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Anthony Bourdain -- Chicago Chefs' View of Same

Anthony Bourdain -- Chicago Chefs' View of Same
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  • Anthony Bourdain -- Chicago Chefs' View of Same

    Post #1 - October 9th, 2006, 8:00 am
    Post #1 - October 9th, 2006, 8:00 am Post #1 - October 9th, 2006, 8:00 am
    For anyone who hasn't picked up the new Chicago Magazine, it is definitely worth it. There are some great food articles in this issue.

    However, the article raised a question: When read a quote by Bourdain, chefs Bayless and Kahan interviewed responded pretty negatively and it seemed that the responses were directed more at the person than at the particular quote.

    Anybody know why?

    I am familiar with Bourdain only through his Travel Channel show (one of the few television shows that I consider "can't miss.)"

    Is it only these people who didn't like Bourdain, or does he have a poor reputation among the pros?

    Edited to add the quote:

    "I don't care if my tomato was raised in a lab or some hippie's backyard. I don't even care if it causes the occasional tumor in lab rats. I only care that it's the best tasting damn tomato available."
    Last edited by DML on October 9th, 2006, 10:40 am, edited 2 times in total.
  • Post #2 - October 9th, 2006, 8:06 am
    Post #2 - October 9th, 2006, 8:06 am Post #2 - October 9th, 2006, 8:06 am
    Because he wrote a book called Kitchen Confidential?
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  • Post #3 - October 9th, 2006, 8:09 am
    Post #3 - October 9th, 2006, 8:09 am Post #3 - October 9th, 2006, 8:09 am
    Mike,

    I've heard of that, but never read it.
    Does he rip people in that book? Why the attitude?

    By the way -- the quote the got the responses:

    "I don't care if my tomato was raised in a lab or some hippie's backyard. I don't even care if it causes the occasional tumor in lab rats. I only care that it's the best tasting damn tomato available."

    The statement was a bit over the top, but it seemed rhetorical.
  • Post #4 - October 9th, 2006, 8:46 am
    Post #4 - October 9th, 2006, 8:46 am Post #4 - October 9th, 2006, 8:46 am
    I was at Bourdain's book signing a couple months ago at Border's. Given the amount of pros there asking questions, I would say he certainly has his fans among that crowd. He has been, however, pretty outspoken in his mocking of certain celebrity chefs -- Bobby Flay, Charlie Trotter, Emeril, etc. that I wouldn't be surprised if during one speech or another in Chicago he also threw Bayless under the bus, so to speak.
  • Post #5 - October 9th, 2006, 10:13 am
    Post #5 - October 9th, 2006, 10:13 am Post #5 - October 9th, 2006, 10:13 am
    I really like Bourdain and have read Kitchen Confidential, Cook's Tour and the Les Halles Cookbook (to me that's almost as much a novel as it is a cookbook). I also love his show on the Travel Channel. Originally he seemed to come down really hard on any chef who had a show on Food Network, especially someone like Emeril who was also marketing products such as Essence, cookware, etc. Given that view, you can definitely see how Bayless would indeed (as aschie30 said) get thrown under that bus.

    I recently spent some time with a CIA graduate who worked with Thomas Keller for two years. He really liked Bourdain and Kitchen Confidential in particular.

    DML...If you consider Bourdain's Travel Channel show a "can't miss", then I would highly recommend you read Kitchen Confidential.
  • Post #6 - October 9th, 2006, 10:20 am
    Post #6 - October 9th, 2006, 10:20 am Post #6 - October 9th, 2006, 10:20 am
    Not to digress, but with regard to his show:

    No question but that the Beirut show should win an Emmy. It may have been one of the most moving and most incredible hours of television that I have ever seen.
    How a cooking show can go into such depth about food, society, war, and the overall view of people's hopes and dreams was amazing. It was a work of art. It shows what television should be.
  • Post #7 - October 9th, 2006, 10:28 am
    Post #7 - October 9th, 2006, 10:28 am Post #7 - October 9th, 2006, 10:28 am
    DML wrote:No question but that the Beirut show should win an Emmy.


    I wouldn't hold your breath waiting for the nomination, though.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #8 - October 9th, 2006, 10:39 am
    Post #8 - October 9th, 2006, 10:39 am Post #8 - October 9th, 2006, 10:39 am
    aschie30 wrote:I was at Bourdain's book signing a couple months ago at Border's. Given the amount of pros there asking questions, I would say he certainly has his fans among that crowd. He has been, however, pretty outspoken in his mocking of certain celebrity chefs -- Bobby Flay, Charlie Trotter, Emeril, etc. that I wouldn't be surprised if during one speech or another in Chicago he also threw Bayless under the bus, so to speak.


