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Craft


yvonne johnson
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The general good humour in the midst of serious discussion is one of eGullet's most precious virtues. :biggrin:

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

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Robert S. - Well your last post identifies one of the problems of urban dining. There is no "there" there. And while there are usually ingredients that are local, there isn't a prescribed local flavor to them that is obvious to everyone. But in spite of that difference, the recipes are inspired, or even an exact copy of ones that come from places that are inundated with terroir. Chefs who were frustrated having to consistantly go down that road were probably inspired to create dishes that became popular like Caesar Salad or Fetuccine Alfredo.  But ultimately this comes down to a simple issue of whether the ingredients we get here are good enough to create a local flavor. Someone here mentioned the white asparagus they had at Craft not being up to muster. Well during the month of May you can go into countless plain restaurants in Germany and have fabulous white asparagus that taste of the terroir. In my opinion, this gap in available ingredients that taste of their terroir is why I think I like the courses like raw fish and homemade charcuterie at Craft the best.

Wilfrid - You are indeed right. One can only measure how important any variable is on a case by case basis. But I'll take that as a confirmation of my position because I read the opposing view to be that it is never relevent  :smile:.

"My point was not that one form of elite selection is superior to another, but that access to expensive restaurants continues to be limited to a small number of diners who are arbitrarily chosen by their circumstances."

J.W. - The use of the word arbitrary is possibly the single best

evidence of how the people who refute this argument don't get it. What made America different than Europe is we were brought up to believe that our individual destinies were a product of our own making. That each individual person had the opportunity to reach whatever level they aspired to if they worked at it hard enough. While there might be a hiccup in the system every now and then, I fail to see how that isn't true? And the key to the system is that we all agreed that monetary compensation is the fairest way of rewarding achievement because it is decided in a democratic fashion. As opposed to elites deciding who was worthy.  So who gets to eat at Craft isn't arbitrary, it's intended by those who can afford it, and who have the faculties to be interested in, and understand the experience. It's not an accident, it's on purpose.

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So who gets to eat at Craft isn't arbitrary, it's intended by those who can afford it, and who have the faculties to be interested in, and understand the experience. It's not an accident, it's on purpose.
Steve, if you believe that laissez-faire economics still works in a monopoly-governed economy the same way that it did in the 19th century under relatively free enterprise, then we have nothing more to discuss.

Let me say again that you talk a great deal of sense about food, as opposed to economics. :smile:

John Whiting, London

Whitings Writings

Top Google/MSN hit for Paris Bistros

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"Steve, if you believe that laissez-faire economics still works in a monopoly-governed economy the same way that it did in the 19th century under relatively free enterprise, then we have nothing more to discuss.

J.W. - I don't understand that. When I am in a place like Craft, a large percentage of people who are eating there are people like me. Sons of immigrants who are self-made and have nothing to do with monopolies. In fact who owns restaurants like Craft are exactly the phenomenon I am describing. They are children and grandchildren of immigrants whose ancestors came here as peasants or the lower classes and now they themselves can earn upwards of $1,000,000 a year for their efforts. Show me that phenomenon in any other country in the world. In Britain, how many restauranteurs that aren't British have risen to that level. And in France, which non-Frenchman has established that income level for themselves being a restauranteur? Italy? Spain? It doesn't exist.

Having sold popular culture for so long, I don't believe in the myth that market forces shut out good ideas. In my experience, good ideas always seem to come to the surface with time. In fact I built an entire company on that theory and was quite successful at it. Even today, if one wanted to compete with a monopoly it can be done easily if you are smart enough about it. How many people started niche beverage companies which competed with Pepsi and Coke only to cash them out for tens of millions of dollars? Or how many independant movie studios sprang up and exploited a segment of the market that the big studios were ignoring. Or how many people became farmers to supply places like Craft with top quality ingredients? You know there are two sides to this coin. One says that monopolies stifle creativity. The other says that monopolies are big and clumsy and the natural diffifulties of running a business that size creates space for entrepreneurs. Being inundated with McDonald's and Red Lobster necessitated the advent of places like Craft. That doesn't seem like such a bad trade off to me.

