This weekend was the second ever Taste Talks event in Brooklyn. Curated by bicoastal chef Danny Bowien and "officially presented" by chef Mario Batali, the weekend featured demos, a star-studded barbecue, and a "future foods" expo. The eponymous panel discussions ranged in topics from "Do Restaurant Reviews Matter?" to "How Food Television Lifted Chefs to Cult Status" with various food folks like Sam Sifton (former NYT critic), Alex Guarnaschelli (Chopped), Ken Friedman (Spotted Pig), and many others participating. Below, a sampling of the best quotes from the panels. Go, read:
1) Kerry Diamond (Cherry Bombe, Yahoo Food), on whether print is dying: "When print is dead, civilization is dead."
2) Sam Sifton (former NY Times restaurant critic) on why restaurant reviews matter: "I tend to think that professional reviews matter. That restaurants are a cultural product, no different from an opera or a Broadway play and should be assessed by professionals."
3) Carlo Mirarchi (Blanca, Roberta's, NYC) on what restaurant critics can do better: "To have a better education on food, to travel more. I don't think you should be reviewing sushi restaurants and giving out four-star reviews if you haven't eaten that much in Japan."
4) Sam Sifton on Michelin: "Have you read a Michelin review (in the guide book)? I think it's like Google Translate."
5) Sam Sifton on responsibility and negative reviews: "You better be right if you're going to be negative."
Christina Tosi, Momofuku Milk Bar, NYC.
6) Ken Friedman (Spotted Pig, NYC; Tosca Cafe, SC) on delivering on hype: "People will go to a place they hear is buzzy and happening, but they won't go again if it's not good ... If the experience [at the Spotted Pig] was really hip and groovy but the food was bad, people would go once and the buzz would spread like wildfire about how bad it is."
7) Ken Friedman on handling pre-opening press: "You're supposed to under-promise and over-deliver, but now it's really hard to under-promise because everybody around you is making promises on your behalf, talking about how great it's going to be."
8) Christine Muhlke (Bon Appétit) on editorial edicts: "I'm not allowed to do Scandinavia more than three times a year, which really cuts into my wheelhouse."
9) Alex Guarnaschelli (Butter, NYC, Chopped) on advice for chefs on TV: "Never drink alcohol, ever. Just don't ever do it when you're on TV."
10) Christina Tosi (Momofuku Milk Bar, NYC) on owning her palate: "When you're in New York and you work in the food scene, sometimes you think the expectation that as you make your way up, your tastes are supposed to elevate and elevate. And they do, but there's also nothing wrong with celebrating the ordinary, because inevitably, that's what anchors a lot of our taste buds."
Taste Talk's All-Star BBQ.