Bad: Grant Achatz says he has been diagnosed with an advanced-stage of carcinoma of the mouth. Grant is the chef at Chicago’s Alinea restaurant, an eatery that for the last two years has been, to my mind, the most important restaurant in the country. My meals at Alinea have been nothing short of revelatory, and Grant’s cuisine is, for me, the perfect blend of classical and experimental. Achatz, the winner of the James Beard Foundation's Best Chef award for the Great Lakes region this last year, also won the foundation's Rising Star Chef award in 2003. I am sure that everyone will send their good vibes to Grant and his family.
Good: Doug Flicker fans eager to sample something with more meat on the bone than the current menu fare at Mission American Kitchen can call or visit Mission's website to make reservations for Doug’s new chef’s dinners that are being offered on weekends. This is great news for the food obsessed . . . like me.
Sad and Bad: CNN International bureau reported last night that Mexican farmers are tilling under the agave cacti that they have planted in large quantities over the last three to five years to make high-end tequilas for the growing demand here and abroad (the cacti take six years to mature). And guess what? They are planting corn in those old cactus fields in order to supply ethanol plants, cashing in on the high prices on maize. And guess where they are selling most of it??? Right here in America, where we are subsidizing American farmers to grow corn at a staggering rate . . . but now our government will be double-dipping, and soon the American farmer will be getting hosed just like so many other subsidized American businesses who eventually get undercut by imports (aquaculture was one), proving once again that no one in Washington knows what they are doing.
Good and Glad: Some media inside stuff that I find fascinating . . . . CNN's YouTube debates brought in the intended younger 18–34 demo. A total of 407,000 young folks tuned in—a record for the demo for a debate televised on cable news. The telecast averaged 2.6 million viewers overall, according to Nielsen, placing it just behind CNN's June 3 Democratic debates in New Hampshire (which averaged 2.8 million viewers.) That’s a cool thing.
NBC Digital Entertainment announced new digital extensions for its fall line up of new and returning shows last week. Highlights include:
Bionic Woman – A weekly "anatomy of a scene" feature will go behind the scenes and show users how scenes are filmed using camera tricks, special effects, and other secrets.
Chuck – Chuck's "brain" will host hotspots that reveal top-secret government information and bonus videos. NerdHerdHelp.com will host additional exclusive content.
Journeyman – Look for an interactive online video timeline, an online trivia quiz, and "then" and "now" photos.
Life – Fans will be able to further investigate Billy's conspiracy wall as he learns more about who put him behind bars. Users will also enjoy Billy's online "Zen Guide To Life."
30 Rock – Kenneth the Page will give users a tour of NBC and "TGS" ("The Girly Show"). Frank will also blog from the writer's room.
Deal or No Deal – Fans will catch up with their favorite winners and see how they spent their winnings through a web-exclusive series that follows up and tracks past contestants.
Las Vegas – A "making of" Production Video Diary that will give users a behind-the-scenes look at everything from the racy costume department to set design.
Why is this news, as any TV insider knows that everyone is creating massive video and film commitments available online? Because guys like Joost cofounder Niklas Zennstrom said at a press event in Estonia that the P2P TV-sharing service he owns has attracted more than one million beta testers. Joost will launch by December, and when it does, it will bring a flood of competition. By March 2008, you will be able to download TV and film with ease and watch TV from any PC with the right hardware/software, even from your own cable provider. The huge investments that traditional media companies are making is staggering.
Sad and Bad: Anyone wanting to read more about food and fuel issues and rising prices all across the board should check out this Texas NBC affiliate looking at supply issues and the rising cost of dairy.
With so many restaurants opening and closing, articles like this pop up all over the net. I know that Lessley was writing something fluffy and tongue-in-cheek on Chow, but it does raise some bigger issues.
I know it’s unpopular to many who think that we can ignore the obvious and shouldn’t talk about the 500-pound gorilla in the room, but many restaurants open and you know that it is just a matter of time before they close . . . sad, but true. For example, is anyone going to Temple to eat dinner these days? If they don’t get some bodies in there, it will simply cannibalize Pham's other restaurants from a cash standpoint. When the owner has to go into the kitchen because he fired the chef, it is never a good sign, I don’t care what anyone says. In a healthy restaurant he would hire another quality chef. Send in your suggestions for restaurants that are on life support in one way or another. I’d love to hear your view.