    When Bayless came out with the Burger King endorsement, Bourdain posted a pretty scathing (and amusing) piece of invective on eGullet. I don't know if it's related to that; I was under the impression that Bayless kind of acknowledged the endorsement was a mistake, with his subsequent explanatory statement and donation of the BK money to his foundation. Bourdain has also ridiculed aspects of the slow food and sustainable agriculture movements, which would be apt to put him on the opposite side from Bayless.

    I really enjoy Bourdain's writing; I'm just now in the middle of the Typhoid Mary book which will bring me completely up to date except one of the mysteries. He is very funny; he does go over the top sometimes, enough that he's put notes in The Nasty Bits explaining or backing off some of his positions. Also, he seems like a very nice man in person, which makes me apt to interpret some of his more extreme comments as satire.
  • Post #9 - October 9th, 2006, 10:56 am
    Post #9 - October 9th, 2006, 10:56 am Post #9 - October 9th, 2006, 10:56 am
    when i first read kitchen confidential, i felt it was the truest book about the industry that i'd ever read. down to describing the small 1/2 moon shaped scar on the last joint of most pros index finger. i found his observations to be true throughout.

    it also helped me negotiate the salery offered to me by some clueless amateurs on a project i ended up doing a few years back in s. fla. after meeting a couple times and realizing they had not 3 good answers to the 100 or so questions i'd asked, i suggested they buy that book and read the chapter "a day in the life". it basically chronicles an exec chef's life @ a busy restaurant from the moment of opening your eyes through the closing of them some 18 hrs later. they had no idea what they were asking me to undertake, what my job done correctly would involve and therefore, what it's value was. i was not interested in the least after discussing pay rate. they bought the book, read the chapter and literally doubled their original offer, which i took.

    i later found out that we had a couple friends in common and was able to meet him. maybe i liked him because i related so much to his writing, similar experiences and personality. i felt him a kindred spirit and respect him very much. talented, hard working, outspoken, opinionated, glib, brutally honest, what's the prob? he talks the talk and walks the walk. it would be different if that weren't true. ruffled a few feathers? not p c enough? too bad. i have nothing but the utmost respect for him, a view shared by nearly every one of my peers i ever bothered to discuss him with.
    "In pursuit of joys untasted"
    from Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata
  • Post #10 - October 9th, 2006, 2:06 pm
    Post #10 - October 9th, 2006, 2:06 pm Post #10 - October 9th, 2006, 2:06 pm
    I've never seen him diss any Chicago chefs, but he's certainly outspoken, kind of the Harlan Ellison of the food world. Calling him an @$$hole is probably apt, but he's the kind of @$$hole I'd be happy to have as an acquaintance.

    He doesn't suffer fools gladly, and has expressed dismay at some off the Food Network staples, namely Emeril (and Rachel Ray, I think but not sure. I think he knocked Bobby Flay around a bit on the Vegas ep of one of his travel shows).

    He's a damned good writer though. If you like the "Let's Torture Tony" segments of "No Reservations" you'll love the continuing thread of "Why you don't want to have a TV show" in "A Cook's Tour". "Kitchen Confidential" made me certain that I never want to run a restaurant. People make a big deal about the 'don't eat fish on Monday' and stuff like that from the book, but it's the day-in-a-life troubles of keeping a kitchen running that make the book valuable.
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang
  • Post #11 - October 10th, 2006, 5:49 am
    Post #11 - October 10th, 2006, 5:49 am Post #11 - October 10th, 2006, 5:49 am
    The Beirut episode of Bourdain's show will air again next Monday. If you haven't seen it, I strongly recommend it.

    As noted above, it may be one of the best shows of any kind to air. It is amazing hour of television.
  • Post #12 - October 10th, 2006, 6:02 am
    Post #12 - October 10th, 2006, 6:02 am Post #12 - October 10th, 2006, 6:02 am
    DML wrote:The Beirut episode of Bourdain's show will air again next Monday. If you haven't seen it, I strongly recommend it.

    As noted above, it may be one of the best shows of any kind to air. It is amazing hour of television.


