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November 07, 2005



Interesting post on an interesting article. I can't help but wonder if Patterson would feel differently about SF as dining destination if his own French Laundry-ish restaurant was still open.

The odd thing to me is that he decries a lack of innovation, without explaining why innovation is a good thing. Is it? Well, sure, some of the time. But you don't want to regularly be subject to the experiments of a chef, any more than you would that of a doctor or mechanic. Did you read about the guy who prints edible paper in his inkjet printer? Or the guy who puts his sauces in little ampoules? I would try that once, but the other 29 days of the week I would prefer some pasta or a pork chop.

One quibble with your post: of course Delphina deservedly has a zillion regulars, but do you know the only reliable way to get a table at the French Laundry? Make your next reservation while you're dining there tonight.


I'm back -- I looked at the Patterson piece again after posting, and I have to say you give him too much credit when you describe his ultimate point. I don't think he has one. The guy is all over the place. It's like one of Maureen Dowd's lesser columns - a bunch of good lines tied together by nothing. No thesis. No unifying theme. No conclusion.

Dr. Biggles

I'm not inspired to read whatshis name's article, but reading yours was fun. My favorite quote, " Another truth is most geniuses don't get air-time, because they intimidate the majority, and we're all, like it or not, playing to the majority."
See, my boss is a "Genius". He has a business card with Genius as his job title. And brother, he ain't gettin' no air-time.
"Go for the pork chop, stay for the gravy." Quoth the Biggles.


shuna fish


I think Mr. Patterson had a hard time saying what he really felt. I tried to get his jists because I understand his main point.

I wanted the article to say more and that's because I KNOW more but even if he was meek I thought it took guts to say anything at all off color about ms H2O's!



You're right. I was giving too much credit. Even writing anonymously I still try to not be a hurtful person. I also wonder if ED were open or if Frisson was well-received if he would be writing this article.

Shuna: If you understand his main point, please explain it to me. What I got was in my last paragraph. But he didn't offer any solutions except to say good stuff about David Kinch. And to say that Keller had no influence on Bay Area chefs???!


Haddock, my computer has been out of comission for the past week, so I almost missed Patterson's article. Thanks for pointing it out.

Let's call it what it is. It's a thinly veiled publicity stunt. There was no well-crafted theme, because his main point was between the lines. His goal was to let us know that he is opening a restaurant, that he sees himself as being an innovator like Keller and Kinch, and that his price point will be similar to Oliveto (I know nothing of his new restaurant, but that is what the article seems to be saying).

It was in the NY Times, because he's also hoping to boost the Christmas sales of his cookbook. And he knows that the wealthier demographic of SF that he's hoping will try his restaurant reads the Times.

I'd guess that the Times let him publish such an obvious PR piece, because he put in a tiny bit of controversy (politely dissing Alice Waters) and played to the rivalry between NY and SF for title of best restaurant town in the US (by not so politely dissing SF...time will tell whether that was a smart move).

Although I personally disagree with most of what he wrote, I say hats off to Patterson for a bold and courageous PR move. Should get people in the door. Then it's up to him to see if his food manages to do what most so-called innovative or fusion food, in my opinion, doesn't. Taste good. Kinch's food is both innovative and seasonal and it is delicious. That's why it works.

The other possibility is that Patterson's piece will piss so many locals off that the only place he'll be able to open a restaurant will be NY!


Yes, Brett. Because he bailed from his most recent gig, making arty fake food, and he's mad that we didn't want to eat it.


In the interim I've dug up a little more info. One source feels that Patterson was writing against the hegemony of Alice Waters and Eleanor Bertino (her public relations person) in Bay Area media.

Bay Area chefs, not in the inner circle allegedly aren't invited to events where they should be participating because they are deemed, not "Chez ok". Clients of Bertino are given preferential treatment in areas where the playing field should be level.

I don't doubt this is true. I do doubt that it's any different anywhere else. It's just a different hegemony in Chicago or New York. So I don't know if this really has any bearing on Patterson's article.


On my last comment, that shouldn't be read as any sort of information coming from Shuna. She did intimate that she knows more about what's under Patterson's skin, but she's not the source I'm citing.

Jessica Moskovitz

On a side note, I don't give Jeremiah Tower any credit AT ALL. He ran a lousy, overrated, see and be "scene" restaurant that rightly died an ignominious death.

I went to Stars when I was just 18 and even with my then relatively uneducated palate I knew I was eating over-rated food. It just wasn't great.

On the other hand, I've eaten at Chez P about a dozen times (mostly upstairs) and I've never had anything that wasn't both simple, on the one hand, and transcendantly complex, on the other. Even Bertoli isn't as consistent.




Don't get me wrong, I'm not a Tower fan either. And Stars wasn't in my thoughts when I wrote what I did.

I still believe though that he was better equipped to recognize good produce when he saw it than Waters was, AT THAT TIME. I believe as he writes in his tell all book that she was more politically oriented, more community oriented and more inclined to support a supplier based on personal relationship, rather than quality.

It is also pretty well documented (by others) that he really put Chez Panisse on the map. What isn't well-documented are his methods.

Jamie Cusak

I enjoy your blog quite a bit, and this was a very interesting post. Interesting to see people who know and love food and their attitude toward the various chefs in the Bay Area. Daniel Patterson sounds like a bit of a brat to me, but I was never a huge fan of his food when he worked here. I do love the food of David Kinch. A newspaper in my neighborhood had a great interview with him and he says some very interesting things about his approach to food and cooking. Also an interesting passage on him assembling food on the spot in his kitchen. Here's the article if anyone wants to read it. If you love Kinch, this is definitly a fun read.

in the know

I need to point out that the person who wrote that Eleanor Bertino has a hedgemony over the food scene forgot to mention that Bertino was the publicist for Patterson's Frisson venture prior to him leaving. So if they used the same publicist who supposedly has a stronghold how can he be complaining?

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