Per Se gets 2 stars from NY times

Discussion in 'The Off Topic Room' started by ecchef, Jan 13, 2016.

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  1. Jan 13, 2016 #1
  2. Jan 13, 2016 #2

    spoiledbroth

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  3. Jan 13, 2016 #3

    Miho

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    I'm curious how involved is Thomas Keller in the day to day operations of the kitchen.

    What I'm trying to get at is I've never really understood the whole concept of hands off boss/chef. Even if the chef doesn't ever cut/cook anything, they should check/taste everything.

    I'm making a huge assumption but he's probably more owner/restaurateur than a chef at this point in his career and he leaves a trusted chef de cuisine in charge.

    Idk I just feel conflicted bc if I'm dining at french laundry or per se and spending 500-1k$, I would like Keller to at least work the pass and quality control everything.

    Blah I hate making posts like these bc the man's a ******* legend and he's accomplished more in cooking than I ever will
     
  4. Jan 13, 2016 #4

    spoiledbroth

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    To be fair he has so many restaurants. I think when you attain a certain level of success, unless you are going to put all your energy into one single restaurant (who does? adria? except elbulli wasn't a financial success by any means) it seems very difficult to get people to "tow the line for you", you can't possibly be at the pass in four places around the country at once. and again his status as a chef demands that he do other things too, lectures and whatnot. Finding time to go abroad and be inspired by other chefs. It can't be easy.
     
  5. Jan 13, 2016 #5

    Miho

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    I totally understand he cant be everywhere at once.

    Its just that part of the reason that he can charge so much is because people get to eat "his" food. People get excited when they finally get their long awaited reservation and get to taste Chef Keller's food.
    But the reality is that he probably calls his Chef de Cuisine in the morning and he ll be like "butternut squash is in season, I want you to incorporate a squash puree. Roast them off, blend it. Run it through the finest strainer, whisk in butter etc etc etc. Yeah its his food but I have a feeling a fair share of non-industry people are going to be disappointed/mad when they realize "hey... Chef Keller isn't even in the kitchen... but I spent $1000 to eat his food..."
     
  6. Jan 13, 2016 #6
    This is probably quite true. I remember eating at Benoit Tokyo several years ago and it was a joke. We were one of two tables. Pretty damn sure Ducasse wasn't banging pots around that night.
     
  7. Jan 13, 2016 #7

    Chuckles

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    He has a camera in every kitchen and can watch them at all times. He has speakers rigged so he can talk to them whenever he wishes. In fact every one of his kitchens can watch every other kitchen at all times.
     
  8. Jan 13, 2016 #8

    chefcomesback

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    From the couple guys I know that have been in kitchens , he is pretty hands on , working the pass .
     
  9. Jan 13, 2016 #9
    Do they get sent to Room 101 if they screw up? :(
     
  10. Jan 13, 2016 #10

    spoiledbroth

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    even so, he can't be everywhere at once.

    bong water matsutake broth? man seriously this food reviewer! that is pretty merciless and I would question how much experience in general he has with that particular mushroom. maybe he spends most of his off time in Japan but I doubt it.
     
  11. Jan 13, 2016 #11

    Smurfmacaw

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    Food critics are vicious. I remember Gavin Kaysen used to work at El Bizcocho here in San Diego...on the Next Iron Chef (yeah yeah) they described his soup as dirty mushroom water.....while he was at El Biz he made some of the best food I ever put in my mouth.

    Has anyone here eaten at Per Se? I'd like to hear a more objective review.
     
  12. Jan 13, 2016 #12
    Not recently enough to comment.
     
  13. Jan 14, 2016 #13

    gic

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  14. Jan 14, 2016 #14

    XooMG

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    I'm hoping one of these illustrious reviewers can help do a review of the restaurant "Burger King". It seems they are pretty diverse (don't offer just burgers) and have an impressive international presence. I suspect the king himself does not oversee all operations as such a title connotes a life full of ceremonial obligation, but one hopes his methods are somewhat consistent from restaurant to restaurant. I suspect their relatively low prices make them less appealing to discerning critics, but one can dream.

