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Pelaccio, Goldfarb to Open the Windsor

Zak Pelaccio
Despite efforts to keep their new project a secret, Zak Pelaccio and cake whiz Will Goldfarb have been outed! A blog called the Life Vicarious sussed out the existence of the Windsor by examining a James Beard–event listing. The Windsor, says the listing, will be a “cozy yet elegant collaboration they hope will become a hangout for chefs and food lovers alike.” Life Vicarious surmises the new restaurant will be next door to BarFry, at 51 Carmine Street. BarFry man Josh DeChellis is also involved, as well as Goldfarb cohort Robert Truitt. “It will have European, elegant, elevated snacks — jamón ibérico, oysters, a big Champagne list, and we'll have something going in a Crock-Pot every night,” Pelaccio tells us. “It will be homey and casual, and, we hope, open from four to four. I'll be creating panini and a lot of other things.” “The mark of a cad” [The Life Vicarious, via Eater]

Babbo Tops Zagat Italian List, Followed by Relics

We’re not surprised that Babbo is the city’s top Italian restaurant, according to Zagat's new America's 1,000 Top Italian Restaurants book — its popularity alone is enough, in Zagat-land, to ensure yearly dominance. And in fact, Babbo is a wonderful restaurant, four stars by our lights, and justly beloved. But if you had any doubt how unreliable the Zagat surveyors are, just check out number two: Village relic Il Mulino! Now, don’t get us wrong: Il Mulino is a fine restaurant and uses very expensive ingredients to good effect. The tuxedoed wait staff are as servile as ever. But it should be the second-most-popular Italian restaurant of 1958. Haven’t the matrons of Secaucus ever heard of A Voce? Or L’Impero? Or for that matter Del Posto? Don’t look for any of those at number three: The winner there is another beloved mummy, Roberto in the Bronx. Zagat names Babbo New York's No. 1 Italian restaurant [NYDN]

Bourdain Regrets His Semi-Nude Image More Than We Thought

Tony Bourdain wasn’t about to take our mockery (and everybody else's) of his naked Travel Channel ad lying down. So he blogged about it: “What tiny, deeply disturbed demo were they trying to appeal to here? German Scat Porn websites likely attract greater numbers. What about the CHILDREN!? I look forward to the next ad — of my head, photo-shopped onto Barney Fife’s naked body torturing a puppy. Now THAT will draw them in!” The whole post is not to be missed and also happens to include the fact that the aquamarine water Bourdain is eerily floating in is not in fact tropical but rather Icelandic. We were wrong on that score (though our commenters knew better), but we were right about it being creepy. Even Bourdain thinks so! Adventures in the Ad Trade [Bourdain Blog] Earlier:: Anthony Bourdain Officially Overexposed

Meyer, McNally, Nieporent Respond to New NYC Food Festival

SOBE crowd
The Times reported last week that New York will get its own Lee Schrager food festival this fall (as we predicted last year), but does the city’s food community really want one? We rang up a few people who we’d expect to be involved with such an event and got a mixed reaction.

For Ilan Hall, a Taco Shack of One’s Own

Ilan Hall
It’s a far cry from helming a Ken Friedman restaurant, as he was previously rumored to be doing, but now the word, via the Gluttoness, is that former Top Chef Ilan Hall is said to be opening a taco shack in Los Angeles. We suspect, as the Gluttoness does as well, that the hire is a way to buy cheap publicity for the taco shack in question. Still, is this what being a Top Chef has come to? Somewhere, Sam Talbot must be sniggering. Rumor Mill [Gluttoness] Related: Will Ken Friedman Open a Restaurant With Ilan Hall?

The New Face of ‘Hell's Kitchen’ Not So Hellish Anymore

Marco Pierre White
Gordon Ramsay is a cruel, profane, rampaging jerk — which is why the world loves him. (It can’t be his food, which most critics consider by-the-book classic French.) So how can you replace a guy like that? That’s the problem the producers of Hell’s Kitchen faced, and they solved it by bringing in Marco Pierre White, Ramsay’s former mentor, then enemy. The problem is that, by all reports, White is a changed man, calm and peaceful in his middle age. Even in his prime, he was never as outrageously abusive as Ramsay. We don’t think he’ll be nearly as entertaining. Hell’s Kitchen (Review) [Sydney Morning Herald]

Women Rule the Wine Cellars of New York

Two of this season’s most anticipated restaurants — the three-star Dovetail and Ed Brown’s Eighty One — launched with female sommeliers. Former Daniel sommelier and wineshop owner Jean Luc Le Dû recently remarked to Grub Street that only a few years ago, non-white males in the role were considered an anomaly. Today, only three women (and 21 men) in the United States have the coveted “Master of Wine” designation, awarded to 264 sommeliers throughout the world. But in New York, women helm some of the city’s most respected wine programs, including Gramercy Tavern, the Modern, and the entire B.R. Guest group. We interviewed several of these ladies of the cellar for their ideas on the industry, their experiences on the floor, and picks on retail value bottles. Look for them at restaurants near you. —Alexandra Vallis Slideshow: Women in Wine

