We’re always leery of the strange, strange world of Abbe Diaz and her online forum, PX This, but a media alert titled “Blogger Tossed From Jean Georges” was difficult to resist. As you might expect, Diaz — a former maître d’ at Jean Georges who wrote a dishy book about her experiences in the business — was in fact the blogger tossed, a cringe-inducing event publicized by the pilloried herself. (All of Diaz’s entries on PX This read like interminable text messages tapped out by the jittery, manicured thumbnails of an ex-model at Rose Bar at 4 a.m.) We include it here entirely for purposes of education: Remember, if you dog someone you worked for in a book, don’t go to his restaurant unless you know he won’t be around.
"Abbe, Maybe You Should Think About…" [PXThis]
Related:Is Abbe Diaz Behind "Sympathy for the Restaurant Industry?"
The Man Who Ate the World, British restaurant critic Jay Rayner’s tour of the planet's great restaurant cities will be coming out soon, as Gawker noted yesterday. Its piece lingered over Super Mario’s latest profanity-laced anti-blogger tirade, which was almost as enjoyable as his last one. But having read the New York chapter, we were hit by how much other good stuff was in it.
Top Chef has announced its new cheftestants, and we, like everybody else who got the press release, were delighted to see that there are even more NYC cooks than ever before, from restaurants including Mai House, Buddakan, Public, 24 Prince, and Dos Caminos. You can’t go by where they work, though: Among last season's rivals, Casey was a “personal chef,” whatever that means, and made it to finale, while poor Lia was at Jean Georges and got bounced halfway through the season. Still, we’re already thinking deeply about this crew — and looking forward to making fun of them in IM conversations a few months hence.
'Top Chef' Chicago Premieres in March [Bravo press release]
Related: Adam Platt Was Right About ‘Top Chef’ All Along
Major developments on the pastry front: Del Posto's head pastry chef, Nicole Kaplan, who soared to fame as the chef at Eleven Madison Park (and, incidentally, as the creator of the Shake Shack's custard), has left the restaurant. We had heard that it was to head the dessert program at the St. Regis Hotel or, possibly, one of its restaurants, but the hotel denies this. (We’re still trying to reach Kaplan.) Del Posto GM Alfredo Ruiz confirms that Kaplan has been gone since January 1, but that her full staff is still in place and doing her menu as before. Co-owner Joe Bastianich says, “The split was amicable, and we wish Nicole nothing but the best in everything she does.” Bastianich added that the restaurant is looking at a couple of people and that, when the hire does happen, it will be “big news.”
Jean Georges isn’t a restaurant known for its attachment to experimental cuisine; if anything, J-G Vongerichten’s highly formal flagship is considered a bastion of old-school tablecloth dining. But Vongerichten has always been in the gastronomic vanguard, and he and chef de cuisine Mark Lapico are among the city’s most ardent admirers of the CVap oven, a controlled-humidity technology they use so much that there's three of them in the kitchen.
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:
After we had some sport with Johnny Iuzzini earlier this week, the dessert master was pretty steamed — he even asked us to take him off our list. No problem, but wouldn’t you have thought we would be off his? Not so! Yesterday brought us our long-awaited issue of “See What’s Up With Johnny,” the official Johnny Iuzzini newsletter. “As usual, Johnny has been receiving quite a lot of buzz,” it assured us, going on to quote Grub Street as calling the tattooed wunderkind “the most influential dessert chef working today.”
We were still trying to make up our mind whether the Daily News’ “New York’s Sexiest Chef” contest was for real or not, when we got an e-mail blast from nominee Johnny Iuzzini, last seen wearing a meringue body stocking on his stylish Website. It read: “Check out todays ny daily news- get a hard copy. Register to see all the chefs and pics and vote!!!!”
