite (log)

We'll not discriminate great from small.

No, we'll serve anyone - meaning anyone -

And to anyone at all!

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But with the mindless sponges that America's brains are becoming due to the incessant influx of reality television, what should be ignored will probably be a huge success.

I'm afraid.

I've done a lot more foolish things with a couple of hundred bucks than spending it to see Jacques Pepin and Paige Price on stage. In fact, I'd be quite willing to spend double the amount to sit at the head table! (I'm thinking here of the "underdressed saloon girls ahoy".)

SB (indeed, be VERY afraid)

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:blink:

Todd English I can believe, and maybe he can even pull it off. Samuelsson and Lomonaco would do it (a) for the pure crazed fun and (b) for the PR and money, and likely they'd do a nice job. But Portale? Pepin?!?

I can't decide whether I'm so fascinated I have to see this, or so horrified at the concept I have to run screaming.

:wacko:

Me, I vote for the joyride every time.

-- 2/19/2004

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:blink:

Pepin?!?

Well, yes, Pepin. He did, after all, work for several years at Howard Johnson's, bringing their food quality up to snuff, rather than take a job at the White House. His memoir, The Apprentice, is a must-read.

We'll not discriminate great from small.

No, we'll serve anyone - meaning anyone -

And to anyone at all!

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Thanks, SWW. I saw both Lucky Stiff and Once on This Island and enjoyed both. The premise of Lucky Stiff was kind of creepy, but how do you not love a show that has a song with the refrain, "At times like these, a girl could use . . . a dog."?

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:blink:

Pepin?!?

Well, yes, Pepin. He did, after all, work for several years at Howard Johnson's, bringing their food quality up to snuff, rather than take a job at the White House. His memoir, The Apprentice, is a must-read.

I just read "The Apprentice", which is why I would pay several hundred dollars to see Jacques Pepin live on stage.

In his book Chef Pepin in modest concerning his own accomplishments, gives credit where credit is due, and, although it had to be pretty tough for somebody who's been in the food business as long as he has, pretty much adheres to the old adage, "If you can't find something good to say about somebody, don't say anything at all."

Whether working for DeGaulle or HoJo, he takes pride in a job well done.

Or, if you happen to be in New York City with a couple hundred extra bucks, you can always catch a Broadway show about a mess of naked guys jumping around?

SB (no thanks)

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  • 3 weeks later...

UK members may like to know that a London version of this show is being planned. I have no idea who might be involved or when it might open at this stage, but when I have more details I'll let you know. If they persaude Ramsay to be invoved, I'm booking a ticket.

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  • 3 weeks later...

It must be real: there was an ad for it in yesterday's NY Times food section.

The first 3 chefs listed are Todd English, Tom Valenti, and Tyler Florence. And David Rosengarten is doing the Saturday and Sunday brunch shows. The complete list of chefs is available at the website, says the ad. Dare I link to it? No: but it's chefstheater.com

There's also a series of corporate-sponsor logos at the bottom of the ad: Bloomie's, Cuisinart, Waring Pro, freshdirect, and Wolf. Interesting.

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June 8-13 is FRENCH CULINARY INSTITUTE MASTERS WEEK including not only Jacques Pepin, but Alain Sailhac and Andre Soltner as well. If this show is a success they might be hot tickets. Other potentially interesting appearances by Rick Moonen and Michael Romano. They must be paying the Chef's top dollar. Many of them have already been involved with theater as the list includes a number of chef's with experience from TFN or PBS. My question is when will Emeril be on? :biggrin:

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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  • 2 weeks later...

I subscribe to Theatermania online and just received a notice for discount coupons to see Chef's Theater, an interactive dinner/theatre experience. Previews begin March 30, 2004 and include dinners with Marcus Samuelsson, Todd English, Tyler Florence, et als. and brunches with David Rosengarten.

It's cool to see the Two Hot Tamales back as well!

The following is a link to the main Web site. If you are interested in the discount from Theatermania, pm me and I will send you the particulars or visit theatermania.com

Chef's Theater

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Thanks for the link FG, I didn't realize the topic had been covered before...and already reviewed and ridiculed.... especially since it hasn't opened yet...

I guess that's why I will never be an urban sophisticate. For my newspaper, I write the reviews after I see the show. :cool:

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For my newspaper, I write the reviews after I see the show. :cool:

Pretty much why I resisted commenting on the idea, especially since they're going to go ahead regardless of what I think. The better the meal, the less I appreciate any distraction. Distraction at a dinner table could even be conversation unrelated to the meal at hand. If it's a really good dinner, don't sing, dance or annoy me with questions about my grandson. My guess is that the producers didn't have me in mind as their audience.

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've seen some of the outlines and scripted parts..its seems amusing, and appropriately tongue in cheek. Food as art...its not a terribly new or particularly horrible idea, IMHO.

Edited by Kim WB (log)
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