HISTORY BITES...NOTE PAD (Eighth Edition)
In local neighborhoods customer approval along with the accompanying word of mouth recommendations remain the tried and true indicators that establish the reputation of a restaurant or a dining room. This reputation is earned or not. Success is beckoning or closure is at hand.
In metropolitan centers the same remains true, however, other extraneous factors come into play. Food is without question an obsessive preoccupation for the media, certainly television, but more so the print media.
Can these publications ever create a feeding frenzy over ratings and rankings? We have a bottled water company from Lombardy - S. Pellegrino declaring a manifest of the Worlds 50 Best Restaurants. There is the Zagat Survey that spawned the Zagat Buzz; this publication was on the block last year for $200 million. Is your hotel a Relais & Chateaux or has it garnered the Relais Gourmands Trophy?
The AAA Diamonds with their ascending categories bestow instant credibility and recognition. What can we say about the esteemed Michelin Guide, which for decades has served up many crowns and thereby anointed kings of the kitchen or by denial has lowered crowns of thorns upon once proud heads?
Also we must pay attention to the new kids on the block in the electronic media such as Serious Eats.com or Eater.com. The raves of these popular food blogs have massive readership and build online consensus.
There are dozens of competing magazines, newspapers and food newsletters. Standing tall among this scrimmage of reviewers are a few whose reputations are near-mythic as restaurant critics.
There is Michael Winner of The Times, London of course. Of equal stature is Frank Bruni of The Times, New York of course. We hear that Frank will be publishing a memoir this fall. The publicity required for a book promotion wouldn’t sit well with his attempts to fly beneath the radar as a restaurant critic, thereby elevating Sam Sifton to the be the new man slicing and dicing at the critics’ table of The New York Times.
Chefs, their Kitchens and their dining rooms are forever under scrutiny much like exotic fish in a bowl. This is as it should be. But what to make of a book soon to be published where chefs join as curators to anoint emerging culinary stars.
Coco is claiming to be the first book of its kind. Ten of the best chefs of today will reveal who the 100 best chefs of tomorrow will be.
“Part cookbook, part guide to the world’s best new restaurants, and part who’s who of the international food scene Coco showcases the cooking of today’s best new chefs, as chosen by today’s culinary icons.”
Certainly the curator body is impressive: Ferran Ardía of Spain; Mario Batali of America; Shannon Bennett of Australia; Alain Ducasse of France; Fergus Henderson of England; Yoshihiro Murata of Japan; Gordon Ramsay of England; Rene Redzepi of Denmark; Alice Walters of America; Jacky Yu of Hong Kong.
Let us look forward to an interesting present in our Christmas stocking this year
(COCO, Phaidon Press, Fall 2009)