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Friday, May 20, 2011

A Celebrity Chef Roundup, Moms Fight Back Against Foodie Culture

Posted By on Fri, May 20, 2011 at 8:00 AM


Today's notes on national stories, local trends, random tastes, and other bycatch dredged up from the food media.

1. All About the Celebrity Chefs. This week has brought a number of (actually) interesting interviews with big chefs. For instance, Eater National interviewed David Kinch about the state of California cuisine and his new role as dean of the French Culinary Institute's West Coast campus. Forbes Magazine interviewed Tyler Florence about why he had decided to invest all this money and energy establishing a restaurant empire in the Bay Area. (I've been curious myself.) It's the economy, stupid: During the last economic downturn, he told Forbes, he only made a couple hundred thousand dollars a year. This time, Flo swore he'd never go back to food stamps again. And Vanity Fair interviewed Marja Vongerichten, who's the wife of New York chef Jean-George and therefore qualified to host a new series called the Kimchi Chronicles. (Which, snark aside, looks beautifully done.)

2. Moms vs. Foodies. On Nona Brooklyn, a website in New York devoted to local foods, Robicelli's Cupcakes owner Allison Robicelli describes the horrific moment when her baby son, a half-hearted eater who she had fed strictly healthful food, discovered French fries.

And in the NYT, Virginia Heffernan wrote a column earlier in the week trying to restart the ideological struggle between James Beard and Poppy Cannon, the precursor to Sandra Lee, in the 1960s and 1970s. Heffernan described herself as being on the side of Cannon: a "techie" who hates cooking and is thrilled at all the modern convenience foods.

It was a fatuous piece, but Heffernan followed it up yesterday by having a more interesting conversation with Food52 editor Amanda Hesser about cooking at home. "I'll never believe that foodie eating is more convenient that hacky eating," Heffernan argued. "Your meals might beat ours on taste, history, politics, classiness, health, price and everything else. You can have it all. But eating canned chickpeas for lunch will always be easier than grilling fish and roasting asparagus. That much I know." Did Hesser acquit herself (and, by extension, the rest of us food obsessives) well in this debate? You be the judge.

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Follow me at @JonKauffman.

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