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robert40

Doug Psaltis

532 posts in this topic

I worked with Doug while he was at ADNY and have mad respect for him. He kicked my ass when need be and taught me alot.

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I worked with Doug while he was at ADNY and have mad respect for him. He kicked my ass when need be and taught me alot.

Uh oh!


Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

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. . . .
. . . I've had some good and some bad dinners at the Beard House. Mostly mediocre to bad. Some chefs can pull it off.

. . . .

I've had but one meal at the Beard House and I didn't think it offered great value, but it's a charitable institution and value is not necessarily the reason to eat there. Interestingly enough, I had a dish there that I had previously eaten in the restaurant whose executive chef and sous chef were cooking that day. The biggest difference between the preparation of the dish at the Beard House and as served in the restaurant was the amount of foie gras in the stuffing. The restaurants donate all the food as well as the talent. Although the chefs complained about the facilities and the kitchen, they were able to replicate the quality of the restaurant's cooking. Sometimes Fat Guy nails the situation. An experienced and accomplished chef can produce great food under less than stellar conditions.


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 had some good and some bad dinners at the Beard House. Mostly mediocre to bad. Some chefs can pull it off.

. . . .

I've had but one meal at the Beard House and I didn't think it offered great value, but it's a charitable institution and value is not necessarily the reason to eat there. Interestingly enough, I had a dish there that I had previously eaten in the restaurant whose executive chef and sous chef were cooking that day. The biggest difference between the preparation of the dish at the Beard House and as served in the restaurant was the amount of foie gras in the stuffing. The restaurants donate all the food as well as the talent. Although the chefs complained about the facilities and the kitchen, they were able to replicate the quality of the restaurant's cooking. Sometimes Fat Guy nails the situation. An experienced and accomplished chef can produce great food under less than stellar conditions.

Some of this is true, Mr. Buxbaum. Did you know that sometimes the restaurants have all the food that they are going to present at the Beard house donated to them? The wine, too. The kitchen is notoriously small. Everyone attending the dinner has to pass through the kitchen. It isn't a lot of fun. There is some kind of exchange of money between chef and Beard house, but it isn't much and it isn't clear for what.


Mark

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Some of this is true, Mr. Buxbaum. Did you know that sometimes the restaurants have all the food that they are going to present at the Beard house donated to them? The wine, too.

Wow. Who donates the food and wine? And who gets credit for it? I must say I am surprised that the restaurant doesn't donate it's own food and wine. But surely that explains why the food at the Beard House might be sub-par. :shock:


Lobster.

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The Beard House dinner was poor, though I do believe Mimi's ire is partially fueled by the externalities of the book and controversy. I've certainly had worse meals at the Beard House, probably five or more of them. I'd say this one was somewhat below average for a Beard House event. Doug Psaltis definitely blew it, though. It wasn't the typical irrelevant Beard House audience. This was an invitation-only event and in attendance were nearly all the top cookbook editors from the top publishing houses, plus serious food-journalism luminaries like Mimi, Irene Sax and Barbara Kafka to name a few, plus some hangers-on like me and Doug's girlfriend. So you would think this wouldn't be an event at which a rising-star chef would mail it in. And yet, he mailed it in big time. At 7:30, half an hour into the bad hors d'oeuvres, Psaltis wasn't even there yet. The first seated course was inexplicable: pears and chestnuts on what seemed to be a bad short bread cookie. The course that followed that was in my opinion superb: a soft-boiled and painstakingly peeled egg, a couple of shrimp, cauliflower puree, caviar . . . derivative of a dish I had a couple of times at Mix. Next was a chicken breast from what I thought were extraordinary chickens -- the whole point of the dish was to highlight some fancy chicken with a name, but I don't have my menu with me so I can't remember what it was called. Mine, at least, was moist and very good. The flaw in the dish was that there were supposed to be these roasted seeds in the sauce and they hadn't been roasted long enough to take away their rawness. So those were pretty lame. I didn't stay for dessert -- I had to head out of town the next morning at six. Yes, it was a poor showing.

In addition, and far more relevant, the one meal I've had at County has been, overall, fair. A few excellent dishes, but mostly not. We have a separate topic on Country, for those who are interested.

That being said, of all the objections to Psaltis the least credible one is that he's somehow a cook not a chef, or that he hasn't earned his stripes. He was the chef at a Ducasse restaurant. In the global culinary pecking order, this is far from a joke. No, it's not owning your own restaurant, but did Gray Kunz own Lespinasse? Has Christian Delouvrier ever owned a restaurant? Do the various three/four-star chefs really own their restaurants in any meaningful sense of the word or are most of them really just employees and on-paper owners of a few percent of non-liquid equity? There are different paths to success as a chef; being given a Ducasse restaurant is one way to the top.

For those who went to Mix, ate Psaltis's food and had positive experiences -- you will see several posts on the old Mix topics, not just from me but from some of our most venerable and reliable members like Felonius comparing it favorably to the best restaurants in town -- the train has already left the station on the question of Psaltis's talent or ability to be an excellent chef. The question on the table, for me at least, is why is he screwing up now?


