Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The end of the culinary world as you know it.

The world is ending.  Restaurants are closing, chefs are without jobs, and Gourmet will soon be no more.  The food world at large is being dominated by a handful of cooking based reality shows and a million terrible recipe and food blogs.  Trends are turning over so quickly that even your Mom has a calcium chloride/sodium alginate set up, right next to her bread maker and pizza stone.  Things have regressed so far that opening a restaurant seems like suicide.  Let's just open a quesadilla food cart instead! 

Well, I say bullshit to all this doom and gloom.  You realize what's about to happen, right?  You can see what's around to corner, can't you?

Here, in San Francisco, there is a group of chefs that are rightly considered to be at the top of their gameThey're all in the same age group, they all came up paying their dues, and they're all brilliant at their craft.  They're who you want to work for in this town.  When you see them get together, it's like a meeting of the illuminati.  They are the chefs that will be cited as the dominant influences for the next generation.  And that next generation is about to come into its own.  Right now we are standing on the edge of a whole new era of chefs.  Young cooks, that came up through less traditional avenues than our predecessors.  Cooks that are embracing traditional and boundry pushing techniques--often on the same plate.  It's happening already.  Chefs like Charlie Kleinman, Ryan Farr, Brandon Jew, Thomas McNaughton, Chad Newton, Ian Begg, Justin Simoneaux, James Syhabout, Ron Pei and Luis Villavilazquez are all young, driven, and quickly making a name for themselves citywide.  And beyond the traditional kitchen format there are chefs like Anthony Myint and Josh Skenes that aren't just cooking good food, but are challenging the idea of what a restaurant is in the first place.  Add in a crop of hungry and talented sous chefs (Brett Cooper of Coi, Alejandro Rodriguez of Nopa) and I just cant see how an eater wouldn't be foaming at the mouth for what's coming.

Think about it like this:  No era of chefs has ever had access to the quality and variety of farm fresh ingredients that this group does.  No era of chefs is as closely tied to organics and sustainability.  No era of chefs has had their worlds brought closer by means of the internet and social networking like this group does.  And no era of chefs has had such a rabid audience for the next big thing, and the next big chef.  And come to think of it, few eras of chefs care as little about celebrity as this group does.  It's an interesting dynamic; cooks that have seen the cost of selling out, television, and cooking for awards and not for guests.  These next chefs run their kitchens with humility and dignity, and they don't forget the whole point--that cooking is just food, and its supposed to be fun.

I think the most exciting thing is to look forward.  5 years, 10 years, 15 years...where is this new class of chefs going to lead the San Francisco culinary scene?  What will be their impact on the next group of cooks coming up under them?  Who is going to end up running a 4 star kitchen...and who is going to open a quiet neighborhood spot?  The culinary world is not ending.  The future is bright, and we all get to be a part of it.


quotes and conversations.

"I love you Mer-mer.  I'm going to make you the happiest woman in the world."

Me:  We're on orange alert?
Nick:  Yeah.
Me:  Yeah dude!  That's my favorite alert!  It's one alert away from code red.
Dega:  Which one is Amber alert.
Me:  Amber alert is a kidnapped child.

A tall, cute girl walks by.
Camaal:  Why not.
Paulie:  Because she's twice your size?
Camaal:  So?  Danny is twice my size.
Paulie:  ?....

Goose:  Never suck dick for crack.
Me:  That's good advice.
Ponder.  I have par cooked risotto stuck in my teeth.
Me:  I don't even think we're listening to each other anymore.

EddieWhy did you tell an entire week in October to fuck off?
(3 hours pass)
Goose:  Hey dude, I just wanted you to know that when you told this week to fuck off, you put it for next month. 
Me:  Yeah, that's part of this week sucking.

Me:  I don't think you can base an entire film on an unlikeable character.
Amy:  But it's been done.
Me:  Yeah, in the Phantom Menace with that little kid.
Corey:  I got your phantom menace right here.

Amy:  When you told Brooke about millennial values, did you use your nerd voice?
Me:  No, I used my CNN voice, pented my fingers, and used air quotes.
Amy:  Nice.

Rachel:  You should get Corey to run with you.
Me:  I don't think that's gonna happen.  Corey's gotta stop eating melted brie on triscuits first. 
Corey:  It's baguette ends.  Triscuits are for sliced cheddar.

Merrell is plating, and she's short on a set.
Eddie:  Did I fuck you?
Merrell:  Don't say that Eddie.  It's weird.

Me:  Fire two families.
Goose:  Hey dude, there better not be more than six families left cuz I ain't got more than that.  So if they're tryin' to get me, they're gonna be out of luck cuz I only prepped for..
Goose:  Yes.

Me:  What about you Goose?  Would you pay to see nude pictures of me on the internet?
Goose:  Well, I guess if you were tryin to raise money or something.

Eddie:  Guess what I made yesterday?  Fish and chips.  Only I didn't have potatoes, so I made onion rings instead.
Me:  Wow, that's extra un-healthy.
Eddie:  And that was for breakfast!

Eddie:  I'm going to Sonoma at the end of the month.  The Rancho Gordo outlet store is there, and they have t-shirts.  I'm gonnna get one.
Me:  That's very geeky of you.
Eddie:  I like beans.  They're delicious, and economical...
Me:  You're still talking about beans.

Corey:  Mer-mer, your balls taste good in my mouth.
Merrell:  Thanks Corey.
Me:  Weird, Matty told her the same thing last night.

Me:  OK Gerardo.  If you could bone down with a really hot girl, but she had a robot vagina, would you do it?
Gerardo:  I don't know what that would feel like.
Ponder:  Trick question!  That would be the end of the world.  That's cylon vagina.
Me:  OK.  Same question, but this time it's shark vagina.
Eddie:  Trick question!  Sharks don't have vaginas!

from top: dega's text, cipollini eyes, burnt bacon, corey and goose, superglue, baby snails, you touch your dick, a brand new vitaprep

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