Just returned to snowy Clevelandtown, a twenty-two hour haul from Lyon via Heathrow and O’Hare, thinking all the while on the Bocuse d’Or competition and feeling bad for Team USA, and wondering what to make of it all. “This was a tough one to swallow,” Chef Kaysen wrote in an email, hours after the competition.  “I think I need some months to really draw all the inspiration that was seen there.  I realized in the beginning of the day after seeing both Denmark and Sweden that we did not play the game—we went there and did our food, we did what we thought was right because we loved it so much, but clearly there is a defined game in the way that food that should be presented.  Once that is figured out, then we have Read On »

Share

What do culinary competitions mean in America? Reality shows on Bravo and the Food Network pitting chefs against one another have made compelling TV and earned huge audiences here, but actual not-made-for-TV competitions remain off the radar. American chefs who competed in them were relative unknowns, and the most well-known chefs, those with high profile restaurants, tended to dismiss them for their old fashioned, aspic-coated food platters and the hotel and country club chefs who created them. But in 2008, one of the most revered chefs in the world, Paul Bocuse, famed both for his food and his restaurant as well as his unusual media savvy, aimed to change that by attempting to elevate the competition he created in 1987 in the eyes of America. To do this, he asked two of America’s most famous Read On »

Share

Donna talked me into a little pre-holiday NYC splurge with Claudia and Michael (Chef Pardus if you’ve read Making of a Chef) this past weekend and we truly indulged, did nothing but eat and drink and nap for 24 hours, and oh man did I learn something from three of the city’s best restaurateurs. Our room was not ready when we got in, so Donna and I strolled over to Beacon where wood roasted oysters were the perfect accompaniment to a Hendricks martini.  The city air was cold and fresh, and the holiday lights made the dark afternoon feel festive and hopeful. Our first dinner was at Minetta Tavern, a place I’ve wanted to go to for months, being a huge huge fan of Keith McNally restaurants, Balthazar and Pastis especially.  Being in a McNally Read On »

Share

A year ago, I drove a couple hours south of Cleveland to a strip mall off Interstate 71 to film part of an episode of Bourdain’s “No Reservations” heartland episode, at a stellar Japanese restaurant called Kihachi (google map it, look at all the parking lots and new housing developments). During the meal Bourdain, I made an off-handed remark about how extraordinary to find a restaurant of this caliber in the heart of Applebee’s country.  That was it, that was all!  And it’s still how I still see it, namely that strip malls off interstates, miles from any actual metropolis, is, indeed, Applebee’s country. Regrettably, this episode of the show featured Columbus, Ohio, the state capital, home of OSU and the Buckeyes, and the good people of this heartland city, eager for the national spotlight Read On »

Share