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Food: a global experience that connects fashion, media, art and our own senses. FDL attended the event Pleasure and the Palate at the 34th IACP (International Association of Culinary Professionals), just held in New York, which featured the chefs Mario Batali and Gabrielle Hamilton, Sam Sifton, the former restaurant critic at The New York Times, and author Peter Kaminsky. Moderating the discussion was event producer Doug Duda. Each guest explained what, for them, makes a great restaurant and how great restaurants become opportunities to gather and take part in a kind of collective enjoyment. Of course, there were also favorite New York addresses and the personal recipes that these gourmets turn to when they are cooking for loved ones in the intimacy of their own kitchens.
Ah, yes: one can hardly talk about food these days without referring to social media. Even the simplest dishes can become immediate trends, and chefs have never been so globally visible. Mario Batali, for example has 260,000 Twitter followers who gobble up his 10-15 tweets per day. “It’s an immediate tool that helps you quickly understand how many people love what you do, and how many others hate it: there’s no better place to be humble!” Not everyone is of the same opinion, of course. Gabrielle Hamilton admits to not being a huge fan of such immediate discourse, and one so limited by a restricted number of characters: “I need time and space for a good conversation, and to tell stories that are less personal and more universal; especially when they’re tied to food.”
Closing the conversation about fashion and food, was Hamilton’s observation that “If we’re talking about what people wear in the kitchen, all right,” she said. “But one should never think about a specific dish as if it could go out of style, like a dress.” Batali added his thoughts: “The main characteristic of great restaurants is that they make great food every day, and they don’t do it for a season, but for years. Being a good chef doesn’t mean being at the mercy of a creative whim on Wednesday, and then losing it on Friday.”
The work of a chef, he explained, “requires consistency, dedication and commitment. This has nothing to do with fashion.” And then expert eater Sam Sifton offered a bit of advice: “Personally? I only go to restaurants whose menus don’t change for years, and where I’m sure I’ll be eating the same, excellent food.”