Can someone remind us, again, when chefs became fashion icons? Was it when Esquire featured a spread of Simon Hammerstein and David Chang in tough-guy postures? Or maybe the Daily News’ “Sexiest Chef” contest was the turning point. Meanwhile, the last time we looked, chefs spent most of their time either wearing grease-splattered whites, or dressing in band t-shirts to show that they were rocking hard, and ever mod. But there’s no arguing with the genre of the chef fashion pictorial, and we have to say, this one, taken from the new Maxim, is pretty soigné. But why is Michael Psilakis wearing a suit in a refrigerator? Shouldn’t he have an overcoat on, at least? And why doesn't Craig Koketsu have a Pucci apron on, if he's butchering? And as for Sam Mason’s hippie-lothario duds, we can only nod our heads in mute, approving awe.
New York City's Hottest Young Chefs [Maxim]
Related: When Chefs Play Dress-Up
Could it be that our beloved godchild, Tailor, whose gestation we chronicled so patiently last year, is taking its first steady steps? After absorbing the blows of the blogosphere for its first months, it has made adjustments. First, mixologist Eben Freeman’s cocktail program acquired its own identity and made the downstairs bar a destination; then Sam Mason and Fran Derby got the message that nobody wanted to eat food the size of Kit Kats and expanded the portion size; and now, at last, Tailor has thrown in the towel on its pretense of low-key anonymity and put an honest-to-God sign up on the door. What's next? Big-screen TVs? Once the philistines get ahold of you, there's nothing left but prosperity and degradation.
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.”
Astoria: A new wine bar on 35th Avenue at 30th Street called Rest-au-Rant features about 30 wines and beers — from Germany, New Zealand, Hawaii, Belgium, and France. [Joey in Astoria]
Dumbo: Waterstreet Restaurant and Lounge hosts carolers and expects dancing till late tonight as part of a holiday shopping promotion throughout the nabe. [Dumbo NYC]
East Village: A photo tour of the magical workshop of "Sun Le, the dumpling master who makes TKettle’s juicy little masterpieces." [Eat for Victory/VV]
Lower East Side: Le Bernardin pastry chef Michael Laiskonis just had a great meal at Tailor and has "always been a fan of Sam Mason’s food." [Restaurant Girl]
West Village: The Bowery Hotel’s Eric Goode and Sean McPherson are rumored to have closed a deal on another boutique hotel, at an unknown location. [Down by the Hipster]
Bruni waited to be the last one to pronounce on Tailor, and his review pretty much recapitulates, albeit in wittier prose and with some much-appreciated Grub Street love, what everyone else has said: erratic brilliance, wee portions, and a killer cocktail program. The result: one star. [NYT]
Allen & Delancey keeps impressing the critics, at least with chef Neil Ferguson's meat mastery. His fish, though, is strictly from hunger, according to Restaurant Girl. [NYDN]
Randall Lane offers one of his most thoughtful and precise reviews of Allen & Delancey, finding fault only in flavor balances and the fact that the place has to close up at midnight. [TONY]
The city’s top dessert chefs, from Johnny Iuzzini on down, delighted deep-pocketed foodies with their signature confections at Sweet on Friday night. Evian and Ferro Rocher flexed their marketing muscle, dispatching well-formed young people in tight clothes to represent their not especially sexy brands. The pastry aristocracy (Goldfarb, Iuzzini, and Stupak) were all present and accounted for, standing proudly behind space-age-looking creations that tasted even better than they looked. (Only Sam Mason wasn’t around, as someone had to man the stoves at Tailor.) At first we were sort of alarmed: There were obviously many more guests than had originally been intended, for the long, narrow, space, but since cake isn’t combustible, it all seemed safe enough. A body can only take so much chocolate ganache, Champagne, and high-powered pastry cooks crammed into one hall.
