Chef's tables used to be the final word on special treatment: the one table in a good restaurant to which the chef paid personal attention. But as the entertainment ante is upped each year blurring the line between gastronomy and theater chef's tables have given way to the even more intimate chef's counters. There, the lucky diner sits only a few feet of burnished wood away from the action. From the high-end bar at L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon to the counter-only option at Momofuku Ko, diners are eager to see the sausage being made. Here are a few of our favorite counters, each an example of the narrow border between feeder and fed.
Anyone who knows Paul Grieco will tell you that he is patently insane. Final proof, if any were needed, lies in this video promoting his new wine bar, Terroir. Grieco, the co-owner, manager, and wine director of both Hearth and Insieme, is the mad genius of the city’s wine corps, and Terroir is his padded cell and laboratory. The teaser site gives some hint of the white-knuckle wine-geek intensity that courses through Grieco’s veins: Among the vitriolic mottos that flash are “Our wine world is now dominated by over-manipulated, oak-chip-flavored, micro-oxygenated wines that have nothing to do with what Mother Nature, God, or the Cistercian Fathers had in mind” and “To go to Friuli for red wine is like going to Las Vegas and expecting to catch Arthur Miller's The Crucible.” But to really get a measure of his madness, watch this video. You won’t be sorry.
Related: Wine-Geek Heaven on the Way to the East VillageREAD MORE »
Each week, we'll be highlighting one of the great but obscure young chefs who are actually running one of the city's major restaurants. .
Name: Jordan Frosolone
Restaurant: HearthBackground: Forsolone, a native Chicagoan, put in time at Coco Pazzo, Blackbird, and Nomi, before hitting Italy for a year of heavy duty in Florence and Umbria. He then started in as a line cook for the famously demanding Marco Canora, at Hearth. When Canora went uptown to open Insieme, Forsolone was promoted to chef de cuisine and given the keys to Hearth.
Style: “I’m definitely in love with the greenmarket. Focused and balanced Italian and southern French.”
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It’s been a while since we first got wind of it, but the Hearth's long-awaited spinoff wine bar, Terroir, is finally close to becoming a reality. The space, known in its former life as Bikes by George, will begin its transformation right after Thanksgiving, and co-owners Paul Grieco and Marco Canora hope to open the place by New Year’s. Grieco, the wine director, is a wine geek’s wine geek, which means he's got some lofty plans.
Dear Grub Street,
I'm in New York on business for a little while and will have the opportunity to try a handful of restaurants while I'm here. What are some of the top spots in the city where the chef whose name is on the door is still in the kitchen? I've eaten at both Lupa and Otto, but I imagine Mr. Batali's clogs haven't graced either kitchen in some time (though the food and service at both were excellent, especially Frank behind the bar at Otto). It's not that I need to see a celebrity chef in person … I just want to try good food from good chefs who are still plying their trade. For example, my understanding is that Wylie Dufresne actually still works at wd-50 every day, and, as you recently mentioned in one post, Eric Ripert is always in the kitchen at Le Bernardin. Anywhere else?
Meet the Chef
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If there's something you can think of better than going up to Arthur Avenue in the Bronx in a big white Buick, for the express purpose of eating sandwiches with your two favorite Italian chefs, then we would like to know what it is. We heeded our lust for salumi and mozzarella and recorded the results for Grub Street posterity. .
Roving Chef: Arthur Avenue [Video]
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I am attempting to find establishments that have a table in their kitchens. I have a teenager who is interested in the industry and I thought this would be fun to do together!
An Encouraging Mother
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