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In the interest of helping the thread veer off in new directions:  Steve, I think you paint a rosy picture of the clientele at upscale New York restaurants.  I must say, whenever I have surveyed the faces gathered at such elegant troughs as Le Cirque, Cafe Boulud, Cello, Jean-Georges, Chanterelle and so on, I have not been struck by the likelihood that they were recently descended from peasants and the lower orders.  Nor did I think what an arbitrary mixture of diners they were.  A number of ethnic groups, for example, tend to be significantly under-represented (at the tables, I mean, not in the kitchen).

Still, it's an appealing myth.

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How many people started niche beverage companies which competed with Pepsi and Coke only to cash them out for tens of millions of dollars? Or how many independant movie studios sprang up and exploited a segment of the market that the big studios were ignoring.
And how many have failed? It's usually easy enough to explain why the wealthy among us deserve their wealth, it's often less easy to explain why others deserve so much less. Should I accept the fact that money is distributed by merit, I still wouldn't understand why the rich should have access to the best restaurants any more than I accept that they should have access to the best universities.

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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Perhaps it's best not to pursue the question of merit on a site such as this. On a bad day it might make the foie gras taste a bit off, the Petrus a mite acidic. . .  :sad:

You have a point, as I suspect there are those on the site who love food and have not tasted Petrus. Foie gras seems pretty common these days and I can't be as sure about it as I can about Petrus.

I once sat at a dinner table with someone who "always" had Petrus, but that turned out to be an editiorial "always" much to my sadness.

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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Foie gras seems pretty common these days and I can't be as sure about it as I can about Petrus.
Indeed. In every shop, Perigord is so full of foie gras that the sheer weight of ducks and geese necessary to produce it must seriously disturb the earth's balance. And the number of tins whose country of origin is ambiguous makes me wonder how many poor birds have lived a terrible life to keep the supply endlessly coming. For years there have been reports from Eastern Europe of cropping ducks' beaks to facilitate the mechanized forced feeding. How long will the conscientious French farmers -- and there still are a lot of them -- be able to resist the economic pressure?

John Whiting, London

Whitings Writings

Top Google/MSN hit for Paris Bistros

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Wilfrid - Well it takes one to know one if you know what I mean. You actually have raised a sub point. The system is far less open to people who are not of European descent. Though this has started to change with the number of people of Asian descent coming into America. As for the people in the kitchen, lots of people of Mexican descent these days and I am sure we will see their children eating there when they grow up.

"And how many have failed? It's usually easy enough to explain why the wealthy among us deserve their wealth, it's often less easy to explain why others deserve so much less. Should I accept the fact that money is distributed by merit, I still wouldn't understand why the rich should have access to the best restaurants any more than I accept that they should have access to the best universities."

Bux - If they failed they have succeeded at something else. Including working for the people who succeeded which is so often the case. But as for distributing money according to merit, how else should they distribute money, and why would that be any fairer? Isn't it fairest when it is distributed according to how popular ideas are?

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Oh boy, Steve, I think we're still agreeing.  Let me throw out a really broad gesture before signing off for the evening:  I agree that money should be distributed according to merit, so long as merit has the opportunity to be displayed.

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Well, I had to go back and read this one from the beginning in an attempt to figure out what happened to the thread.  Not sure I've succeeded, although it's clear that mention of "art" anywhere on egullet causes a stampede.

Although I am not clear on what precise issues are at stake, I can't resist making several assertions:

1.  Whether an artist's views on his or her work are valuable or not very much depends on what those views are

[etc.]

Excellent post, Wilfred.

I see no need to discuss why I see Warhol's work as contentless and others see it as - well, whatever they see it as. I have my views on what I consider advertising and publicity masquerading as great fine art, and others have their views.The rest of your points are, as John Whiting said, a "model of clarity."

As for Steve's views on economics, I think I'll decline to argue about them, except to say that the hardest-working people in this country are certainly not the rich but, rather, the migratory lettuce-pickers and so forth who are responsible for the food you eat. And they will never see the insides of the expensive restaurants you "deserve" to eat in.