Jeffrey Chodorow is devising a new megarestaurant for a 15,000-square-foot double-decker space in the Empire Hotel at Broadway and 63rd Street. In other news, Frank Bruni has already given it zero stars. [NYP]
Our pal Aaron Sanchez barely avoided being cut on the Next Iron Chef since according to Bourdain, Alton “Knowlton seems not to have disclosed a prior schoolyard incident with a young Aaron ‘El Guapo’ Sanchez — in which Sanchez (it would appear) bullied him mercilessly. He seemed unnaturally eager to send him packing.” [Ruhlman]
Williamsburg’s Hasidic community has its own street-food truck, but you too can buy the kosher grub. [Eat for Victory/VV]
Ah, how time gets away from us! It was only one year ago that Grub Street began. How we long for those innocent days of yore! We poked through our archives, and, while we had to put a few personal favorites aside, here’s our short list of Grub Street’s Greatest Hits.
Having documented nearly every stage of Tailor’s much-delayed development, we couldn’t very well pass up experiencing its promised joys. We attended last night’s soft opening, camera in one hand and Eben Freeman cocktail in the other. The official opening is tonight and more photos are after the jump.
Isn’t that just the way? Just weeks after we finally give up on Sam Mason, and then go on to have a little sport with him by way of his anonymously blogging portraitist, down comes the plywood on Tailor, with all systems apparently go for an August 30 opening. So reports one of Eater’s anonymous tipsters. But who are we to argue with their own eyes?
If you miss following Sam Mason’s quixotic adventures now that the Launch is kaput, fear not an anonymous blog Sympathy for the Restaurant Industry is offering “meta-fictional restaurant drama set in present day New York City, served in a convenient serial” and the first story details, in rather purple prose, the agonies of Sean Kasen (sounds kind of like Sam Mason if you mumble it, no?), a young, media-plagued chef opening his first restaurant who is up against “the punishment that comes when you attempt to create something perfect but fail” and also the fact that “being handsome and very talented when you are a chef is a burden.” Oh, the humanity!
In an effort to change its image as an “upscale Hooters,” Hawaiian Tropic Zone is hiring a beefy male staff "with personality." [NYDN]
Does Sam Mason need a new financial backer to open Tailor? Those delays cost major cash. [Down by the Hipster]
China has formed a cabinet-level committee to monitor food safety but still calls the national coverage of tainted exports “viciously sensationalized.” [NYT]
East Village: Pose with your favorite dumpling! The Rickshaw Dumpling Bar opening on East 8th Street will feature a black-and-white photo booth. [Eat for Victory/VV]
Hell’s Kitchen: Burgers and Cupcakes has opened Mitchel London Pizza next door. [Eater]
Lower East Side: Sam Mason may have plans to serve brown-butter whiskey at Tailor. [Down by the Hipster]
Soho: Yes, that is a yo-yo in the pocket of Balthazar executive chef Riad Nasr, and he plays with it between platings. [Downtown Express]
West Village: Pinkberry accused of seeking world domination for plans to open not just a new location on Sixth Avenue, but two others in the city in addition its four already thriving stores. [Gothamist]
In what might be the least surprising news of the summer, Will Goldfarb has told Grub Street that Room 4 Dessert, at least in its current location, is kaput. (The place has been closed for months, but Goldfarb has been promising it would reopen.) “We’re officially pulling the plug on 17 Cleveland Place,” the cake whiz tells us. “But we’re going to reopen, bigger and better, six months from today.” Goldfarb, theatrical as ever, refuses to disclose the location of the new place, except to say that it’s downtown “in another high-profile restaurant row.”
It’s time we finally admitted it: Our winding journey with Sam Mason has come to an end. Construction crews told a Grub Street staffer that the Tailor people plan for an August 6 opening. There might be some truth to this: The date’s not all that far off from the official “mid-August” projection we were recently given, and frankly, we’d sooner believe the laborers than publicists nervous over a massively hyped opening day. And so, we present this album of the magical moments we shared with Mason as he chased the dream of Tailor. If nothing else, we’ll have the memories.
Earlier: Sam Mason Has Maybe a Month or So to Visit Fire IslandThe Launch