Few chefs are more eloquent and cerebral than Daniel Patterson of San Francisco's Coi and Il Cane Rosso and Oakland's Plum. Few chefs also make more beautiful, thoughtful and delicious food. He is also not afraid to say it as he sees it. Here are his thoughts about the place of Art in cooking.
Coming soon: Albert Adria gets la ultima palabra.
Matthias Hagglund of Elements Restaurant in Princeton, NJ, happens to be one of the craftiest and most creative mixologists I have yet had the pleasure of meeting. His beverages are products of great thought and consideration. The net results comprise a synergy of ingredients and magical cocktails. Here, he expresses his thoughts on whether food can be art. The question unasked, but equally pertinent, how about cocktails?
The Bocuse D'Or is happening this week in Lyon, France. The preeminent cooking competition in the world, this biennial event is a bit crazy and a lot of fun. You can follow my reports and photos from the 2009 competition as well as the 2010 selection process for the United States representative here. To really get a sense of what the Bocuse D'Or is all about, though, I suggest reading Andrew Friedman's outstanding book, Knives at Dawn. It's a great read and it's not too late to do so before the fun begins on Tuesday.
The other half of the creative team behind the wildly creative Cooking Issues (though Nastassia Lopez should be included there as well to make it a creative trio) along with Dave Arnold, who's response I have already posted, Nils Noren is the former Executive chef of Aquavit in NYC and current Vice President of Culinary Arts of The French Culinary Institute in NYC. He has serious chops in both the craft aspects of cooking and the creative realm. Once again, I apologize for the suboptimal focus of the video, but I think Nils' views are worth putting up with it for a brief period.
I know few chefs who plate more beautifully than Scott Boswell of Stella!and Stanley in New Orleans. Of course, in the world of food that means nothing if the pleasure of eating a dish does not at least match the beauty of a gorgeously plated dish. Boswell has that down too. In this short video he gives his opinion on whether or not food can be considered art as well as naming a chef who he considers "one of the greatest food artists of all time."
i don't know too many chefs who cook more artistically or better than Shola Olunloyo of the soon to open Speck and Studio Kitchen in Philadelphia. In this short video shot at the latest Starchefs International Chefs Congress in NYC, the wonderfully opinionated Chef Shola Olunloyo shares his views on whether cooking is solely a craft or whether it can aspire to art.
The ever energetic Rick Moonen of RM Seafood in Las Vegas is a supremely talented chef, a bright personality and a truly great guy. Aside from being a whiz at the stove as evidenced by his second place finish on rthe 2010 Top Chef Masters, the outgoing and personable Chef Moonen is probably best known as an advocate for sustainable seafood. Here, at the lates Starchefs International Chefs Congress, he provides an opinion on the Art vs. Craft in cooking discussion. Fortunately for me, this interview did not suffer from any significant technical problems.
While my technical difficulties with video at this past Starchefs International Chefs Congress continued, Alex Talbot of Ideas in Food shares his ever fascinating thoughts on Art vs. Craft when it comes to cooking. The video is short, but I think sweet.
Last fall at the Starchefs International Chefs Congress in New York City, I asked a few people from the culinary world the question that reflected the theme of the Congress, Is cooking just a craft, or can it be art? Unfortunately, I ran into some technical difficulties with my video equipment, but I did manage to record a few responses that I can share. While the quality of the video image is a tad unfocused, the perspective of Dave Arnold, the wunderkind gastroscientist of the French Culinary Institute in New York City and one of the folks behind the incredible foodblog, Cooking Issues, is just too good to not share.
Daniel Patterson of San Francisco's Coi is the chef in North America, who most reminds me of Rene Redzepi of Copenhagen's noma. It is not that Patterson is recreating Redzepi's food or vice versa. Although he sources the bulk of his ingredients locally from the cornucopia of the San Francisco Bay Area, much like Redzepi does from Scandinavia, it is not that that makes me equate the two. Sean Brock of Charleston's Husk and McCrady's, is probably closer to Redzepi in that way with his determination to find and resurrect the ancestral ingredients of the Old American South to build a new cuisine truly representative of the region, much like what Redzepi has done in Scandinavia. Nor is it the way Patterson highlights a single vegetable like Redzepi does with carrots and other vegetables. Blue Hill at Stone Barns' Dan Barber and his roasted parsnips, amongst other dishes, are more reminiscent of that. Both Patterson and Redzepi have become known for using local, wild foraged plants with a special emphasis on coastal products including seaweeds and beach plants, but it is more the sensibility with which they are used that unites the two chefs in my mind, how they make emphatic, personal culinary statements about their own terroir and about how each of them creates a very personal poetry with food.
