Over the past few days I've taken time away from my usual habitat of New York's fine dining restaurants and related hot spots to spend time with my friends in the world of chain restaurants.
It started on Thursday with an early morning departure for Dallas, where Nation's Restaurant News' 5th annual Culinary R&D conference was taking place, to be followed by our 47th annual Multi-unit Foodservice Operators conference, better known, believe it or not, as MUFSO (that's pronounced with a short 'u', not MOOF-so). Culinary R&D is for chain restaurants' corporate chefs, MUFSO is for chain restaurant executives.
They're both quite polished affairs -- our event guru Monique Monaco sees to that. So even though Culinary R&D didn't start until Friday night, I arrived on Thursday to start rehearsing my presentation on Mexican food.
My boss, Pam Parseghian, also landed on Thursday so she could rehearse her fod science remarks and her introduction of David Burke. And contributing editor Nancy Kruse, who prepared all of the materials for us, was there to rehearse her presentation on broad menu trends.
To get in the mood, and because New York has very bad Mexican food, I had a pork tamale, beef taco and chicken enchilada with green chile at Uncle Julio's.
That night, after our first rehearsal, Pam and I tried to have barbecue at Sonny Bryan's but ended up with a singularly inept taxi driver (or so we thought) who couldn't find his way around downtown Dallas' touristy West End. However, he did manage to find Pizza Patron, whose wings we wanted to sample. The plan was to have those wings and Sonny Bryan's barbecue, but instead we had Pizza Patron's wings and pizza.
The next day, before our second rehearsal, we got an equally inept taxi driver, proving that there was nothing singular about the first one. Pam persisted, however, and we did finally make it to Sonny Bryan's.
I avoid expressing my opinion of restaurants in my blog, but I will say that I've had better barbecue in New York.