I am giving away a trip to Mexico! This all expenses paid (including air, hotel, and lodging) little getaway will take you to the Riviera Maya. Thanks to FunJet and Travel Leaders I am hosting a digital treasure hunt at paradisepursuit.com and on Twitter at @paradisepursuit. Check it out. All you have to do is follow the clues, solve a puzzle, and then go off and find the tickets. Register and start on your way today and by Sept. 25 one of you will be the winner of a killer vacation. Tell your friends; this is going to be a blast.
Last week’s news that Vanity Fair named Marcus Samuelsson (deserving) and Spike Mendelsohn as its two culinary stars to keep tabs on seemed shockingly uninformed to me. Each year, Vanity Fair makes a list of 100 influential people from all walks of life and calls them the "New Establishment." The list is all very mini-mogul dominated with the occasional maxi-mogul thrown in to keep the gravitas factor nice and high.
This year they also made a list called the "Next Establishment" filled with names to keep an eye on. They picked two chefs to highlight: Spike and Marcus.
Are you kidding me? Of all the chefs in the country, the VF editors think that Spike is in the same league with Marcus? Not even close. What about the 500 way more deserving, way more entrepreneurial, way more mission driven chefs with social consciousness oozing from their pores? From Dan Barber to Lee Hefter, from Michael White to Paul Kahan . . . I could go on and on. Lenny, Lucia, Alex, Brenda, Tim . . . they are all local chefs way more deserving of something like this. I am *@#$%-ing stunned.
Spike apparently made the list because of his potential to dominate "the Hill's dining scene," and also because he aspires to create yet another derivative pizza/burger restaurant empire. Hellooooo out there . . . that takes moxie and savvy and know how that Spike hasn’t shown us yet. He may do that, just like someday I may be the principle ballerina with the NYC Ballet Company.
Has anyone wondered about Shake Shack coming to DC? Or any of a dozen killer pizza mavens that could take over that town in a heartbeat? It is nuts. I ate at Good Stuff Eatery and We the Pizza and both were pretty decent . . . nothing that made me want to go back and I am in DC all the time because Travel Channel is based there. I wasn’t blown away with either one. And rolling them out in other cities, which is Spike’s plan, seems really ballsy. Good luck on that.
I hope he is successful because we need more great eateries and more jobs and more good stuff in our world. My gripe is not with Spike, who has simply gone where his heart and stove and dorky little hat have taken him; my gripe is with the VF editors who think that this guy, above all the others in the country, is THE guy to watch out for. I am just perplexed beyond words. I will say this: Whoever his PR agent is deserves a huge raise.
Marcus, on the other hand, owns a stake in Aquavit, he is about to open Red Rooster in NYC, he has a few burger kiosks in some department stores, and he has a small eatery in Sweden . . . oh yeah, and he has a James Beard Award, several nominations, a White House Dinner, and a Top Chef Masters win under his belt, as well as a few best selling cookbooks and about 200 other reasons he should be on that list.