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Why Not to Be a Chef

Expect to get burned, be on your feet all the time, and spend all your time cleaning fish. Other than that, it's great!

New York Chefs Confront Rising Food Costs With Whip and Chair

Food costs go up and up, but prices — especially high ones — aren’t supposed to. Given that the rent in most New York restaurants isn’t going to come down anytime soon, this creates a problem for owners. The Wall Street Journal did an excellent feature on this subject on Saturday, showing how some restaurants were dealing with it — Blue Water Grill's selling beef trimmings as part of a chipotle roll, for example, or Ssäm Bar's dropping truffles. But we were curious about how some of the other chefs we know, particularly those with a well-heeled clientele, are making do. So we asked around, and here's what we heard.

Top Chef Hung Huynh Has the ‘Most Amazing Chinese Meal Ever’

Last season’s Top Chef winner Hung Huynh, who previously cooked at Per Se, Gilt, Manhattan Ocean Club, and others, is back from a year and a half at Guy Savoy in Las Vegas — this week he started as executive chef at Solo. The Mediterranean-Asian restaurant happens to be kosher, meaning Huynh can’t use his beloved fish sauce or sherry vinegar. “I’m pretty limited to proteins,” he tells us. “I have to be a little bit more creative with my flavor profiles.” If Padma and Tom paid a visit, he says, he’d probably serve them his sweetbreads glazed with truffles and served with lemon-honey carrots. But forget what he’s cooking; we’re more interested in what he ate this week.

Tony Bourdain's Kitchen Is Just Like Yours; New York Chefs Cook for 50 Cent

Self-styled badass chef Tony Bourdain plays 20 Questions, revealing that he lives with his wife and daughter on the Upper East Side these days — “proximity to Baby Gap is a priority” — and has a kitchen that is “small and functional and very crowded with baby food, cat food, a few essentials.” [Chicago Tribune] Frank Bruni takes a moment to sort through the piles of food-related tomes that landed on his desk this year, finding his favorites to be David Kamp’s The Food Snob’s Dictionary and the recently released Secret Ingredients: The New Yorker Book of Food and Drink. [Diner’s Journal/NYT] Related: David Kamp Adds Two More Entries to the Food Snob’s Dictionary A recent NYU grad is suing Times Square club Arena for $2 million over a June incident in which he was overcharged by $1,000, beat up by the bouncer, and arrested for not buying enough alcohol. [NYP]

Gilt Besieged by ‘Gossip Girl’ Wannabes; More of the Old East Village to Die

The bar at Gilt is besieged by “a parade of ripe Lolitas,” all clamoring for cocktails like their idols on Gossip Girl. Unhappily for the nymphets, and any well-heeled Humbert Humberts who happen to be hanging around, you have to be 21 to drink in the real-world version of the bar. [Insatiable Critic] Two of the last holdouts of the old East Village, Sophie's and Mona's, are both for sale. What will replace them? Trustafarian discos? Hookah bars? Collegiate-style ale houses? Somewhere Rockets Redglare is rolling in his grave. [NYP] To help allay the bitterness of exile, the New York Food Anywhere blog will show you where to find New York food in places that aren't New York. It's depressing, but it does make you appreciate the fact that you don't need to use it. [New York Food Anywhere via Serious Eats]

Gilt's ‘Gossip Girl’ Grilled Cheese

Gilt
Gilt’s ultra-luxe opulence, known previously mostly to gastronomes and jet-setting bons vivants, entered the national consciousness via Gossip Girl ’s slimiest character, the monstrous Chuck Bass, who lives in his father’s hotel, the New York Palace. Though never named, Gilt is frequently shown as a hangout for the show's telegenic young plutocrats, and in the pilot episode Chuck ordered a truffled grilled cheese sandwich from Gilt chef Chris Lee. Of course, the sandwich was for the drunk and beautiful Serena van der Woodsen, who Chuck later tried to rape. The sandwich went from TV to reality, and it's now a popular menu item at Gilt, for the low price of $50 a shot. As always, mouse over the different parts of the dish to hear it described in the chef's own words.

No Plaza for Graydon; Mr. Rachael Ray Drops $35K for Lunchbox

Graydon Carter won’t be taking over the Plaza’s Oak Room, so you’ll still have to head downtown to the Waverly Inn for that truffled macaroni and cheese. [NYP] Jean-Georges Vongerichten seeks the elusive fifth taste by serving “umami bombs” at his restaurants. [WSJ] Related: Waiter, There’s a Fifth Element in My Soup It’s possible that locally grown products have a comparable or even greater carbon footprint than food that travels long distances, so you can stop patting yourself on the back for being a greenmarket fanatic. [NYT] Related: Local Schmocal [NYM]

