Where Chefs Eat: The Hardcover Version + Where Michael Voltaggio Goes for "Stoner Sushi"
Where Chefs Eat, a new book from Phaidon, is a compilation of the eateries worldwide where 400 chefs like to dine (David Chang, Rene Redzepi Eric Ripert, Daniel Boulud, Anita Lo, Fergus Henderson, among them) what they order, and when they like to go (very early, or very late, most likely). Sound familiar?
Edited by Joe Warwick, the book is a whopping 663 pages. Most of those pages are filled with restaurant addresses and reference info like their opening hours, type of cuisine, price range and credit card policy. Depending on your location for any given dinner, you can play a numbers game and choose the restaurant with the most chef recommendations, like El Cellar de Can Roca in Catalonia, or go with your favorite chef's recommendation (Gabrielle Hamilton recommends Otto Enoteca Pizzeria in Greenwich Village).
Locally? Ricardo Zarate is keen on Akasha for breakfast and Park's BBQ late at night. Matt Molina recommends Vincenti and Peet's Coffee -- and actually, that $2 caffeine jolt seems like an appropriate breakfast follow up to one of this city's finest, and most expensive, Italian restaurants.
The back of the book includes indexes by cuisine type and by restaurant, but the best index is the book's opening line: chefs by name and their restaurant picks by category (late-night, bargain, etc). Our favorite category: "Wish I'd opened." For Molina, it's Ink., for Steve Samson, Manresa in Los Gatos. There's also a "worth the travel" selection so chefs can dish on their favorite out-of-town spots.
A few words of caution: Many of the chefs make repeat appearances, perhaps as to be expected in a book with such breadth. But 400 chefs actually feels like a small number (in the Los Angeles section, for instance) when you parcel that out among chefs/restaurants around the world.
And only a handful of specific recommendations or chef quotes beyond accompany the text, such as Josef Centeno's frank late-night praise of Cactus Tacos: "They're always open and the tacos are always reliably good." This is more a book you might toss into a (big) suitcase (yes, an app is coming soon) to find out where chefs are dining in Bangkok and Brussels, but not necessarily what they are eating; many of the entries do not include a sample of the dishes.
All the more reason when we're hunting for local eats, we're going to keep asking chefs around here where they eat. Because much as those basic restaurant facts, and that occasional one-liner from a chef, are handy when you're in a hurry, it doesn't get you to those Michael Voltaggio "Where the Chefs Eat" gems like this one:
"I'll go one place for sashimi, one place for the full experience, and one place for ... how should I put this? Stoner sushi?" (Omi Sushi on Santa Monica in West Hollywood.)
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