With the beginning of the new year I want to say that my website and blog will be changing soon in the hope of bringing it up to a higher level. I am working with Danya Henninger of imagicdigital.com to redesign the site. I plan to continue providing the content that I have and hope to add some new authors as well - both to help me develop more content and to provide additional content from additional perspectives.
To clean things up a bit I have already started removing some extraneous clutter such as Google or AdSense ads as well as Amazon ads other than for photo equipment that I use. I have found that they have done nothing for me but cheapen the site. To replace those, I will be instituting something much more interesting and useful. I will be adding various pages to the website including some for shops selling artisanal products. My aim is to link quality artisans, whether they be food artisans, artists or craftspeople, with a wider audience. Any artisans on my site will be personally known by me or a trusted source and/or have products familiar to me. I will not present anything on my site for sale that I cannot fully endorse. Sales and contacts will be made through the pages, but the artisans will remain responsible for completing the sales and supplying the products. If you think you might qualify and are interested in participating in this program, please contact me through this site. I am very interested in working with quality artisans and quality products on a reasonable commission basis.I will also be adding a way for individuals or companies to purchase photos that they may be interested in for personal or corporate use.
I also intend to have pages for potential blog sponsors. I will not accept ads from all comers, but only from companies and products that I respect and can fully endorse. Ad prices will be reasonable. Though I respect them greatly, I will not accept ads from restaurants, as much of my content comes from reporting on restaurant meals and I do not wish to have any suggestion of a quid pro quo. I will, however, accept sponsorship from food producers or equipment manufacturers if they are so inclined, but only if I feel that I can fully endorse their products. I will not accept a sponsor who's products don't meet my standards for quality. Please contact me directly through this site if you may be interested in becoming a sponsor.
In short, I hope to enhance the experience and value of my website for you, my readers and to keep this a sustainable undertaking. Happy New Year!
I first noticed these wonderful little Australian citrus fruits in L.A. in early December. They appeared in dishes at a Wolvesmouth dinner, in cocktails at The Library Bar at The Roosevelt Hollywood Hotel and again at Providence, all to great effect, working like a burst of lime caviar to accent the dishes with both flavor and texture. Since then, I've noticed them n a number of menus and had them at Roberta's in Brooklyn. I bought some at the Santa Monica Farmers Market. The limes in the photo are some of the last remaining from my purchase. They held up well as I used them yesterday in a dish of piquillo peppers stuffed with turkey, chevre, saffron, peas and citrus and covered with Hollandaise. I would not be in the least surprised to see finger limes become the hot ingredient of 2011 much like hay and pine were in 2010.
This is, of course, a subjective ranking. While great food is the single most important factor, the ranking is a reflection of the overall experience and the significance of that meal to me on a number of levels. The bottom line is that this was an exceptional year of dining for me with a number of meals that would have been top ten in many other years unable to be ranked so high this year. For my number one meal - noma - I am counting both the dinner and the lunch as one extended meal. I decided to not include special, guest chef or one-off dinners on this list, since they are special one-time events, not truly reflective of a specific restaurant or chef doing what he or she typically does. That is not to say, that they wouldn't have been on this list. Special mention goes to these special dinners: noma at Corton; The Alchemy of Taste & Smell Dinner; Aldea with Sam Mason, and Aldea with Pastry Chefs, each of which was simply sensational.
The lack of reports on some of these restaurants is an indication of how backed up I am. I will post them as I can.
In anticipation of a list of my top restaurant meals of 2010 that I plan on posting at the end of the year, I thought it would be fun and instructive to review my lists from the past few years including those that I posted on the eGullet Discussion Forums. My formats (and numbers) have varied over the years. Here they are as they were originally posted (in backwards chronological order)
In the animated film Ratatouille, the feared food critic Anton Ego, was won over by a dish that transported him back to his childhood and to a dish made special to him by his mother. This is that dish for me. Bucatini with crab sauce was my favorite dish when I was growing up. My mother would make it for me on my special days, such as my birthdays or when I came home from college. The blue crabs impart a slightly sweet and complex flavor to the long simmered tomato sauce. I still love it more than any other dish. The very first time I ate at elBulli, I had a dish made with crab that reminded me of it. The crab dish made an already incredible meal that much more so, even though it resembled this dish in no other way. Do you have a dish that transports you?