The Cool New School Of Restaurateurs

Roberto Viernes
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Wednesday - May 04, 2011
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There are a few people with whom i would love to trade jobs. that might come as a surprise to some of you as i do have a great job, but wait until you hear who.

Andrew Zimmern’s job would be pretty cool to have. Hosting a show, traveling and eating exotic food sounds like a ton of fun to me, including eating all those critters. (i’m not afraid.) Anthony bourdain has a sweet gig, too. i love the rawness of his show No Reservations as well as his knowledge and commentary. His travels take him to places and restaurants i dream of visiting.

One recent show really echoed with me. it was his 100th show, where he revisits Paris to see what is hot and new. He is joined by eric rippert, Chef at Le bernardin a 3 Michelin star restaurant in Manhattan. What he found was that the haughtiness of fine dining is waning, and that a new “bistrofication” is happening in Paris, where the hottest and some of the most talented chefs are no longer found in the Michelin-starred halls of haute cuisine. they are now being found in bistros that thumb their noses at the Michelin establishment. they are typically smaller restaurants that pay more attention to the ingredients and quality of the food than the ambiance. Passionate and creative chefs in the small kitchens put their hearts and genius into their dishes that rival those in “fine-dining” establishments that charge triple and quadruple the price. it seems that there is a parallel in the world of wine. Many wine lovers need not go for the ultra luxurious and rarefied wines that occupy the stratosphere any longer. For one, they are unattainable (read expensive). in our depressed economy, fewer wine drinkers have the disposable income to throw at the wines in that category.

It seems that echelon is only for the rich and privileged. but more than that, there are wine producers from every country, in almost every appellation who are making wines that can rival the great names at a fraction of the price. this is where the real wine lover is living life. instead of a Grand Cru red burgundy, they are finding village and Premier Cru wines from great vintages such as 2009, or those same wines with a few years on them at better prices that are just as satisfying. instead of a Cult Cabernet with a $400 sticker, wine drinkers have found the $75 to $100 Cabs are just as huge, but without the huge name or price. in food, people are leaning more toward relaxed experiences instead of the haughtiness and decorum of white tablecloths and tuxedoed servers. Wine has that parallel, too. Wine lists and wine programs all around the country are trying to make it easier for guests to find just the right bottle of wine. they are offering wines at friendlier price points so we can try more of them. More restaurants are offering tasting portions instead of buying a full glass to help guests relax and find just the right wine for their tastes. there won’t be a wholesale disappearance of the upper echelon in food or wine, nor should there be. they provide a standard to which all others should strive. the new school is to make it just as good without the gigantic price tag. it’s a sleeker, leaner but just as tasty business model.

Now about that job ... How about being a judge on Iron Chef?

Recommendations: 2009 Condesa eylo verdejo ($14) Crisp and refreshing with zesty citrus notes, this wine is wonderfully cleansing. it’s just one of those wines that makes you want to slow down and smile. 2007 Trefethen Merlot ($30) Juicy, sleek with very good depth and boatloads of flavor, this Merlot is like the bottom of a sailboat cutting through the water - smooth with lots of momentum.

Roberto Viernes is a master sommelier. E-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
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