That said, even people with appallingly self-righteous and annoying views on socio-economics can be very nice people.  :smile:

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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"except to say that the hardest-working people in this country are certainly not the rich but, rather, the migratory lettuce-pickers and so forth who are responsible for the food you eat. And they will never see the insides of the expensive restaurants you "deserve" to eat in."

Pan - I think you have a grave misconception about how hard successful people work. Whether it be investment bankers who are all at their desks by 7:00am every day and who regularly work 12+ hour days plus time on the weekends or someone like my father who owned his own butcher shop and left for work each day at 5:00am and came home at 7:30 each evening. If only people were compensated by the hours they work, or the amount of manual labor they perform, the world would be a different place to live in.

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Somewhere we got derailed from food into a discussion of wealth distribution and its relationship to hard work, luck and socio-economic opportunity.

This thread definitely raises philosophical questions about the meaning of the word thread.

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Bux - If they failed they have succeeded at something else. Including working for the people who succeeded which is so often the case. But as for distributing money according to merit, how else should they distribute money, and why would that be any fairer? Isn't it fairest when it is distributed according to how popular ideas are?

I think money is distributed by supply and demand rather than any system of fairness. Intellectual education is not as highly demanded as the ability to toss a big ball through a hoop. Major college professors get less than some atheletes. It's certainly fair that people get to spend their money as they see fit. If wealth can buy lawyers and even judges, it would be unfair not to let it buy the best meals. If nothing else it would be unfair to the chefs.

Some people really enjoy their work. Others don't. That seems inherently less fair than any inequitable distribution of capital. I have no claim to know what's fair and always assume life is unfair.

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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If only people were compensated by the hours they work, or the amount of manual labor they perform, the world would be a different place to live in.

Yeah. The lettuce-pickers would be millionaires.

I used to date a stockbroker. I know what hours they keep. I also know that they wouldn't starve if they worked a little less. That's not the case for hundreds of millions of poor people around the world.

But we won't resolve this, so enjoy your money, whatever it is that you earn and however you choose to and are able to (legally, of course! :smile: )  obtain it. Just give a thought to the people who pick the food you eat.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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Wilfrid – (Posted: May 13 2002,12:50)

Steve, I think you paint a rosy picture of the clientele at upscale New York restaurants.  I must say, whenever I have surveyed the faces gathered at such elegant troughs as Le Cirque, Cafe Boulud, Cello, Jean-Georges, Chanterelle and so on, I have not been struck by the likelihood that they were recently descended from peasants and the lower orders.  Nor did I think what an arbitrary mixture of diners they were.  A number of ethnic groups, for example, tend to be significantly under-represented (at the tables, I mean, not in the kitchen).

Wilfrid you are profiling. The only information your observation can maintain is that two or three generations ago the demographic of this country was different.  In 100 years, it may well be that a new contingent will dwell in the five-star restaurants where Asians may be predominant, much to the extent we can observe these tendencies in the Ivy League colleges now.

Box – (Posted: May 13 2002,13:00)

It's usually easy enough to explain why the wealthy among us deserve their wealth, it's often less easy to explain why others deserve so much less. Should I accept the fact that money is distributed by merit, I still wouldn't understand why the rich should have access to the best restaurants any more than I accept that they should have access to the best universities.

Bux– According to your statement, we should expropriate Steve Plotnicki only because it is not fair that someone else didn’t succeed.  Let’s split his wealth among those less fortunate and drive restaurant prices down so more people can enjoy the experience.  If this is the plan, I am all for it.  With one exception, it awfully reminds me an experience of my first 20+ years living in the country where equality was the main principle of life.  My verdict is that there is nothing more unfair than equal distribution away from talent, abilities and even sheer luck without one’s consent.  The unfortunate turn of this utopia is that you are taking a chance away from, not giving it to everyone.  The proposition that we all ought to be equal abolishes luck by default.   We can imply that all ought to have equally good luck, but, inasmuch as there is no way in which we can turn bad luck into good, or misfortune into good fortune, what the proposition means is that if we cannot all have good luck, no one shall have it.  That is all that egalitarianism ever can mean.  The worst becomes the standard.  I have yet to see evidence of a successful society where equality is promoted above all else.  I just hope I won’t have the pleasure to be a part of such an experiment again. :smile:

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lxt, I don't want to "drive restaurant prices down so more people can enjoy the experience." I know too many people who work in restaurants for a living.

