Todd English, the celebrity chef who abandoned his bride-to-be at the alter a few weeks ago, later claimed he ditched her after she assaulted him and sent him to the hospital, and has since been seen "sucking face" with mystery women at random bars around town, says he is "not dating right now." Instead, he's "taking it slow" and hanging out with his friends. Go figure! [NYM]
The chef in this picture could be mixing some flour. But he could also be using the bowl to store his supply of coke. According to Jason Sheehan, a former chef and food writer, the odds that your next restaurant meal "will be prepared by someone on drugs" is "very high," since "cooks and coke go together like salt and pepper." It's not something they can help, mind you. Chefs are hard-wired to be coke fiends, Sheehan says, since "being a cook or a chef means being in the pleasure business," and is "the sort of person who has a yen for experimentation and excess." So if you're looking for ways to curry favor at your favorite restaurant, bringing a key of coke with you might not be such a bad idea. [TDB]
If you spot Tom Colicchio eating out and he appears to be displaying bad table manners by not having his napkin on his lap, keep in mind it may have been an intentional move on his part. Colicchio's biggest pet peeve at restaurants: "I do not want the server to pick up the napkin and put it on my lap. I know it belongs there; maybe I don't choose to put it there." Duly noted! Oh, and if you should happen to invite Tom over for dinner and he takes you up on your offer, avoid preparing any dishes with okra or grated mountain yam, and make sure your fridge is stocked with Fresca. He'll be forever grateful. [NYT]
Could stress and anxiety over the state of the economy explain why so many celebrity chefs are getting a bit belligerent as of late? Anthony Bourdain went out of his way to launch a verbal assault on Alice Waters recently. And the war between Mario Batali and Gordon Ramsay has been heating up in recent days, too. Apparently, Batali made some critical comments about the Hell's Kitchen star more than a year ago, a move that prompted Ramsay to start calling Batali "fanta pants" in honor of the orange shorts he's long been fond of.
Yesterday we learned that our national diet is shifting towards cheap, simple meals like tomato soup and Kool-Aid because of the national economic meltdown. But that doesn't mean your tomato-Kool-Aid soup must be boring and plain! Publishers are flooding the market with a new crop of food magazines, just in time for our collective shift from a nation of gourmet snobs to a nation of bony, coupon-clipping scavengers. 2008 saw the publication of 336 food magazines, up by a third from only five years ago. That's probably way more than necessary! Bad move? Here's a market summary: Interest is up. News stand sales and web traffic are both up. But! Ad pages are down. Several big food magazines have already seen double-digit drops in ad pages. And outside industries like travel and home furnishings that advertise in some food magazines are also hurting, and buying fewer ads. So what are publishers doing? Tying new magazines to celebrity chefs, or to the Food Network. Paula Deen! Sandra Lee! Rachael Ray! All big successes, or predicted to be! Other, more mundane cooking titles will surely fall by the wayside over the next year. The future of American food publishing: "Rachael Ray Tells You How To Use Lard To Re-Fry Your McDonalds Burgers To Raise Your Family's Caloric Intake Above Minimal Survival Levels." Mmmm! [WSJ]
I love that asshole Gordon Ramsay. He combines all the best qualities we seek in television chefs: cooking skills, abusive language, a foreign accent. As well as the occasional tender moment! Kitchen Nightmares, the show where Ramsay travels to nice, homely restaurants in the New York area and berates their owners to distraction before showering them with thousands of dollars worth of new kitchen equipment, is coming back to Fox tomorrow night. And not a moment too soon—with the Republican convention wrapping up, where else will America turn for our televised dose of a blond man with an ill-concealed temper demanding that foreigners accept his help or be destroyed? See the parallels there, zing? Yes. Watch the trailer after the jump; the cockroaches represent Islamofascism:
Most Americans are coarse oafs whose idea of fine dining is a grilled cheese sandwich with Grey Poupon on the side. So we all tend to like shouty British TV chef Gordon Ramsay, who screams cuss words at people on reality shows, which is behavior we all relate to. But other British chefs are not fans! Last week one Ramsay protege called him a "sad bastard" and said he hopes to never speak to him again. And today, famous chef Herbert Berger said celebrity cooks like Ramsay are "petulant," "spoilt divas," and act like "children." Berger, you donkey! You can't possibly hope to win this battle. Though I'm sure it's not fun to work for Gordon Ramsay, it is certainly fun to watch Gordon Ramsay exhibiting his forthright management skills when dealing with his inferiors in the kitchen, as he does in this helpfully uncensored clip from his show Kitchen Nightmares:
No matter how scandalous the situations that public figures find themselves in, it seems that there will always be some people willing to rise to their defense. Groups have sprung up to save the careers of both scandalized hooker patron/ Governor Eliot Spitzer, and disgraced former Food Network celebrity chef Robert Irvine, who was outed as a big fat liar and subsequently fired. Both those guys can use all the help they can get. Unfortunately for them, the types of people who form ad hoc online groups in support of fallen idols always seem to be non-influential nutcases (like Democrats!).
