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I have to admit that I get it and cant really put up a cogent argument against any of it. But, I also cant put my finger on exactly what bothers me about it. Probably its because, from the perspective of an accomplished eater, I have trouble acknowleging that stars & accolades cant just be about how good it tastes, but have to be about the degree of difficulty and the goals and all the other things you all can patiently explain. If it's any comfort, I have the same problem understanding art & prefer the "I like the way it looks" approach. Of course, with Doctors I may choose to argue in favor of simplicity, low degree of difficulty, and easily attainable goals, leading to the patient living afterwards. What can I say, I love 2 star Italian food more than 4 star French so the # of stars bother me. But thanks for the explanations... I can at least appreciate that there's something real behind the curtain.

FWIW, even in this highly idiosyncratic, largely French standard of restaurant evaluation, I think Japanese (both sushi and kaiseki) and Chinese (especially high-level Cantonese) can definitely occupy the highest tier.

 

Of enjoyment yes but not, it seems, in terms of accomplishment. I know little of Japanese but cant imagine that Chinese food can be complicated enough to make it there. I'd think Indian food would have a better chance, since its such a complicated mix of spicings that gaylords are masters of and its slow preparation lends itself better to "method" comparisons. Of course, it figures that I like Chinese food better than Japanese. I'm so ashamed.

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It's the Fall Preview issue of New York magazine, and there's a profile of Batali's new Meatpacking District place, Del Posto.     More Fall Preview food stuff

Actually hiring their CdC did

Wow. I don't disbelieve you in any way but those rates are pretty unbelievable.

FWIW, even in this highly idiosyncratic, largely French standard of restaurant evaluation, Japanese (sushi, kaiseki, and traditional) and Chinese (especially high-level Cantonese) cuisine can (and do) occupy the highest tier.

 

Exactly. I was going to type a paragraph about that but I got tired. Through historical accident rather than cross-fertilization of influences, these cultures shared some common standards with respect to the art of dining. As Curnonsky reportedly commented when comparing French and Chinese gastronomy, "La cuisine et la politesse." Or cooking plus formal courtesies; it's the latter aspect, broadly, which I think Steve R. lucidly recuses himself from valuing. And why not?

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I am convinced that any cuisine which rises above mere subsistence can be transformed into cuisine which fits the four star profile. However, the strategy for doing so does involve accepting and aspiring to criteria for excellence which derive historically from the French tradition.

I think not. Chinese and Japanese cuisines have an haute tradition completely unrelated to the French and which can aspire to to astronomic without change.

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I know little of Japanese but cant imagine that Chinese food can be complicated enough to make it there.

You are so, so wrong. I haven't travelled extensively in the far east, but a short trip to Hong Kong convinced me that Chinese can be every bit as technically challenging, refined and, ahem, delicious as top tier French food in France.

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Of enjoyment yes but not, it seems, in terms of accomplishment.

Japan is killing it as far as Michelin is concerned: fourteen 3* (twelve of which are Japanese) and fifty-two 2* in Tokyo vs. ten 3* and fifteen 2* in Paris. Of course, Tokyo is enormous, but it's an unbelievable place for dining; you certainly don't need Michelin to tell you that.

 

 

I know little of Japanese but cant imagine that Chinese food can be complicated enough to make it there.

Good Chinese food in China is nothing like what we have in NYC. It's on a completely different level, and even unrecognizable in many cases.

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In rereading Dave's (chop's) post I will clarify. While I think it is *possible* to be an Italian or (insert ethnicity here) restaurant and be 4 stars, I will contend that in order to do that, you are crossing that threshold on the "Everything else" not the food. I don't think that the Italian food that Mario and Lidia had/have in mind, will ever possess enough inherent degree of difficulty or wow factor to be 4 stars--and for the record, Daniel probably doesn't either. With that said, you need to kick ass in all the other aspects of the experience--which I don't think Del Posto does--in order to get there.

 

Where Dave and I *might* diverge is in the necessity to be avant garde ethnic in order to get there. I don't think potato foam is going to push you over the top if your wine list is still inadequate or your cheese service is poor or your wait staff is not really tight.