Bobby Flay Enters the Burger Game; Serendipity 3 Reopens

Bobby Flay is entering the upscale-burger game with a chain of restaurants called Bobby’s Burger Palace. [GlobeSt.com via A Hamburger Today] Gossip Girl fanatics will be happy to know that Gilt has added Serena’s much-beloved grilled cheese with truffle oil to the bar menu. Only $50! [Zagat] Related: Is ‘Gossip Girl’ the Most Restauranty Show Since ‘Sex and the City’? The Times says the entrée is on its way out at restaurants all over the country, thanks to a loss of interest in “big, protein-laden main dishes.” [NYT]

Eight-Cent Falafels Worth Every Penny in the East Village; Chris Lee Has a Bigger Truffle Than Sirio Maccioni

Cobble Hill: Sahadi’s might have a fancy new sign to flaunt at Trader Joe’s, but are they cutting corners to compete? The Brooklyn Paper reports that customers are "fuming that the grocer has replaced the classic glass jars with generic plastic containers in the nuts, dried fruits and candies section." [Brooklyn Heights Blog] East Village: Next Friday, Tasty Falafel on St. Marks Place will sell sandwiches for 8 cents each from 4 to 9 p.m. and host a falafel-eating contest at 6. [Gridskipper] Lower East Side: A new wine bar is on the way, and Gino and Guido are now accepting applications in the TRE space at 173 Ludlow. [Eat for Victory/VV] Midtown East: Gilt has announced that chef Chris Lee has spent $8,000 on a 1.51-pound white truffle, which is “significantly larger than the truffle that Sirio Maccioni of Le Cirque won in a highly publicized October bidding.” We wonder what GM Elli Jafari thinks about that tougher tuber. [Bottomless Dish/Citysearch] Upper East Side: Serendipity 3 has pushed back its reopening from tonight to December 5, after being closed by the DOH. [Eater]

Gael Greene's Secrets of Restaurant Seduction

If there’s one thing you can count on Gael Greene to deliver, it’s tales of seduction by food — and her latest post has it in spades. This time, it’s from the male point of view, as Gael offers a “service feature on seduction,” courtesy of her friend Francesco, “the teflon Romeo, in and out of love constantly, an outright chauvinist pig, in fact, but as a pal, really fun, full of zest and unfailingly loyal.” Francesco’s advice includes the following helpful tips:

Liebrandt Previews New Restaurant at Autism Benefit

Paul Liebrandt
Last Night's "Autism Speaks to Wall Street" gala at Capitale was a power scene, all right; any event where tables cost up to $100,000 and Bob Wright is there making small talk has clearly left the foodies behind. Which is a shame, because the level of the food was magnificent. The gala's format called for chefs who had been previously “bought” at auction to cook a dinner right there at the table: Thus, Eric Ripert cooked at an oven right next to Wylie Dufresne, Michael Psilakis next to Larry Forgione, who was next to Chris Lee of Gilt, and so on. The tables were close enough to allow tasting and trading, had anyone been interested in doing so (it didn't look like they were). Maybe Darrell Hammond's painfully unfunny routine at the evening's start put off their appetites. Or maybe it was just all the deal-making.

Jimmy's Secret Chef Performs Culinary Miracles in the East Village

We always like Jimmy's — the Belgian beers, the sausage plates, the occasional bacon tasting. But nothing could have prepared us for our recent discovery of a living, breathing young chef working gastronomic magic in Jimmy’s ultraprimitive kitchen. Using only two hot plates and a toaster oven, Philip Kirschen-Clark, the former fish man at wd-50, is making surprising, inventive dishes every night at the East Village bar.

Is ‘Gossip Girl’ the Most Restauranty Show Since ‘Sex and the City’?

Gossip Girls
When we spoke to Gilt waiter Chris Wilgos the other day, he had colorful things to say about his old-timer patrons, but the place played to the teens in last night’s premiere episode of Gossip Girl. In one clip, a prep student whose parents supposedly own the place hilariously bribes a cook to make his date her favorite dish: a grilled cheese sandwich with truffle oil. Watch as our hero Serena van der Woodsen downs a martini faster than you can say “extra dirty.” Really, Gilt? Really? Serving minors? Either way, between this, the dinner scene at Geisha, and (believe it) the sex scene at the Campbell Apartment, we’re confident this show will spark the most exclamations of “Hey! I’ve eaten there!” since Sex and the City. After the jump, the kids take over Gilt.

Chris Wilgos of Gilt Serves the Anonymous Superrich

Chris Wilgos
Under chef Christopher Lee, Chris Wilgos worked his way up from a runner to a captain at Philadelphia’s premier restaurant, the Striped Bass. When Lee replaced chef Paul Liebrandt at Gilt about a year ago, Wilgos followed. He’s been waiting tables and acting here ever since. We asked him about his wealthy clientele and those who yearn for Le Cirque.