Thursday, May 14, 2009

over the transom

May 14

Time for a bit of housekeeping and news reportage
Thanks to the 42 people who participated in the poll asking what type of blog entry you prefer to read here. A solid 16 percent said you like news, so here we go:

Item 1) For national readers, and people in Baltimore, my friend E. Michael Reidt has a new job. He has joined the San Francisco-based Kimpton Group to be the executive chef of B&O American Brasserie in Baltimore, scheduled to open this July.
I sent E. Michael an e-mail about it, and he replied, “Sssshhhh!! Don't tell anyone! It's a secret.....” but as I did, in fact, get the information in a press release I’m going to go ahead and report it.
B&O will be Kimpton's first restaurant in Maryland, and apparently the menu will be “approachable American brasserie” food, plus a pizza oven.
E. Michael's background is varied and interesting. He’s a New Englander who also spent time in Miami before heading out to California. He has a particular passion for Brazilian things (food, spouses), and recent travels include an extended excursion to Southeast Asia. He’s a Food & Wine Best New Chef, class of 2001. We met several years ago in Aspen, where I bonded with him and another 2001 Best New Chef, Randy Lewis, which leads me to

News item 2) From SF Weekly’s Sfoodie blog, Randy is going to head up the kitchen at Tavern at Lark Creek in Larkspur, Calif. I actually met Randy before meeting Michael. He spent some time as corporate chef for Kendall-Jackson winery, which for awhile was the wine sponsor of the National Pork Producers Council’s national cooking competition, Taste of Elegance, which I attend with enthusiasm whenever I can, less for the pork than for the chefs, because as great as the pork is, the chefs are greater. Mostly Midwestern salt-of-the-earth guys. Randy's not Midwestern, and he’s certainly more high-profile than most of the chefs at Taste of Elegance, but he's a good guy all the same.
And a busy guy. He’s also involved in a would-be burger chain called Best-o-Burger. It just has one unit now, so it’s not a chain, but Randy says they have signed a lease for a second location, are working on a third and are trying to move forward with licensing deals for 50 locations in Los Angeles.

Speaking of burgers, for New Yorkers, news item 3) Elevation Burger, a chain based in Arlington, Va., that serves organic hamburgers (made from grass-finished, free range cattle, thank you very much) and French fries cooked in olive oil, has its sights set on lower Manhattan. It has signed a franchising deal with Fabian Rosario and John Harris.
It might take awhile, though. Elevation Burger currently has just three locations (in Falls Church and Arlington in Virginia, and in Baltimore), but has signed deals to open 40 more throughout the mid-Atlantic as well as in Texas and Florida. It is unusual for all such deals to bear fruit. Then again, Fransmart has been put in charge of the development plans, and that’s the same company that has helped Five Guys Burgers & Fries expand so rapidly. So, you never know.
Rosario and Harris are Brooklyn restaurateurs. Rosario co-owns the Brooklyn IHOP, and Harris owns The Spot American Bistro in Prospect Heights.

Okay, finishing up, the results of my latest poll:


Quick news about restaurant openings and chef changes: 7 (16%)

Gossipy items about who shows up at what parties: 3 (7%)

Meandering think pieces on food and life in general: 11 (26%)

Personal reminiscences and thoughts of family and friends: 2 (4%)

Entries that let readers live vicariously through a New York food writer: 4 (9%)

Travel pieces: 0 (0%)

All of the above: 15 (35%)

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