I hope you all caught No Reservations last night on the Travel Channel. Tony Bourdain aired his Heartland episode and I think it's one of the best hours of food TV I have seen in a long time. The content was good; I could have used less Bacchus-Bartolotta and more Austin food cart guys with the mutant mash up food out behind the Liberty Bar, but the art direction and writing on this show is SPECATACULAR. No wonder TB got an Emmy nod for the best writing in a non-fiction series . . . he should win. I was gad to see Jaime Oliver and Top Chef in there as well.
So a couple of months back Tony calls me and asks who is fighting the good fight against all odds here in Minnesota. He wanted to know about a chef with mad skills, highly principled, with a real balls-on sense of food style. I immediately told him about Doug Flicker and Piccolo. TB asked me to keel mum on all this until after the episode aired, but after shooting with Flicker for a day he pulled me aside and told me flat out it was the most impressive display of culinary pyrotechnics he had seen all year, and it was also the best meal he had on the road in the USA all year. He said so again on-air last night.
And I agree. I ate most recently there a few weeks ago with my dad when he came to visit. He, my wife, and I ordered one of everything on the menu and were blown away with every dish. If you are reading this and have eaten at Piccolo and think the portions too small I think you missed the forest for the trees. If you haven’t eaten there, you need to call and book a table immediately. And watch the Heartland episode; maybe it will help you understand the privilege we all enjoy: to have so many amazingly talented chefs in this town. And if Doug Flicker gets to be our emissary going out into the next few years of our food news cycle then I am ecstatic. I think this TV appearance will help give him the platform he deserves. But what is most important is that you go taste his food.
So I was overseas and saw that Raghavan Iyer left OM. Am I crazy or didn’t it seem that when the place opened he was touted as the owner? This is a disturbing trend in restaurants, where chefs have become front men/ owners when it's convenient to say the restaurant is chef-owned, especially when trying to get pre-opening publicity.
Farmer Lee Jones’s Veggie U’s Eighth Annual Food and Wine Celebration at The Culinary Vegetable Institute is being held next Saturday, July 17, in Milan, OH. All the info is available on the website. It’s truly one of the premier culinary events in the country and all proceeds go to help Veggie U send its curriculum to more 4th grade classrooms around the country. You should be there.
MICHELIN formally revealed this morning that it will expand its internationally recognized restaurant guide series to include Chicago, the first-ever guide for a Midwestern city. MICHELIN guide Chicago 2011 will be published in November 2010. From Mado to Avenues, and Graham Elliot to Xoco; from Lola to Takashi, and Publican to Big Star; from MK to Paradise Pup, and Spiaggia to Blackbird to Veerasway to . . . oh my god I could go on and on! Good choice Michelin Man. More on Chicago eats in a week or so.
Speaking of Chicago, I was there last weekend and had a hot dog with my pal Rick Moonen and ABC’s Steve Dolinsky, a Minneapolis native with more Beard Awards than Beard. Moonen told me the first run of Monnen Dogs, shrimp with Asian flavors, will be making their debut at US Open Tennis event next month in NYC.
Here’s the first look of the first run. Literally.
The new Heartland will open on July 22 according to Lenny Russo. He says they are planning to open for dinner only Tuesday through Sunday beginning at 5:00 p.m.