    Comcast (at least my Comcast) doesn't carry the Travel Channel. Anyone have ideas for a public place where there could be an LTH gathering for those of us who want to see it?
    Joe G.

    "Whatever may be wrong with the world, at least it has some good things to eat." -- Cowboy Jack Clement
  • Post #13 - October 10th, 2006, 6:33 am
    Post #13 - October 10th, 2006, 6:33 am Post #13 - October 10th, 2006, 6:33 am
    I think I might be alone in thinking this, but I found the Beirut show to be almost a word-for-word copy of his Salon.com article, and a rather contrived bit at that.

    I watched the entire thing, but walked away feeling like I'd been had, and I'd just been had by something that I'd read the script to, weeks ago, at that. I really didn't like that episode, and quite a few friends had the exact same reaction.
    -Pete
  • Post #14 - October 10th, 2006, 7:24 am
    Post #14 - October 10th, 2006, 7:24 am Post #14 - October 10th, 2006, 7:24 am
    Pete wrote:I think I might be alone in thinking this, but I found the Beirut show to be almost a word-for-word copy of his Salon.com article, and a rather contrived bit at that.


    Of course, since the video was being recorded as it happened, maybe it's the salon article that is derivitive. Just a thought.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #15 - October 10th, 2006, 7:46 am
    Post #15 - October 10th, 2006, 7:46 am Post #15 - October 10th, 2006, 7:46 am
    I see the similarities between the two. The show may have been more effective for me because I saw the show first.

    Still, after reading the article, I don't think it detracts from the power of the show. Seeing the look out from the pool matters. Seeing the reactions when they are going down the street and suddenly you see the cars of the "Hezbollians" as Bush would call them honking and seeing the immediate reaction that it has all gone to hell is incredibly moving.

    For a cook, Bourdain sure can tell a story.
  • Post #16 - October 10th, 2006, 7:56 am
    Post #16 - October 10th, 2006, 7:56 am Post #16 - October 10th, 2006, 7:56 am
    I really screwed up and tivo'd the wrong channel so I missed the Beirut special. It doesn't look like they are going to be reairing it either:(
  • Post #17 - October 10th, 2006, 8:03 am
    Post #17 - October 10th, 2006, 8:03 am Post #17 - October 10th, 2006, 8:03 am
    Octarine wrote:I really screwed up and tivo'd the wrong channel so I missed the Beirut special. It doesn't look like they are going to be reairing it either:(


    Apparently, next Monday it will be re-aired.
  • Post #18 - October 10th, 2006, 3:35 pm
    Post #18 - October 10th, 2006, 3:35 pm Post #18 - October 10th, 2006, 3:35 pm
    I did a podcast interview with Paul Kahan for Hungry magazine, and he only had good things to say about Bourdain, i.e. Bourdain has eaten at Blackbird and loved it, and PK even gave Bourdain recs on local bars.

    I would guess the concern is more about the politics of the plate, i.e. given a choice between a lab grown tomato that tastes awesome, but is equally as good as one from a local farmer...it's a better idea to support the small family over the large aggregate corporation.
    MJN "AKA" Michael Nagrant
    http://www.michaelnagrant.com
  • Post #19 - October 11th, 2006, 8:34 am
    Post #19 - October 11th, 2006, 8:34 am Post #19 - October 11th, 2006, 8:34 am
    I take it as saying "What does he know, he's a line cook turned TV star, not a chef, and he'll say anything."

    More interesting, I thought, were the questions that had to do with media-- including us. First there's a lengthy discussion about star rating systems which prompts a lot of grumbling from Carrie Nahabedian in particular that-- to cut to the central point-- Schwa got three stars from both the Trib and Chicago magazine despite its atmosphere and service. (She and others seem to take it as a given that Schwa has rather casual, unpolished service, though what it actually has is unfancy yet extremely exacting and conscientious service.)

    "How do you take half a star away from someone for bad service, then you hand three stars to someone who isn't giving traditional service?" she asks. (I don't know, how do you call Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon a great painting when the perspective isn't very realistic?) Anyway, for about half a page they go on about how seriously they take those reviews, how frustrating they find a bad one, especially when it doesn't tell you anything you could work on, etc.