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 question on the table, for me at least, is why is he screwing up now?

Everybody screws up sometime.

The difference is that most people do it without a huge amount of eyes being focused on them intently, with each set of eyes waiting to talk about it afterwards, each set of eyes wanting confirmation of what it is that *they* think, as they do it.

To screw up is to be human.

And apparently to gather to watch the spectacle is human, too.

This guy is getting slammed from all sides. A book recently released that raises more than the usual ire and questions from all sides: on its quality, on its credibility, on his credibility, even on his right to be called a chef. A new restaurant being opened that is high-profile enough to be discussed, with the attendant demands for his focused attention to make sure it works, the zillions of details that need to come together and come together right at each and every meal at each and every table that someone is sitting at. And now the Beard Dinner, another jump right in front of sets of eyes trained on it as if it were the theatre that it can be.

As an observer who has no stake in any of these things whatsoever: not the success or lack of it of his book; not the people whose names as mentioned in the book might somehow be tarnished by his words nor even him "himself"; not the opening of the new restaurant and whether it "makes it" or not in the "scene";

not the Beard dinner where it was not I who had to eat strange distasteful foods;

as an observer of all this the only thing I can say is that if I were him, I would be utterly exhausted.

Exhausted in spirit as well as in body.

And this sort of exhaustion can lead to screwing up.

Perhaps he did bite off too much, and perhaps the bite was taken at the wrong angle.

I don't know him, so I won't assume that this bite was taken intentionally as meaning to wound anyone. Others may see it differently. Certainly the world is full of people who bite and mean to wound.

But as a human being, what I feel for this other human being is compassion.

He seems exhausted and stretched beyond his limit, and the showing of that was the Beard dinner.

I have been that tired in life. I hope that he comes through this stronger, and without carrying too much bitterness of the tastes that others have served him during this time.


Edited by Carrot Top (log)

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the train has already left the station on the question of Psaltis's talent or ability to be an excellent chef. The question on the table, for me at least, is why is he screwing up now?

I think the answer could be obvious.

I don't think there's anyway he couldn't have this mess on his mind a bit, and that's a shame.

Not having an "on" night could happen to almost anyone but when the room is full of people who literally have their "knifes out for you" I could see it being daunting.

Not to mention opening a new restaurant while you're being bled out on the internet.

Maybe I'm wrong and he could give a toss.


2317/5000

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I haven't noticed any emotional pain -- Doug seems fine, upbeat, not at all distracted. My suspicion is that the Beard House thing was a result of his failure to prioritize -- he's in the middle of an opening, he probably spent two minutes on the Beard project and turned it over to some cooks and then didn't follow through with sufficient supervision. I don't know it for sure, but that's my educated guess. In terms of Country, it's too early to judge, but it seems clear to me that at present the restaurant is having trouble getting its legs. The food, also, is for the most part not recognizable as Psaltis's food (though a few dishes are). So yes, I assume Zakarian -- also a terrific chef -- is heavily involved in the menu and that we're seeing a too-many-cooks dyssynergy situation. Country could, I'm sure, pull it out -- it's too early to judge any restaurant.


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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For reasons not clear to me I just spent an hour reading this whole thing. I do not know anyone who is mentioned or who has posted. A guy writes a book and all hell breaks loose. I love egullet but have often thought that some of the managment types seem to take things much more seriously than they should. The egullet insider stuff can be alittle much to the average reader and poster like me who lives in Pennsylvania and loves food, cooking it,and reading and writing about it. Threads are locked! Managment decisions rendered! Threads unlocked! Threats of deletions! Lots of real big egos flying around here. As much ado about nothing as I have ever read anywere. I am going to go rake leaves and than cook something for my wife and I.

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I haven't noticed any emotional pain -- Doug seems fine, upbeat, not at all distracted.

Not that I intend to argue that he has "emotional pain" one way or the other, for that would be rather ridiculous, but in the 49 years I've spent on this planet I have not noticed that "emotional pain" is something that guys, in particular, wish to share with other guys or with the world-at-large.

That just brings on more bashing.

But that does not mean that men who do not weep or whine do not have "the finer" feelings.

Sigh. Whatever.

:wacko:

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The Beard House dinner was poor, though I do believe Mimi's ire is partially fueled by the externalities of the book and controversy. . . .

If I said I believed your support of the Psaltis brothers was fueled by externalities, would that be a less reasonable thing to post? I dare say, Mimi's earned a credibility we can only aspire to. I believe she made herself clear on all accounts related to the meal and the book.


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 dare say, Mimi's earned a credibility we can only aspire to. "

I second that motion.


abourdain

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In reading the following comments, please know I'm not ITB, though I follow culinary stuff closely as I'm very much into great food and wine, and have been known to travel far and wide to find it.

Yes, Mimi Sheraton has earned respect on this thread, but she's one of the few, it seems to me, of food professionals who have.

