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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2009 Alt Foodie Trend No. 2: Our Confidence Slipped

Posted By on Wed, Dec 30, 2009 at 10:39 AM

We're wrapping up our countdown of the top 10 alternative food and restaurant trends of 2009. See also: No. 3: Going Primal; No. 4: Major DIY-ness; No. 5: Profit Margins Crashed; No. 6: Beer Busted Out; No. 7: Twitter Ruled; No. 8: Sportin' Wood; No. 9: Street-Food Busts; No. 10: Porn Star Chefs

click to enlarge Chang (left) with Anthony Bourdain, during the N.Y. appearance that gave rise to Fig-gate. - NEW YORK CITY WINE AND FOOD FESTIVAL/FLICKR
S.F. Alt Foodie Trend No. 2: Confidence Check

S.F. chefs and restaurants doubted their chops in the annus horribilis of 2009, when mainstream media focused on the food exodus to Oakland, and a Manhattan chef known for popping off stirred up an overreaction that exposed the city's fragile sense of its own culinary awesomeness. The Oakland-is-the-next-food-mecca meme was seriously overblown. Even if Commis is a gem S.F. would've been proud to have, and one of the city's most thoughtful chefs opened up to SFoodie about policy decisions that've proved calamitous for small restaurants, Pícan, Bocanova, Ozumo, and Chop Bar do not a national foodie hotspot make.

Still, the attention Oakland received was a mark of San Francisco's very real feelings of vulnerability. And when remarks by New York chef David Chang about figs on a plate dropped, a small group of local chefs pressured the NorCal Asia Society to yank its invitation. Fig-gate exposed the city's very real insecurity about its market-driven culinary vernacular, even as some San Franciscans lashed out at Chang (SFoodie chose not to publish the most inflammatory and frankly racist reader comments we received about the controversy). All of which prompted us to ask, Can't we all just get along ― and love our chefs for what they are?

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