Bravo to the folks at the James Beard Association for recognizing so many local chefs and restaurants this year. Then again, because our recently reconstructed region is considered the “big” food city, I think this will happen year after year (since most judges are more familiar with our city and its restaurants than, say, Indianapolis).
Any of your favorite chefs missing from the list? I am very happy for all the local talent listed. Finalists in all categories will be announced on March 22. I am hoping many of you can come to New York City for the Awards Galas on Sunday, May 2, and Monday, May 3. I will be co-hosting the Media Awards on Sunday with Kelly Choi from Top Chef Masters, and presenting something (they haven’t told me what) on Monday at the Restaurant/Chef/Food event as well. Alton Brown, Lidia Bastianich, and Wolfgang Puck are the hosts on Monday evening—should be a blast.
Think you cook for a demanding audience? How about having your food judged by a panel of culinary masterminds—Thomas Keller, Grant Achatz, André Soltner, Daniel Boulud, Susan Spicer, Paul Bartolotta—to name a few? Contestants cooking for the chance to represent America at the Bocuse d’Or in Lyon in January 2011 had to do just that. Here’s a JBA posted account of the Bocuse D’or USA event. Elissa Altman has another great read for all of you who care about food writing and the Internet.
Our March Mpls.St.Paul Restaurant Issue came out last week, and I particularly thought Adam Platt's profile on Phil Roberts was fascinating—Roberts is quite the force of nature. One thing occurred to me halfway into reading the column: Roberts has pitch-perfect sense of what appeals to the greatest number of local diners. His standards reflect a keen understanding that, at the end of the day, most diners in this town are more interested in appearance over reality, fluff over substance—and I mean that as a compliment. His eateries care little about vegetables because most diners only say that they do. Most diners publicly say they care about food quality, but in reality they only care about the price, the value, etc. He understands this market better than anyone, and I admire him immensely (despite the fact that I am most interested in food when I dine out).
What’s great about Phil is the discipline he has in separating his personal likes from his creativity in designing restaurant concepts. I spent an hour in his office talking once about Shanghai dumpling joints. I realized that he is very passionate about much of what he eats on his trips, and yet he could care less about truing up his Asian street food experiences with the menu at Chino, for example. Very interesting, indeed.
As for the top eateries feature, any glaring omissions you'd like to share with us?