Whoever posted a comment on Tuesday’s post questioning the notion that I would dare post a blog about the MTV VMAs, you need to remember Rule 62, and you should stop practicing contempt prior to investigation, or in this case judging a blog before it is written. So here it is: I was in Vegas, and I was backstage at the VMAs, and now you have me so eager to please you that I am a little ashamed to post about that experience. Perhaps someday in my memoirs. I will say, however, that there were 1,600 police deployed for the NBA All-Star Game and only about 500 for the VMAs. The All-Star Game featured nightly shootings on the streets of Las Vegas, and the VMAs featured Kid Rock and Tommy Lee pushing each other, each afraid to throw a punch at the other. Shameful pansies.
So Saturday night, I ate at L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon with PBS icon and Savvy Traveler Rudy Maxa and our respective SOs. The food was superb—anyone who can’t make it to the original Parisian version would do well to check it out in the MGM Grand. The cucumber gelee with cumin and thyme custard, the fresh anchovy and pepper pave, and the seared beef with his signature potatoes were all out of sight . . . almost as good as the lady behind us who NODDED OUT AT HER TABLE while her four dinner companions kept eating and pretended she was fine until they carried her out. Only in Vegas, baby.
The next night, Travel Channel hosted a dinner at Tao at the Venetian. Holy moly. This place was amazing, one of the most stunning restaurants I have ever seen. Three stories of open space, club, bar, sushi bar, restaurant—plus Diddy, Pharrel, Mischa Barton, and Jamie Foxx, just to name a few of the sightings. And the food was pretty tasty. I liked the crispy tuna rolls and the Peking duck in pancakes with scallions the best. Fiamma at the MGM was not as good as the original in New York, but it was still very good, and the room was even prettier than Tao’s. I have never sat in a room that did a better job of maintaining small pods of tables while still allowing you to see through the dining room from level to level. The restaurant is huge, but feels intimate.
A woman e-mailed me last week to ask:
. . . about Clancey's market in Linden Hills . . . and as [you're] a reporter and advocate for local foods (I'm a Slow Foods member), I thought that perhaps passing it on to you would be the best way to test its accuracy. Rumor has it that Greg Westergreen has been axed. That's probably more fact than gossip, but what I really want to know is if it's true that Kristin, the owner, is keeping all the recipes and products he developed over the years. Apparently, they never had any written contract, just an understanding that the shop was a team project, even she was the legal owner. Seems to me that the butcher makes the butcher shop, so I'm not sure if it will be able to retain it's quality if he's replaced. Anyhow, I'll be sorely disappointed if I found out that he was treated unfairly after working so hard to promote local foods. So much for the 'friendly neighborhood shop' reputation.
Okay, so my take is this: Greg’s e-mail to me said he is no longer at Clancey’s. He indicated that he and Kristin parted ways, but nothing more. And if he was fired, so be it. I’ve been fired from plenty of jobs, sometimes fairly, sometimes I had issues with it, but that’s life. It happens. I think you meant to say what you heard is more gossip than fact.
If he and Kristin had a business relationship where she was the controlling partner, owner, or signed his check in any way, and if Greg was an employee, then the recipes belong to the business. When I left Café Un Deux Trois after six or seven years in the kitchen, I left behind a large book of recipes. Michael Morse, the restaurant’s owner, is the one who got those, and he deserved to have them. They were his. He paid for them, because part of my job description was to create food for his company. Subsequent chefs in the restaurant used the recipes I left behind, and the menu at Landmarc (MM’s new place) looks very similar to the one he and I developed at 1-2-3. But that’s the way the business works. He used the recipes in perpetuity and still does, and I still make many of those dishes as well. Now had I developed a cookie or terrine recipe that I wanted to ‘own,’ I would have trademarked or copywritten it, depending on the legalities and the format of the product in question, and not served it in the restaurant at all. Any chef can do that.
The butcher does make the butcher shop. Kristin will live with her decision. Greg will make his living elsewhere, and his fans can follow him. And if the shop quality suffers, Clancey’s fans will also move on. That’s how the world works.
Who knows if he is being treated unfairly or not? I would say, don’t rush to judge. Greg sent me his resume asking if I knew of any jobs out there for him, and since he is so talented, I am sure there are plenty of restaurants or shops eager to employ him.
AND IF YOU REALLY BELIEVE IN SUPPORTING LOCAL FOODS, you should continue to shop at Clancey’s as long as you are happy with the product there. If we stopped eating or shopping at every food business that had some crazy owner-employee relationships, we wouldn’t be able to eat anywhere. Including my house and probably yours as well!
In our office, we look at The Amateur Gourmet often, but after all the heat between him and Mario, he has some interesting things to say about food blogging. Very interesting, considering his book is about to come out, so he's a food blogger going legit. This post talks about the differences between reviewing as a food blogger and then as a newspaper critic, likening it to one-night stands (food bloggers) vs. a more involved relationship (print critics). Pretty good stuff.
So, here are three cool dining reservations that you need to make for yourself . . .
According to the folks at LBV:
La Belle Vie is expanding beyond its front doors to host its first Pique-nique de Automne, Oct. 7, starting at 3 p.m. on the restaurant's front lawn. Guest will enjoy playing boules, listening to accordion music, and savoring Executive Chef Tim McKee's own pique-nique creations.
James Beard award nominee Chef McKee has created a special menu just for the event, including Grilled Leg of Lamb with Herbes de Provence, Fire Roasted Prawns with Saffron and Coriander, Rabbit and Porcini Sausages, Truffled Foie Gras Mousse, Grilled Poussin with Harissa and Honey, Grilled Bread with Tomato, Capers and Garlic.
Learn more on the LBV website.
The folks at the Graves are organizing a dinner at Cosmos featuring "Next Great Chefs of the Twin Cities," promising:
. . . it will be a dinner showcasing the talents of the next up-and-coming executive chefs or chef de cuisines, all new to their positions but creating excellent cuisine. The dinner will benefit the Heartland Food Network and will be held on October 10, 2007. The list of the participating chefs is Hakan Lundberg, Chef de Cuisine at Cosmos; Eric Sturtz, Chef de Cuisine at Café Levain; Landon Schoenfeld, Chef de Cuisine at Barbette; Leonard Anderson, Executive Chef at W.A. Frost; and Dianna Yang, the Pastry Chef at La Belle Vie & Solera.
According to the folks at Fugaise:
. . . we will be celebrating our two-year anniversary later this month. As you know, this is no small feat for "white linen" places such as ours. So again, on behalf of everyone here at Fugaise, thank you for your support. To that end, we would also like to invite you to celebrate the occasion with us on Wednesday, September 26. Chef Don has pulled out the menu archive. He is featuring some of the highlights from the past year in two tasting menus to be offered on the night mentioned above. There will be an early seating at 5:30 p.m., when a five-course menu will be offered, and a later seating at 8:15 p.m. for seven courses. Wine pairings will be available as well.
The earlier menu is:
Scallops with Salsify, Butter Lettuce, Sauce Choron
Skatewing with King Crab, Roasted Red Pepper, and Herb Pan Sauce
Wild Boar Ravioli with Black Mission Fig, Raddichio, and Aged Balsamic
Rack of Lamb Imam Bayildi with Braised Lamb Strudel and Eggplant Caviar
Poached Pear with Mint-Marscarpone Tart, Candied Pecans, and Clove