Robert Irvine, the nerdy, crewcut, heavily muscled celebrity chef who rose to fame with his show "Dinner: Impossible" on the Food Network, may be suffering from a serious case of pants-on-fire. Irvine had big plans to transform the fine dining scene in St. Petersburg, FL with two new fancy restaurants. He ran around town entering partnerships, hiring consultants, and generally proclaiming himself to be a food VIP. But the local paper noticed that, three months after the scheduled opening date, the new restaurants are still unfinished construction sites. So they did some investigating [SP Times], and it turns out that most of Irvine's big-shot credentials are just a huge pile of unseasoned poop!
The Daily News is running a contest to pick New York's Sexiest chef, because it is apparently a blog now. You also enter a contest to win dinner for two. This dinner does not include "wine, beer, liquor or gratuities" and is "subject to availability." Fun! Of the eleven chefs, quite a few lounge in the littoral zone of heteronormative behavior and at least six are either married or in relationships. Also, approximately none of them is actually cute. Except perhaps Sam Mason of Tailor. And he's not only taken but the chef with the most vexed sexual identity.
Rocco DiSpirito, former celebrity chef and now TV dinner spokesmodel, is the guest chef at the Conde Nast cafe today! Will he wear a hairnet? Will he make old-lady grunts while he ladles out the slop? Your first person accounts requested! Bonus points to anyone who nails him in a broom closet. Or to a broom, in a closet! No no, no violence. Just pity. [Eater]
Lost amidst all the brouhaha over illegal immigration, border fences, Minutemen, Lou Dobbs, etc., is the fact that there's a significant population of people who really need to get into this country, like, right now, and all those people sneaking in really aren't helping the cause! We're talking, of course, about foreign chefs who need to work at high-end New York restaurants so that Frank Bruni has something else to write about, who are apparently having trouble getting into the U.S. because the INS doesn't consider chefs to be workers with "extraordinary ability." Also, getting a specialty visa (one of 65,000 distributed annually) is pretty tough, because "these visas are often snatched up first by other foreign professionals, including fashion models." We're picturing a reality show, kind of like a Top Chef/Project Runway hybrid, with Padma Lakshmi hosting. The prize, of course, is a green card, and the chefs and the models are on different teams, and it would be kind of like the Apprentice, and they'd all be living in the same house, like the Real World, and then the chefs would hit on the models ... Hey, is this how reality shows get made?
Last week, the restaurant world was tittering about a post on New York magazine's food blog Grub Street about Porchetta chef Jason Neroni, who seemed to be soliciting votes for a Beard Foundation Rising Star Award, and while he was at it, noting that "Danny Meyer does it all the time." (Soliciting votes, that is.) Then Neroni emailed Grub Street defending himself.
So that self-promoting chef who sent an e-mail around asking his friends to make him a Beard Foundation rising star? No one has coughed up the e-mail yet, but we have it on good authority that it's none other than Jason Neroni, of Brooklyn pig purveyor Porchetta (home of the pork margarita). An earlier Grub Street item on the cook noted that he