First, Tony Bourdain posts a mild defense of Doug's book and basically says back off. Then, from what I can read between the lines, some phone calls were made, and all of a sudden Bourdain takes back his prior comments and comes on with a vengeance. Then Ruhlman comes on strong, too, after stating he has some (I'm paraphrasing) inside information. Then people who have written blurbs on the back cover begin to take back their on the record remarks, confessing they really did not read (most of) the book, contrary to the impression given by their quotes on the cover.

Yes, I'd say Mimi is one of the few with remaining credibility. This certainly doesn't reflect well on the culinary 'luminaries' who have either posted or written blurbs on the cover. Has the smell of circling the wagons to protect their buddies in the fraternity. And Psaltis is the one taking the heat????


Edited by DutchMuse (log)

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With all due respect. It's one thing to point out inaccuracies in a book, it's another thing to bludgeon, poor salt on the wounds, tar and feather, blah, blah, blah.... why don't you all just burn him in effigy?

No matter how respected someone's creds are here, it's gotten to point that beaten to death horse is rotting and as my students told me, "wow some of those folks sure are MEAN." You're not gaining any fans with young impressionable minds. Quite the contrary...

I'm off to teach a class and donate some things to the Mosque.

Peace


I can be reached via email chefzadi AT gmail DOT com

Dean of Culinary Arts

Ecole de Cuisine: Culinary School Los Angeles

http://ecolecuisine.com

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Perhaps the culinary powers that be have been offended by the total audacity of the Psaltis brothers to pull off a publicity "gulpe de estado." Everyone is talking about them. Raw jealousy, envy, chutzpah?

Now they have to produce or be eaten alive. Isn't this fun?


The Philip Mahl Community teaching kitchen is now open. Check it out. "Philip Mahl Memorial Kitchen" on Facebook. Website coming soon.

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After reading "The seasoning of a Chef" I noticed that the TFL chapter had a bit of a different tone than the rest of the book, but I dont think that it warrants turning people away from the book, which I thought was really good. To the people that wont read the book after reading this thread, you are basing your decision on a very small portion of the book. Go read the book, it was well worth the money, you could even check it out of the library if you didnt want to spend the$$

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Am I alone in noticing that a lot of the messages in support of this book are coming from very recently joined members?

Maybe I'm just a cynical sod.


Allan Brown

"If you're a chef on a salary, there's usually a very good reason. Never, ever, work out your hourly rate."

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I noticed that, Culinary Bear.

It did raise the question in my mind as to whether they had been sent here to join and post in defense of Poor Dougie by the Empire of the Evil Psaltis Brother Twins, but then decided, nah.

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Hey Steve..if Doug is your friend and his brother your agent, you should have made that clear at the start...or recused yourself from the discussion.

Your defense of him is much misplaced as are your excuses for the very bad meal at Beard. The fault, dear Steven, lay not with the kitchen equipment but with the mindless creations of the chef whom seems to be taste-blind.

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I noticed that, Culinary Bear.

It did raise the question in my mind as to whether they had been sent here to join and post in defense of Poor Dougie by the Empire of the Evil Psaltis Brother Twins, but then decided, nah.

I noticed it too and came to same conclusion you did.

And my opinion of some of the pros here who keep stomping the dead horse isn't very high at all. And quite frankly I am unfamiliar with the incestuous workings of New York food writers and many of the writers themselves. Whatever reputation some have I am not aware of outside of this thread.

Some posts just sound like personal gripes, bordering on obsession. That's just my opinion. The inaccuracies were pointed out repeatedly.

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I've been a member here for quite some time. Do any of the culinary intelligencia disagree with my comments?

For the record, I haven't been dispatched here by anybody. Not sure I can say the same for some of the culinary luminaries.

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Am I alone in noticing that a lot of the messages in support of this book are coming from very recently joined members?

Well, I read the book and enjoyed it. I don't know any of the chef's, by their real names or otherwise. The only restaurant in the book I've eaten at is TFL.

I suppose you'd pretty much have to be a rabid egulleteer to get this worked up over a little book. I say relax, it's just a book.

And I'm not a new member sent to defend Psaltis...


Dave Valentin

Retired Explosive Detection K9 Handler

"So, what if we've got it all backwards?" asks my son.

"Got what backwards?" I ask.

"What if chicken tastes like rattlesnake?" My son, the Einstein of the family.

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Hey Steve..if Doug is your friend and his brother your agent, you should have made that clear at the start

With all due respect, it's worth noting that Steven has disclosed the nature of his relationship with the Psaltis brothers in many, many instances -- click here, here, here and here for examples. One of these predates this topic by at least five months.

Should he have disclosed once again at the beginning of this thread? Possibly, particularly if you subscribe to the notion that full-fledged transparency is good for public relations. However in my opinion, it misses the point that the truth is out there for all to see.

I will say that after this memoir, I wonder if there will be anything else that might be written now or in the future that has the power to cause such a tempest in a teapot. :wink:

Yours,

Soba

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