Welcome to our exciting new partnership with Eater. For this weekly Friday column, Eater editor Paolo Lucchesi gives his opinionated report on all the restaurant news that's fit to print, including chef gossip, openings and closings, Top Chef updates and the latest pizza slingers.
1) Not even a hand-picked dream team of French Laundry chefs coached by Lords Thomas Keller and Daniel Boulud could take home the top prize at the Bocuse d’Or competition, aka the Food Olympics. The American team placed an honorable sixth, while those damn Norweigians emerged victorious.
2) Oh noes! Has the food world finally reached a tipping point with Lady Alice Waters? First, Tony Bourdain confessed that the Chez Panisse matron “annoys the living shit” out of him, then some New Yorkers called her out for non-local hypocrisy during the Inauguration galas, and finally, NPR anointed her the food police. Expect Slow Food Nation to defend its gouda goddess in 3 … 2 …
3) Even though this week’s Top Chef took on a cringe-worthy (but timely!) Super Bowl theme, local rep Jamie Lauren still continued to rock the competition. And Padma’s outfit matched the occasion. So, there’s that.
4) With the economy as rocky as ever, the January shutters kept coming. Among the past week’s casualties: Mecca, North Beach Lobster Shack, Lou’s, Breezy’s and La Vinoteca. Sweets to the sweet, farewell.
5) But it’s not all bad news by any means, because with every restaurant death comes the opportunity for someone new to move in. Sunflower is claiming the old Baraka space in Potrero Hill, but even juicier are the rumors that champion pizza makers are coming to North Beach. They have been known to perform wacky, mind-boggling pizza tricks like this on the Food Network.
6) For those of you unaware, Eater has always enjoyed covering—and at times, revealing the darker side of— the local phenomenon that is Yelp. On Monday, Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman penned a piece in the paper, admirably defending the value of Yelp as a consumer’s instrument of free speech, but he failed to address the myriad other complaints with the controversial company, like accusations of dishonorable sales tactics and the fact that the company gives editorial preference to those who can buy ads.
7) On the print media front, this past Wednesday marked the swan song for the Chronicle’s Wednesday food section. Going forward, restaurant coverage will be sprinkled between the Thursday Datebook and a shiny new Sunday section that combines the Food and Wine sections. Who’s excited?