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Jason Gould going down under

When Philippe Schmidt went to France for a visit last year, the Chronicle recruited him to be a guest contributor to describe his experiences in the Chef’s Corner blog. Philippe’s daily exploits made for a great read, even though he is disturbingly cheerful and joyous about the daily wonders of life. 

imageNow the Chronicle is doing it again, this time with Jason Gould of Gravitas, who’s going to his hometown of Melbourne, Australia.

I had a blast visiting Sydney earlier this year, but my one regret was not making it to Melbourne. The difference between the two cities is described as that of LA vs NY, Melbourne being the bustling metropolis with much better food.

I thought Sydney was far more appealing than the craphole that is LA, but missing out on all the great food in Melbourne has been gnawing at me ever since. Now I can at least read about it as Jason eats his way through his hometown.

June 9, 2008   No Comments

James Beard Awards mark another year of irrelevance


The 2008 winners of the James Beard Awards Foundation have been announced. The only one I saw coming was Grant Achatz for Outstanding Chef. 

JBA are a little like the Golden Globes – not quite authoritative enough to get all worked up about. But, still. The sheer number of chefs at the top of their game that failed to win in numerous categories is a little surprising.

I think David Kinch is the best chef in the country today. Yet the award went to the guy from Delfina, a glorified neighborhood Italian joint. Really?

The Southern half of the US is equally perplexing. Sharon Hage and Andrew Weissman delivered some of the best meals I had in 2007. Neither won. Not a single chef from New Orleans even got nominated…

Graham Elliot Bowles and Michael Symon both got dissed, while Sean Brock got beat by some guy at Cafe Boulud.  I haven’t been to any of these restaurants, but can you really be an outstanding chef if all you do is execute someone else’s food all night?

Maybe DIY is the future. Chefs get together, get crunk and stroke each others egos. Everyone gets a trophy. Just like in T-ball. We’ll see what happens with Randy’s effort, I suppose.


P.S. – I am sitting on a pile of dusty photos and uncompleted posts about Manresa, Le Reve, Alinea, Nana, York Street and Restaurant August. I’ll try to write them up before I head out to Europe in August. Let me know which of those sound most interesting and I’ll work on those first.


P.P.S. I recently had the pleasure of visiting Tres Agaves, a San Francisco based Mexican restaurant nominated in the JBA Outstanding Graphics category. This has to be one of the more bizarre (gratuitous much?) awards in any category, especially given the blandish design I saw at Tres Agaves.

Now, how about the food? Well… Hit and miss, run of the mill Mexican fare made California fresh. Chiles rellenos were completely naked and roasted, rather than fried. Carnitas looked like a huge chunk of braised meat that was then flash fried and blow torched.

If you are really curious about San Francisco inflected Mexican cuisine look no further than Ninfa’s on Navigation, where Alex Padilla is tweaking the classics with refined west coast "technique".  Bleh.

June 9, 2008   6 Comments