:wink:

I'm glad at least that you recognize the contribution of luck. Plotnicki might have us believe lottery winners are also part of the distribution of money to those who merit it. At any rate I refuse to limit my criticism of the capitalist system as we practice it, just because I can't suggest a better alternative just as I will criticize what's wrong with democracy without suggesting that totalitarianism is better. I'm just upset that Plotnicki says my values are without merit because no one's buying them.

: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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"I think money is distributed by supply and demand rather than any system of fairness."

Bux- But supply and demand is a system of  fairness :confused:

Not to belittle the profession but, the reason college professors make the amount of money they do is because the supply of potential professors far outweighs the demand. But on the otherhand, the number of atheletes who when a 6' 5" guy has his hands in their face can throw a ball into a hoop from a distance of 23 feet 49% of the time instead of 47% is maybe fifty people. I'm sure if you were to look at what the 50 top college professors in the country make, I'm sure you would find they do quite well. It's just that nobody is writing about their salaries on the back page of the New York Post every day. And this is true for chefs as well. There is Didier Elena making $125K a year as the executive chef at ADNY and Ducasse must make a huge multiple of that when he's not even there.

As for people being happy/unhappy in there work, I wish I had a good formula for that one.

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"I'm just upset that Plotnicki says my values are without merit because no one's buying them"

Bux - Gee I haven't said that. What I did say is that while your values might have merit, their merit might not have any value (monetary.) They might merit other types of recognition. As for luck and Lotto, I think that any statistical analysis would find that the number of people who became millionaires through sweepstakes is not enough to base a conclusion on luck being responsible for anything. And I think if you were to analyze a group of successful people, you would find that the "lucky ones" were those who took advantage of opportunities that were presented to them and the unlucky ones didn't. But if you really want me to justify Lotto it's easy. The people who won are simply lucky that some smart guy figured out an ingenious way to make money for the state.  :smile:

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This thread definitely raises philosophical questions about the meaning of the word thread.

LOL!  i just spit beer out of my mouth...and it's, like 1 am.  but that's another thread...

edit/full disclosure:  what are you people on about?  f*cking hell, i'm too busy at work to follow this stuff, and when i get home, i too freakin tired to follow this stuff.  i need to set aside a dedicated "egullet day."  not the usual 23 hour egullet day that i've been celebrating, but rather a full 24 hour egullet day.  what da?  who da?  when da?  why da?  where da?  how da?  jeesh i'm stupid.  somebody buy me a dictionary for my birthday.  and some of those encylopedias and stuff.

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Supply and Demand ceased to be an even remotely equitable mechanism for distribution when Edward Bernays, Sigmund Freud's nephew, taught those who controlled supply how they could also manipulate demand. (Take up any book by Stuart Ewen, open it at random and start reading.) Without an understanding of this most basic fact of the 20th century, any discussion of economic justice is meaningless waffle.

My apologies to Tommy - go back to sleep!  :biggrin:

John Whiting, London

Whitings Writings

Top Google/MSN hit for Paris Bistros

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when Edward Bernays, Sigmund Freud's nephew, taught those who controlled supply how they could also manipulate demand. (Take up any book by Stuart Ewen, open it at random and start reading.)

where those guys in the Bryds at some point?  i swear that anyone who ever mattered played in the Byrds.

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when Edward Bernays, Sigmund Freud's nephew, taught those who controlled supply how they could also manipulate demand. (Take up any book by Stuart Ewen, open it at random and start reading.)

where those guys in the Bryds at some point?  i swear that anyone who ever mattered played in the Byrds.

LOL! You are hysterical, Tommy!  :smile:

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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