    Then there's this:

    Q. How much time do you spend reading all these foodie message boards--egullet, lthforum.com, et cetera?
    Kahan: None.
    Nahabedian: None.
    Achatz: I do. For me, it's a valuable tool to understand the guest. They bring certain issues to light that would never come about, because those people who post are probably never going to write a letter. [Note: Achatz has an official capacity at eGullet.]
    Bayless: You gotta slog through a lot of stuff to get to the valuable things. Twice a year, I'll just go through the sites just to see what people are saying.
    Kahan: There are crazy people out there who spend all their time doing that.
    Bayless: A lot of times these are the people you try to get away from at parties. They just go on and on about their opinion about everything. Why would I want to read their stuff on the Internet?


    Now, if I were a chef like Achatz, I might very well not to choose to read that stuff, because I might choose to insulate myself from the second-guessing of 1000 other people while I create what it is I'm creating. (I'd make somebody else on staff read it to see if there are screwups we need to know about, but I don't blame anybody for not spending their finite time this way.)

    But I am disappointed to read some supposedly forward-thinking chefs still hanging on every word of the old media, like an aging diva waiting to find out if the reviewer for Le Figaro liked my Tosca (and then going into a swoon when he notes that my high C is not what it used to be and I'm looking a little pudgier than last season), yet being so dismissive of the new media (or whatever the hell we are). It's not so much that I disagree-- you can certainly find instances where every word above is true-- but hey, Rick Bayless, you know what else these people are besides bores at parties? These are the people who drop $400 of their own money to eat at Topolobampo. Odd for a guy who tromps around Mexico looking for rare moles to be knocking obsessiveness; he wouldn't be in business if nobody gave a crap about food and Denny's was good enough for everybody.

    Achatz at least has it half right (even if he's subtly, possibly unintentionally, condescending) that you need to be listening to customers and this is an important venue for that. But chefs are no different from any other industry where people who've been in it for a while are having a hard time grasping that the homemade, Vox Populi media are for real and already frequently draw more readership-- certainly more involved readership-- than the old forms they understand and are more comfortable with. I estimated LTHForum recently at about 35,000 users a month. Chicago magazine's circulation is about 184,000-- but how many of those specifically read the restaurant reviews with the avidity that LTHForum users read content here? That's the real comparison and one that surely narrows the gap substantially. It's simply foolish to think that the serious audience is there, and only a few cranks are here.

    The audience is everywhere. You can run from it at a party, but you can't hide....
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    New episode: Soil, Corn, Cows and Cheese
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  • Post #20 - October 11th, 2006, 8:49 am
    Post #20 - October 11th, 2006, 8:49 am Post #20 - October 11th, 2006, 8:49 am
    Mike G wrote:Q. How much time do you spend reading all these foodie message boards--egullet, lthforum.com, et cetera?


    At least we got mentioned, if not read.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #21 - October 11th, 2006, 8:49 am
    Post #21 - October 11th, 2006, 8:49 am Post #21 - October 11th, 2006, 8:49 am
    Kahan: There are crazy people out there who spend all their time doing that.


    My family might just say, "Ditto."

    Bayless: A lot of times these are the people you try to get away from at parties. They just go on and on about their opinion about everything. Why would I want to read their stuff on the Internet?


    Maybe two years ago, LTHforum moderator MAG obtained a wine tasting program via silent auction at Topolobampo. She invited all the moderators for the occasion, which was really quite interesting. Bayless came out at the end for a meet and greet, probably planning to spend just a few moments. Instead he found himself in a room with people who knew Maxwell St. like the back of their hand. The meet and greet turned into a substantial amount of time, where everyone learned from each other. If he wanted to flee, and he knew exactly what our favorite hobby was, then he could have done so easily. I very much had the impression he was enjoying himself.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #22 - October 11th, 2006, 9:42 am
    Post #22 - October 11th, 2006, 9:42 am Post #22 - October 11th, 2006, 9:42 am
    Mike G wrote:But I am disappointed to read some supposedly forward-thinking chefs still hanging on every word of the old media, like an aging diva waiting to find out if the reviewer for Le Figaro liked my Tosca (and then going into a swoon when he notes that my high C is not what it used to be and I'm looking a little pudgier than last season), yet being so dismissive of the new media (or whatever the hell we are).