    My husband and daughter have been asking me about it for months, but I've been reluctant to make reservations.
     
  15. Jan 14, 2016 #15
    Might I suggest an alternative? I haven't eaten there, but I have read some positive reviews of a derivative French eatery - Jacques in ze Box.
     
  16. Jan 14, 2016 #16

    Zwiefel

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    They have a surprisingly decent Central American-inspired sub-menu.
     
  17. Jan 14, 2016 #17

    Bill13

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    Glad I don't work at Per Se, TK is going to be upset,to put it mildly, even if it's
    his fault.
     
  18. Jan 14, 2016 #18

    cheflivengood

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    This "writer" has no f-ing idea the sacrifices every person in that kitchen has to make on a daily basis, this is definitely one of those situations where writers should not denounce what they can't do. I wouldnt be surprised if Achatz, Lee, and others don't drop what they're doing and go cook a few services to help get them back on track....cooks are not easily found who can do that kind of work, especially when you can't afford to live even an hour away from work.
     
  19. Jan 14, 2016 #19

    JDA_NC

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    With Alinea being ripped apart and them currently doing a pop up in Madrid... Not to mention Roister opening soon and Next being Next, I think it's safe to say that Grant Achatz could really care less about helping Per Se get back on track. It doesn't sound like cooking a few services (ie, executing the food well) would really change the serious issues that people are talking about either.
     
  20. Jan 14, 2016 #20

    cheflivengood

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    Ok dude...What I really meant was a lot of people will step up in his defense as they should, he is an incredible mentor, but maybe I should follow alinea on twitter a little more carefully to know chef grants schedule...
     
  21. Jan 14, 2016 #21

    chiffonodd

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    Really stunning pommes frites bouclées as well
     
  22. Jan 14, 2016 #22

    TheDispossessed

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    Not so sure someone who operates one of the most expensive restaurants in the country deserves any defense. If you're gonna charge people $300 for dinner you better well accept most of the population will find you an arse-hole.
    That said, if you make $120 per day as a line cook to work 16 hours for these nut jobs, I understand this could be discouraging.
     
  23. Jan 14, 2016 #23

    JDA_NC

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    Just talking Chef.

    The thing is it isn't a personal attack on TK.

    But it does read as a personal and vicious take down of one of his restaurants... which is surprising and shocking. I get why people are talking about it. The review made its round at work on Tuesday and that's in Chicago... not NYC.

    I don't think any TK protegee or alum wants to touch this with a 10 foot pole. It touches on a lot of sensitive issues for high end fine dining. Value - supplements - originality - stagnation - perfection - a restaurant's lifespan etc.

    Folks have been critical of Per Se and other TK restaurants (including the Laundry) for some time. If I had a blow out budget to go eating in NYC - Per Se wouldn't be anywhere close to my list. I don't feel that I'm alone on that. There are just so many other options there.

    That doesn't mean I don't respect or understand the effort and skill that goes into doing what they do.

    But to that people should defend Per Se from this review because it's a Thomas Keller restaurant? And he's the man, the myth, the legend, and the great mentor? Can't say I agree with that.
     
  24. Jan 14, 2016 #24

    JDA_NC

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    I'm also from the middle of NC and have never made more than $30k in my life. The Michelin Guide and these sort of $$$$$ restaurants don't exist where I'm from. Or most of the markets I've worked in. And I never went to culinary school where I feel in many ways they tend to teach students to idolize this sort of cooking and these chefs, especially TK. Not to say the respect for him and what he's done isn't there. But some of the zeal from these young, bright eyed (once) culinary students towards him and his restaurants borders on idolatry.

    So I might not be the target audience for eating at, liking, or defending, these sort of restaurants.
     
  25. Jan 15, 2016 #25

    cheflivengood

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    I went to a top culinary school and most of the chefs cant comprehend food on that level (why I dropped out), there is a reason they teach and don't run there own restaurant empires.