Boerum Hill: Now that Trout has taken over Gravy, the new menu is not surprisingly chock-full of fish dishes. [Bergen Carroll]
Midtown East: Richard Sandoval’s restaurants including Pampano are celebrating Day of the Dead through November 2 with specialty foods like pan de muertos, which is a sweet bread that’s baked to look like a skull! [Grub Street]
Midtown West: At convivial spot La Bonne Soup, which has been a French staple on West 55th Street since 1974, you can have a soup, salad, bread, dessert, and a glass of wine for $16.75, only slightly more than half the price of lunch at Jean Georges. [Lost City]
Nolita: D.J. Mark Ronson has designed a playlist specifically for Noble Food & Wine. Dinner gets it own soundtrack. [Down by the Hipster]
Tribeca: A Murray's Bagel partner is opening Original Zucker’s Bagels & Smoked Fish on Chambers Street at the end of November. [NYS]
Upper West Side: The Triad Theater is now promoting a new musical called Wine Lover. The audience will sample six wines throughout the performance. [Snack]
Cuozzo fantasizes about the possible successes Jeffrey Chodorow could develop if he signs a lease on the enormous space at Broadway and 63rd Street. They include stellar risotto, traditional dim sum, and haute Lebanese — if only he doesn’t “blow it on another howler like Rocco’s or a limping dud like Kobe Club.” [NYP]
A Queens dumpling celebrity, a chef in northern China before transplanting to the U.S., has been persuaded to supply her specialty to TKettle on St. Marks Place. Get there early, though; she’s only agreed to hand-make 1,000 per day for the bubble-tea shop. [Eat for Victory/VV]
Two young female patrons of the Box have been abducted from outside the club and raped on separate occasions in less than a month, and the predator has not been apprehended. [NYP]
When Jean-Georges Vongerichten retooled his namesake restaurant, his lighting designer Herve Descottes wanted, in his words, “to bring a little bit of attention to the center of the room” and boy did he! The Frenchman spent six months and over $40,000 working with Seattle firm Neidhart Lighting to create a steel fixture that looks like a shitake mushroom and is also “a little bit sensual.” Each lamp is trimmed with reflective gold leaf. Three 35-watt halogen bulbs are controlled by a computer, with different settings for lunch, early dinner, and post–8 p.m., when the light is softest because there’s no competing sunlight. Installing the arms wasn’t exactly a breeze: “They were dancing a little bit,” says Descottes. It looks like they still are but then maybe that’s just the Mouton buzz.
Johnny Iuzzini of Jean Georges is one of the leading figures in the modern Dessert Revolution and arguably the most influential dessert chef working today. Typically, any meal at Jean Georges ends with one of four dessert tastings four dishes united by a single theme. While summer strawberries last (likely another two or three weeks), this strawberry tasting will be available for both lunch and dinner. “The idea is to show how versatile strawberries are,” Iuzzini says. “There are so many ways to manipulate it and yet still maintain its integrity.” As always, mouse over the different desserts to hear them described in the chef’s own words.
Dear Grub Street,
The Upper West Side is teeming with activity, as is every other area of Manhattan, but I very rarely see anything on the Upper East Side. What have you got against the several hundred thousand people who live there and their restaurants and chefs?
A reader with a valid gripe.
Last night’s Top Chef claimed Tre Wilcox, the affable Texas chef and audience favorite. Acting as executive chef for Restaurant April, three of his dishes bombed and the judges reluctantly singled him out as the night’s loser. He spoke with us about his new female fans and why he thinks Hung will become this season’s Top Chef.
Apples, apples everywhere, but not an immigrant to pick them, New York growers fear. [NYT]
A federal appeals court has postponed the Whole Foods-Wild Oats merger "arguing that it would reduce competition and increase prices in the marketplace for natural and organic foods." And here, we thought "Project Goldmine" would benefit the customer. [NYT]
Let us weep for the carnies: trans fats have been banned in Indiana. State fairgoers ate deep-fried Snickers and Oreos cooked in “healthier” oils. [NYT]
Lia Bardeen, the second New Yorker sent packing in as many weeks, was eliminated last night after the judges described her polenta dish as “mush” and “inedible.” After her elimination, she talked to us about the self-appointed villain of the show and why the kitchen at Jean Georges is more stressful than competing on Top Chef.