    Excellent point. Interestingly, I find that most of my peers are skeptical of mainstream media criticism whether it's food, movies, music, widgets, etc. As for Chicago culinary criticism, my attempts to get them to eat at restaurant that, say, Vettel just rated well would inevitably be met with apathy, due in large part, to their view that all well-reviewed restaurants fit into a category that requires (a) exposing yourself to stuffy service and trendiness bordering on gimmick; and (b) dropping on average about $200 per couple on food. Overall, they cannot look beyond (a) and (b) to find the good in the restaurant, brand the experience to be mediocre and never return. Crazy as it may sound to "some people," there are those who would rather participate in a "new media" forum like this because the reviews are word-of-mouth and don't appear to come from the ivory tower. And yet, the OOLAs and the YOhos and the DeeDoos are all that seem to be well-regarded by the mainstream media. Now, Vettel seems to have departed a little from this pattern by reviewing Schwa the way head did, and I think that's good.

    So, I guess a chef like Nahabedian and Bayless can chose to focus on the old media but it doesn't seem like it's advisable.
  • Post #23 - October 11th, 2006, 9:51 am
    Post #23 - October 11th, 2006, 9:51 am Post #23 - October 11th, 2006, 9:51 am
    how silly to ignore learned conscientious opinions? knowledge/info can be found in the strangest places... if you're open to it.
    "In pursuit of joys untasted"
    from Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata
  • Post #24 - October 11th, 2006, 9:56 am
    Post #24 - October 11th, 2006, 9:56 am Post #24 - October 11th, 2006, 9:56 am
    aschie30 wrote:Now, Vettel seems to have departed a little from this pattern by reviewing Schwa the way head did, and I think that's good.


    I hope you are right. While Matsumoto received glowing reports from this board and other media outlets. I have the gut feeling they were crushed by Vettel's criticism of wooden chopsticks and decor resulting in a 2-star rating.

    It's sad, people remember and take in criticism far more than the praise.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #25 - October 11th, 2006, 11:38 am
    Post #25 - October 11th, 2006, 11:38 am Post #25 - October 11th, 2006, 11:38 am
    First, let me say that I haven't read the Chicago magazine article, just this thread discussing it. But from the excerpts above, I don't think we LTHers should take offense at Bayless's comments. After all, his interest in looking at the food sites is specifically to find out what folks are saying about HIS restaurants (as opposed to learning about Katy's Dumpling House or "bolshevik" in Indiana or a new Hungarian buffet or any of the other topics that keep us regulars enthralled). Discussion of Frontera/Topolo is a pretty small percentage of the talk here. Probably most mentions of his restaurants on this site are recommendations to visitors that they should go there, with only a few posts containing critiques that would be useful to a chef/owner. If he checks in a couple times a year and finds those posts, that's probably often enough.

    And, if you think about all of the internet sites out there, yeah you DO have to wade through a lot of useless stuff to find the intelligent comments. Read Metromix lately?

    Moreover, if I found myself at a party stuck next to your typical Metromix poster I would flee at the first opportunity too! :)
  • Post #26 - October 11th, 2006, 11:41 am
    Post #26 - October 11th, 2006, 11:41 am Post #26 - October 11th, 2006, 11:41 am
    jazzfood wrote:how silly to ignore learned conscientious opinions? knowledge/info can be found in the strangest places... if you're open to it.


    There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance—that principle is contempt prior to investigation.” – Herbert Spencer

    Is one of my favorite quotes. I continue to be amazed how much one can learn if they remove contempt from their attitude and thinking.
    Bruce
    Plenipotentiary
    bruce@bdbbq.com

    Raw meat should NOT have an ingredients list!!
  • Post #27 - October 11th, 2006, 12:20 pm
    Post #27 - October 11th, 2006, 12:20 pm Post #27 - October 11th, 2006, 12:20 pm
    all, his interest in looking at the food sites is specifically to find out what folks are saying about HIS restaurants (as opposed to learning about Katy's Dumpling House or "bolshevik" in Indiana or a new Hungarian buffet or any of the other topics that keep us regulars enthralled). Discussion of Frontera/Topolo is a pretty small percentage of the talk here. Probably most mentions of his restaurants on this site are recommendations to visitors that they should go there, with only a few posts containing critiques that would be useful to a chef/owner. If he checks in a couple times a year and finds those posts, that's probably often enough.

    And, if you think about all of the internet sites out there, yeah you DO have to wade through a lot of useless stuff to find the intelligent comments. Read Metromix lately?

    Moreover, if I found myself at a party stuck next to your typical Metromix poster I would flee at the first opportunity too!