    I guess I am sensitive to this topic because I only worked in michelin rated kitchens from day one, and I know a lot of business owners and chefs who are struggling to find staff, who now instead of running the line they have to start working it again. The talent pool is drying up, and since per se is getting old there are newer and hipper places to learn, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that its not the shining jewel it once was. Bottom line is not one person can say that working in a three star restaurant (or for a chef of that mind set) is not the hardest job in the industry, and even if the food was off, no one deserves that type of evisceration for hard work (especially by a glorified yelper)
     
  26. Jan 16, 2016 #26

    brainsausage

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  27. Jan 16, 2016 #27

    Dardeau

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    When your stated goal is perfection you have to expect this sort of criticism. I am not defending Pete Wells. I personally think he writes like a peckerhead and with a greater emphasis on sensationalism (re: Feiri and Señor Frog's reviews; does this belong in NYT Dining and Wine) than on accurately depicting New Yorks dining options.

    I would say the most important thing to take from this is that rust never sleeps. There are probably porters at Per Se that are younger than some of the FL dishes on the menu there. Yes they are TK signatures. They are also tired. I am not a huge fan of the type of food he serves, but I think Wylie Dufresne did a good thing by ending the tenure of WD-50 on a high note, and going on to do other things.

    You can fix service issues with hard work, and food quality control is simple if not easy. Finding a fresh way to approach the food you serve can be harder.
     
  28. Jan 16, 2016 #28

    Schwartzbwithu

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    I don't know if I'd call this guy a glorified yelper, he does have some decent background:

    "Pete Wells was named restaurant critic for The New York Times in November 2011. Mr. Wells joined the Times as dining editor in October 2006. From 2009 until January 2011, he wrote a column for The New York Times Magazine called “Cooking with Dexter,” about the kitchen life of a working father.

    Prior to joining The Times, he was articles editor at Details for five years. He also wrote a column, “Always Hungry,” for Food & Wine, where he worked as an editor from 1999 until 2001.

    Mr. Wells has received five James Beard Foundation Journalism Awards for his writing about eating and drinking. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife, the novelist Susan Choi, and their two children."

    James Beard awards are pretty cool, at least they used to be. Now a days they seem to be more of an internal popularity contest. That aside, I do think the article was a little on the aggressive side. Perhaps Mr Wells felt he had to present his report through some extra harshness though. I'm sure he's aware of whom he was reviewing - one of the great icons of this industry.

    On another note, I'm not sure how I take the 'there's so much more talent out there now' attitude I'm seeing here. (Maybe I'm misreading this?) I feel pretty confident in saying that most of these chefs of either big or small places have all, at the very least, looked at a French Laundry book and thought "that's it!". TK's take on presentation, ceremony, and fine dining through his tongue and cheek whimsical humor has been more than just infectious. It's taught a lot of us how to "plate", create and have fun, as well as take this field much more seriously.
    I think it would be hard to argue that Thomas Keller and the French Laundry are just as much the reason for our exploded industry as Food tv and all of its 'stardom' promise.

    And on a third note, I can't help but feel somewhat badly for Chef Eli. I can't imagine what that guy is feeling right now. I'm sure there's some guilt floating around that emotional turmoil, a sense of responsibility (or blame) for loosing a couple of stars.

    I for one would be sad if Per Se simply faded away. Not that I think this is an inevitable result. I just can't imagine a culinary world without food temples such as these.
     
  29. Jan 16, 2016 #29

    Schwartzbwithu

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    Two very solid points
     
  30. Jan 16, 2016 #30

    cheflivengood

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    This should have been the tone of the review, him [wells] being so accomplished should know the struggles that fine dining is facing and should have done some investigative journalism as to why they are struggling, not hack a few more holes in a sinking ship. I agree with what you said about WD_50, but I am positive in saying that property as good as that is probably under a VERY long Guaranteed Lease...even at $300 a person fine dinning restaurants don't see that much return, which is why they started doing lunch, and as an investor in what really is a smaller restaurant group, coming up with the few million it would take to re concept is a huge decision.
     

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