Anthony Bourdain Officially Overexposed

Anthony Bourdain
Copyranter came across this ad of a floating Tony Bourdain gazing at us from tropical waters. Like the image of a hirsute Tom Colicchio, we find it discomfiting. This is one of several ads touting the Travel Channel’s high-definition programming. Presumably, if you have a hi-def TV, you’ll be able to see more of Bourdain than you’d ever want. ...and some things are not [Copyranter]

‘Nightline’ Exposes Tom Colicchio’s Hirsute Past

Tom Colicchio
Nightline did a loving, lingering profile of Craft chieftain Tom Colicchio last night, and the substance of the piece is on ABC’s Website today. It’s all interesting stuff — why Colicchio loves mushrooms, how he developed his style, his rough-and-tumble boyhood and all that — but the real value in the story is this truly bizarre picture of Colicchio with hair! It’s a strange, unsettling image, and the sooner we forget it, the better we’ll feel. Nightline Platelist: Tom Colicchio [ABC]

The Tap Project Needs Your Restaurant

The Tap Project, a UNICEF charity we’ve supported in the past, has a simple and elegant premise: If people paid one dollar for tap water in restaurants for a week, it would pay for a lot of clean drinking water in Third World countries. You can’t complain about the price — in New York, our tap water tastes better than a lot of brands that cost more. But UNICEF is looking for more participants to join the effort during World Water Week, March 16 to March 22. If you own or operate a restaurant, contact the Tap Project. You’ll be in good company: Participating establishments include Esca, Le Bernardin, and Gramercy Tavern.

New Novel Immortalizes Schiller’s Liquor Bar. Or Does It?

We’re currently reading Lush Life, novelist Richard Price’s tale of life and death on the LES. The plot centers on Eric Cash, the manager of Café Berkman, a thinly veiled take on Schiller’s Liquor Bar. At least, we think it’s Schiller’s:
On bright quiet mornings like this, when Berkmann’s was empty, delivered from the previous night’s overpacked boozy franticness, the place was an air palace, and there was nowhere better to be in this neighborhood than sitting in a lacquered wicker chair immersed in the serene luxury of a café au lait and the New York Times, sunlight splashing off the glazed ecru tiles, the racks of cryptically stencil-numbered wine bottles, the industrial-grade chicken-wired glass and partially desilvered mirrors, all found in various warehouses in New Jersey, by the owner, Harry Steele: restaurant dressed as theater dressed as nostalgia.
Does this sound like Schiller’s to you? Or is this a composite of other downtown nightspots? Your thoughts, please, in the comments.

Global Warming Endangers Black Truffles; Gourmands Despair at God’s Indifference to Suffering

We had a good bit of sport over the astronomical prices paid this past summer for white truffles in New York restaurants. But what if their black cousins, long the déclassé branch of the family, became even more expensive? Or disappeared entirely? That wouldn’t be so funny. And it wouldn’t be good for the price of white truffles, which, like Beluga caviar and shark-fin soup, could become a purely plutocratic pleasure sooner than we expected. (Not that truffles are evil in the way of Beluga caviar and shark-fin soup; we’re just thinking of endangered luxury foods, you understand.) An article in USA Today suggests that the global warming is currently bringing the hammer down on black-truffle production and that (gasp) “France's black truffle will one day be just a memory.” It’s a similar story around the world, as fish stocks are depleted, ecosystems are knocked out of whack, and global demand for things like toro and truffles move beyond a small cluster of ascot-wearing bons vivants.

Japanese Grasp Universal Truth of Michelin’s Uselessness

Tokyo has had a taste of Michelin madness, we read in the Times yesterday, and didn’t like it much better than we did. (We wrote, at some length, of the banality and misjudgments which marred the famed restaurant guide last year.) We can’t speak to the accuracy of Michelin’s Tokyo picks, but we would have bet dollars to doughnuts that the Japanese could, and sure enough, the Times finds people to say as much: “Japanese food was created here, and only Japanese know it,” one chef is quoted as saying. “How can a bunch of foreigners show up and tell us what is good or bad?” Not to put too fine a point on it! The other interesting part is that Tokyo, which has six times as many restaurants as New York, is unhesitatingly pronounced by Michelin chief Jean-Luc Naret as the top restaurant city in the world. Which isn’t going to go over very well in Paris, or for that matter here. Something tells us Michelin should have stayed in France. Michelin Gives Stars, but Tokyo Turns Up Nose [NYT] Related: How to Eat in Tokyo, Michelin Capital of the World Michelin: Gastronomic Bible Reads Like In-Flight Advertorial