    But I think there's a contradiction in there- if he only wants to read about his own restaurants, and isn't looking for recommendations to follow, it actually doesn't take very long to search a forum for posts on one's own restaurant. And while I agree that there are forums where the vast majority of posts consist of whining about one bad experience, I think the reputation of this forum, and several others, precedes it, so it would not be difficult to avoid the less constructive forums.

    My issue with the comments is not so much that I take it "personally", as much as I think it smacks of snobbery- "The opinion of my customers is not important to me, as they are not interesting people, anyway." That's disappointing.
  • Post #28 - October 11th, 2006, 12:53 pm
    Post #28 - October 11th, 2006, 12:53 pm Post #28 - October 11th, 2006, 12:53 pm
    in my opinion, so is his food. been to both places twice. found them good, not great ea time and what i also considered overpriced.
    "In pursuit of joys untasted"
    from Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata
  • Post #29 - October 11th, 2006, 1:20 pm
    Post #29 - October 11th, 2006, 1:20 pm Post #29 - October 11th, 2006, 1:20 pm
    Mike G wrote:More interesting, I thought, were the questions that had to do with media-- including us. First there's a lengthy discussion about star rating systems which prompts a lot of grumbling from Carrie Nahabedian in particular that-- to cut to the central point-- Schwa got three stars from both the Trib and Chicago magazine despite its atmosphere and service. (She and others seem to take it as a given that Schwa has rather casual, unpolished service, though what it actually has is unfancy yet extremely exacting and conscientious service.)

    "How do you take half a star away from someone for bad service, then you hand three stars to someone who isn't giving traditional service?" she asks. (I don't know, how do you call Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon a great painting when the perspective isn't very realistic?) Anyway, for about half a page they go on about how seriously they take those reviews, how frustrating they find a bad one, especially when it doesn't tell you anything you could work on, etc.


    I thought Achatz's comments in defense of Schwa were interesting. (Money shot: "They make up for lacking in certain areas by offering an experience that's unique.")

    I found the wording of Bayless's comment a little harsh but I think anyone could have that reaction to reading the internet boards on some days, and it must be harder when you are apt to find comments about your own work which may be negative and not necessarily fair. Not saying the traditional media are more fair; just, the internet can be kind of gnarly. If you don't like it, it is probably better to just look in occasionally like he says he does. (We've all seen people making asses of themselves on boards related to their professions because they couldn't resist being defensive, running down customers or colleagues, whatever.)
  • Post #30 - October 11th, 2006, 2:11 pm
    Post #30 - October 11th, 2006, 2:11 pm Post #30 - October 11th, 2006, 2:11 pm
    I agree with the chefs on the star system. It's stupid. Star systems pander to people who are more likely to equate the cost of a meal with the quality of a meal, the same people who shove food in their mouth but never taste it, the folks rocking Dom Perignon and Cristal because that's what Jay Z cued them in to.

    I guarantee there are a bunch of people who've called for reservations or gone to Alinea because of the four stars, without actually reading the review, only to say, "What the hell is pineapple foam? Why is there mastic in my dessert? This frozen olive oil cracker is just plain weird?" In fact I know a few who did just this and hated it, because they wanted straight up Foie and Filet.

    The only effective review system is one in which a reader actually reads the paragraphs, absorbs the nuance and whole of the experience, and makes a decision for themselves whether to go. Stars subvert the need to read and make personal decisions.

    Ultimately food reviews are subjective explorations of singular or in some cases multiple experiences of one or a few people. As such, they should be read that way.

    The value of a food board like this is that you have a whole community. Steve Z or Dave Hammond would never be afraid to tell GWIV to shut his piehole if they disagreed with his opinion and vice versa. The more opinions the better. Sure there will be some whiners, but the whole voice will drown them out.

    Most importantly, everyone on this board knows a beef from Al's, a cemita from Taqueria Puebla, and a poached quail egg ravioli from Schwa have an equivalent food value in terms of sublime taste and unparalleled experience, and yet the former two would never even be starred (they might be backhandedly given forks or some other cheap rating system).
    The food boards exist to expose the quality of those experiences, and do so better than the old guard.

    Still it's no wonder chefs pay attention to the old media. No matter how many times writers decry the death of traditional media, the Trib and Sun Times still reach millions of people daily, whereas LTH etc only reach thousands of daily. This will shift over time, but it hasn't done so yet. When it does, Chefs will pay close attention. The smart ones already are.
    MJN "AKA" Michael Nagrant
    http://www.michaelnagrant.com

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