 

Put another way, can someone make the case for Bouley's Danube--purely on menu focus--being a 4 star restaurant if Bouley made it his top priority, like Mario did with Del Posto? Let's assume Bouley shut down Bouley proper post 9/11 and decided to focus on Danube as the economy recovered. He expands the wine list, he brings over some of his best wait staff and cooks and says, "why not Eastern European food?" Can anyone see haute beef goulash and potato pancakes getting 4 stars? It's a curious mental exercise...

NY'ers are biased towards Italian food. Its a cultural thing.

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So, like, what cuisine is Alinea serving?

 

If this is a serious question, I think Grant would be the first one to say that his technique is firmly grounded in the Keller/Franco centric tradition. What he does from there, is up to this creativity and whimsy.

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So, like, what cuisine is Alinea serving?

 

If this is a serious question, I think Grant would be the first one to say that his technique is firmly grounded in the Keller/Franco centric tradition. What he does from there, is up to this creativity and whimsy.

 

I think he's got one of the largest French + New American vocabularies out there, and he's mashing that up with an El Bulli clone, but then also has some SEA influences.

 

I think the discussion would benefit from leaving the hypothetical and returning to reality.

 

In the reality I know, you can walk 500 meters in hipster Paris and reach a bistronomique joint that will be twice as expensive, and much more than twice as good as what you just drove to for 50 miles in central Italy. At the same time, while the michelin guide is busy pissing on the heads of traditional Spanish cooks, the latter are serving ingredients of quality the French never get to see, which allows them to just slap them on a grill or in the oven and be done with it. Japan is just great because they recognize quality and are willing to do insane amounts of work to get it (and, don't read this, will fuck the environment and kill everything to eat well while selling everyone some clean schoolgirl Buddhist kitsch).

 

eta: of course I mentioned Aliena because it's increasingly going to be the case that serious chefs have easy access to the inventory of all recipes, ideas, cooking philosophies, scientific facts, food additives... speaking of specific national cuisines at the high end is going to be difficult and you'll only see it as a marketing device as it is in Noma. I don't think we'll ever see another sharp break like Nouvelle Cuisine (even though molecular gastronomy fans like to think of it this way), but I don't think it means cuisine will stop, rather the same thing will happen as what Sneakfried is denying on that other thread. I could mention Manresa too but I haven't eaten there and I think few participants have - Kinch's cuisine seems like it's a center of mass of Arpege, Tokyo, and NoCal.

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I am convinced that any cuisine which rises above mere subsistence can be transformed into cuisine which fits the four star profile. However, the strategy for doing so does involve accepting and aspiring to criteria for excellence which derive historically from the French tradition.

I think not. Chinese and Japanese cuisines have an haute tradition completely unrelated to the French and which can aspire to to astronomic without change.

You are actually agreeing with me, which suggests I didn't express it clearly enough. Yes, of course Japanese and Chinese cuisines developed completely independently of the French tradition. I am suggesting that, also independently, they developed critical criteria which - if not identical with the French tradition - are easily recognized and admired by anyone familiar with the French tradition. The same can't be said, for example, of Italian or British or German dining (in general).

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Japan is just great because they recognize quality and are willing to do insane amounts of work to get it (and, don't read this, will fuck the environment and kill everything to eat well while selling everyone some clean schoolgirl Buddhist kitsch).

The Chinese do this too. But the Japanese will deplete the oceans first.

 

And what's with the Kajitsu hate bleeding over into this thread? Places like that contribute the least to the above!

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Good Chinese food in China is nothing like what we have in NYC. It's on a completely different level, and even unrecognizable in many cases.

 

Talking about the fancy banquet stuff of course. I recall that Adam Balic thought the old Sultan-level banquetting of the Ottoman empire made the grade too. For those who don't know, Balic was a former eGullet poster and cult hero with a profound knowledge of international food history, chicken slaughtering and record-breaking duck penises.

 

ETA: If anyone still has that photo... well just don't, that's all. :ph43r:

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Japan is just great because they recognize quality and are willing to do insane amounts of work to get it (and, don't read this, will fuck the environment and kill everything to eat well while selling everyone some clean schoolgirl Buddhist kitsch).

The Chinese do this too. But the Japanese will deplete the oceans first.

 

And what's with the Kajitsu hate bleeding over into this thread? Places like that contribute the least to the above!

 

Don't forget that the Japanese also make beef that floats on water.

 

No hating, just amused by the gap between reality and perception.

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