South Beach Wine & Food Festival Coming to Meatpacking

We had heard that New York was to have its own version of the South Beach Wine & Food Festival (minus the sunshine, ocean, flowing sea breeze, and so on, of course). But only in paging through the Sunday Times at Jerry's Deli on Collins Avenue did we find this tidbit, from the big SOBE style section: “A version of the festival will soon be headed north. Last week Mr. Schrager came to an agreement with New York officials to run a two-day food festival in the meatpacking district on Columbus Day weekend. ‘We're going to close Ninth Avenue,’ he said.” Now that is good news. It's high time that Ninth Avenue was closed. To see our up-to-the-minute coverage of SOBE this past few days, click here. Calling All Rock Stars in Aprons [NYT]

Shipwrecked With Padma Lakshmi

Padma Lakshmi
We met Top Chef hostess Padma Lakshmi on a yacht in Miami Beach yesterday. No, it was not a private cruise. Padma was shilling Vacheron watches and graced us with a brief interview. I see they have a menu on the yacht tonight that is your doing. I didn’t cook this menu. But if you try some of the recipes from my book, I know you’ll enjoy them. Eh, I probably won’t. They’re all for healthy little salads and curries and so forth, right? Uh, no! This just proves that you haven’t even opened my book up! [Laughing.] The best recipe in it is for brisket wrapped in bacon.

Bourdain Gives NYC Restaurant Picks (Again)

Fodor’s goes to the Tony Bourdain well today for the latest in their “Top Chef Travels” feature, and though it’s all probably stuff you’ve heard him enthuse about before (Barney Greengrass, Ssäm Bar, Del Posto), we did enjoy his curmudgeonly take on the city’s live-music scene: “I don't know which is worse: to be packed in a room with a lot of people half your age, in which case you feel like an idiot, or even worse, go see someone you've really loved for a long time, like Elvis Costello, and you look around and see all the other original fans and they're all old and hideous just like you.” Top Chef Travels — Anthony Bourdain [Fodor's]

Sietsema Says ‘Iron Chef’ Less Than Transparent

As promised, the Voice’s Robert Sietsema blows the lid off Iron Chef, in a very long and detailed account of an Iron Chef taping. According to Sietsema, the chefs know what they’re going to do, recook everything for the judges, and the whole thing is fixed anyway. It’s a pretty deflating account, but for Iron Chef viewers, it’s a must-read. Unless they like the show. Iron Chef Boyardee [VV] Earlier: Sietsema to Blow the Lid Off ‘Iron Chef’ Tomorrow

Who Is This Man? And Where Does He Work?

Having seen an advance screener of the Top Chef premiere, we’re all set and ready to dig in and immerse ourselves in the show’s patented straight-faced lunacy this season. But something is getting in the way. The most annoying of the new cheftestants — this season’s Howie — is the high-strung Andrew, supposedly a cook somewhere here in New York. But where? His Top Chef bio calls him a “Sous Chef in NYC,” but no one seems to be able to give us a hint of where. (One tipster seemed to think that it was at Tocqueville, but the lead was a dead end: Jo Ann Makovitzky, Tocqueville’s co-owner, tells us, “He does not look familiar to me.”) Have you seen this man? Tell us all about him in the comments. Top Chef Cheftestant Bio: Andrew [Bravo] Related: What to Expect From the New ‘Top Chef’ Update: The mystery has been solved. An Eater reader has IDed Andrew D'Ambrosi as a sous chef at Le Cirque.

Golden Clog Nominees Announced to Industry’s Amusement, Dismay

Tony Bourdain and Michael Ruhlmann, the scourges of the restaurant business, are at it again. The pair's facetious awards, the Golden Clogs, will be given away this Friday at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival. We speculated last fall about who the possible nominees might be, but Bourdain’s complete list — with commentary — is on Eater. Some of our favorites are below.

Martha Stewart Acquires Emeril, Looks Around for Whom to Eat Next

In what can only be called a case of intra-celebrity-chef warfare, Martha Stewart Omnimedia has swallowed up Emeril Lagasse's TV properties, including Emeril Live and The Essence of Emeril as well as Emeril's various cookbooks and other assorted Emeril-related media. We're glad to see that the diminutive chef is going to see a big payday for his shows, the production of which was recently canceled by the Food Network. (Old episodes should continue to fill the airwaves until the sun turns red.) This move signals a resurgence of the Martha juggernaut, however. Something tells us that this isn't the last big acquisition she will be making. Watch out, Rachael Ray! Martha is back. Martha Stewart to buy TV chef's media properties: report [Reuters]