Well, I never thought I would live to see the day when Sean Penn, Javier Bardem, Benicio del Toro, Jonah Hill, Jack Black, Seth Rogen, and I would all write the same film-centric blog post, but here it is . . . . More intriguing to me was something I read in a Kate Rogers blurb in the current issue of our magazine writing about The Green Room. She wrote:
“Every so often, a lively debate flares over restaurant relativism. Bloggers and commenters—god love ‘em—tend to stoke the fires. You know, delis in Minnesota can never compare to delis in New York. Wolfgang in Minneapolis is nowhere near as good as Wolfgang in LA or even Wolfgang in Vegas, on and on and on. But what happens when the restaurant in question is in Waconia? Does the scale slide from city to country standards just like that? Yes. Though the bravado-filled NYC and Chicago v. Minneapolis disputes are often redundant and wearying, they do offer a yardstick to measure the scene we care about most: our own.”
I like Kate’s writing, and she is a young, talented, and smart woman who knows her stuff . . . and I love this kind of conversation. And when I read her piece, I wanted to call her right away and hash out the nitty gritty of the issue she raises. The way I see it, and I am one of the food pundits she refers to as a fire-stoker, there is only one version of excellence, and it isn’t relative at all. The scale shouldn’t slide for anyone.
The JGV concept at The Chambers Hotel needs to held to the same level of evaluation as the Waconia joint, good is good. Period. And the Puck concept at the Walker needs to be evaluated in relation to other local restaurants but also to its organization's standards as a whole, like any other restaurant company. Sliding scales, grading on a curve, and the like is what we do best around here in Minnesota, and it dumbs down the level of quality. We even do it with our sports teams, much to the chagrin of my pal Dan Barreiro, who is more irritated with the “well, we’re good enough” measuring stick we hold our Twins, Wild, Wolves, and Vikes to than I am regarding the local dining scene. Great food in Minneapolis is the same as great food in Kansas City or Guangzhou, China, and given someone less or more credit because of where they operate their business is pointless. Just one dude's POV.
The San Pellegrino World's 50 Best Restaurant Award rankings will be announced at 8 p.m. (UK time) on Monday, April 20th. The results will be "tweeted" this year, along with other news from the night's proceedings. See twitter.com/spoonhq. Hopefully I will be on hand; I missed it last year. The party in years past has been an all-time food fest of the highest order. Nearly all the chefs on the list have confirmed that they will be attending, so London will be brimming with tasty tales and gratifying gossip. Attendees include the four-time crowned chef-owner of the best restaurant in the world, Ferran Adria of El Bulli, and come-back king Joel Robuchon. Check out the list here.
Closer to home, the Beard Award finalists were announced last week while I was away shooting. Congrats to all the local nominees. See award nominees here. Locally, we got another three chefs in the mix in our regional award category. Isaac, Tim, and Alex all got a nod and are all deserving in the extreme. I think any one of them is deserving of the award for umpteen reasons. Isaac shouldn’t be penalized for only owning one restaurant, especially given the cultural importance and continued level of excellence he demonstrates at 112. Alex is expanding his Brasa concept, and the food at Alma has never been better . . . his level of attention to his rotisserie shop and his commitment to quality certainly could earn him the nod. Tim should have won this award for years now . . . and still should. Who knows how the judges see this? Should be an interesting year. The awards are May 4th at Avery Fisher Hall. You should be there. And for the 4th year running, I will be away shooting that week . . . I want to kill myself.