Wolfgang Puck and Daniel Boulud cook together at the Hotel Bel-Air – highlights from the menu

Puck_BouludIt’s not often that two world-renowned chefs come together to cook alongside each other so when Wolfgang Puck and Daniel Boulud decided to join forces for a special dinner this week, it was a pretty big deal.

The duo, arguably the most celebrated chefs in their respective adopted home cities of Los Angeles and New York at opposites coasts of the USA, held the one-off event at Puck’s eponymous restaurant at the Dorchester Collection’s luxury Hotel Bel-Air.

With its beautiful garden setting, the restaurant played host to the two chefs, who together created a seven-course tasting menu showcasing local Californian ingredients, with paired wines from Ca’ del Bosco in Lombardy, Italy.

It was the first time the two celebrity chefs worked one-on-one in the kitchen together, and coincided with the launch of Boulud’s latest cookbook, DANIEL: My French Cuisine, which marks the 20th anniversary of his three-Michelin-starred flagship restaurant, DANIEL in Manhattan.

Here are a few highlights from the menu.

amuseAmouse bouche: Smoked chicken liver pastrami and white truffle “toad in a hole” by Wolfgang Puck, paired with Franciacorta, Ca’ del Bosco “Cuvée Prestige”.

fishCaraway-cured Tai snapper with cucumber dill broth, Osetra caviar and sea urchin by Daniel Boulud, paired with Franciacorta, Ca’ del Bosco “Cuvée Annamaria Clementi” 2004.

prawnsSanta Barbara Spot Prawn with Nam Prik Noom, holy basil and coriander by Wolfgang Puck, paired with Chardonnay, Ca’ del Bosco 2009.

beefDuo of beef: braised Black Angus short ribs, seared wagyu tenderloin, Chermoula spiced carrot purée and porcini duxelle by Daniel Boulud, paired with Rosso del Sebino, Ca’ del Vosco “Maurizio Zanella” 1997.

dessertScotch whisky chocolate cake with Urfa Biber and popcorn sherbet by Wolfgang Puck, paired with Dalmore Highland single malt selected by Daniel Boulud.

D&WThe dinner was priced $220, plus $85 for the paired wines. I was there as a guest of Daniel Boulud’s. Pictures courtesy of the Dorchester Collection.

Zagat names top restaurants in Los Angeles

zagat-2014Zagat has unleashed the results of its latest eating out guide for Los Angeles and crowned the city’s top restaurants.

Japanese eateries topped both the lists for best food and most popular places, with Asanebo and Sugarfish by Sushi Nozawa triumphing in the two categories, respectively.

The 2014 Zagat Los Angeles Restaurant Survey features 1,499 restaurants (could they really not find one more?!?) as rated and reviewed by 19,694 diners.

It found that on average the people of LA eat out 2.4 times a week for dinner and spend an average of $38.62 per person, just below the national US average of $40.53.

Their biggest gripe is noise, with three quarters of diners saying they avoid restaurants that are too loud. They also don’t like waiting for a table, and 49% said they tend to book a restaurant online, while 46% still like to make a reservation over the phone.

LA diners prize sushi (four of the five top food winners are Japanese restaurants) and love an eclectic offering as the top five most popular restaurants include Japanese, Italian, American-French, Spanish and Californian restaurants.

Here are the 2014 Zagat Los Angeles Restaurant Survey results:

asaneboTop Food
1. Asanebo – Hidden in a strip mall in Studio City, it serves “impeccable sushi” and “top-tier omakase”.
2. Sushi Zo
3. Hamasaku
4. Mélisse
5. Nobu Matsuhisa


SugarFishMost Popular
1. Sugarfish by Sushi Nozawa – It serves a simplified sushi menu at a price that won’t break the bank.
2. Angelini Osteria
3. Mélisse
4. The Bazaar by José Andrés
5. Spago


bestiaKey Newcomers
1. Bestia – Chef Ori Menashe offers flawless charcuterie,  pastas and sourdough pizzas.
2. The Royce Wood-Fired Steakhouse
3. Chego!
4. Hinoki & the Bird
5. Hole in the Wall


jose_andresBest Small Plates
1. Bazaar by José Andrés – It leads the small-plates trend with playful molecular dishes like the liquid olives as well as traditional tapas.
2. Manhattan Beach Post
3. Leila’s
4. Cleo
5. K-Zo


michael-s-pizzeriaBest Pizza
1. Michael’s Pizzeria – Dedicated to traditional Neapolitan-style pies, it makes everything from the dough to the cheese in-house daily.
2. Pizzeria Mozza
3. Vito’s
4. Mozza2Go
5. Gjelina


golden_state_burgerBest Burgers
1. Golden State – Made of Harris Ranch beef and topped with Fiscalini cheddar, glazed applewood smoked bacon and rocket, aïoli and ketchup
2. Tommy’s
3. In-N-Out
4. Hole in the Wall
5. 25 Degrees


melisseTop Service
1. Mélisse – Surveyors say that the service at chef Josiah Citrin’s French-American restaurant is impeccable.
2. Providence
3. Urasawa
4. N/Naka
5. The Belvedere


the-belvedereTop Décor
1. The Belvedere – Diners “feel pampered” in this “lovely”, “quiet” dining room.
2. Mar’sel
3. Sir Winston’s
4. Saddle Peak Lodge
5. The Royce Wood Fired Steakhouse



San Francisco gets new two-star restaurant from Michelin

COUV_SF_2014.inddMichelin has unveiled its 2014 guide to San Francisco, the Bay Area & Wine Country and has promoted Quince to two stars.

Quince, a Relais & Chateaux property located in San Francisco’s Jackson Square, is housed in a historic brick and timber building and offers Italian and French inspired tasting menus that celebrate the seasonal produce of Northern California.

Its promotion from one to two stars sees San Francisco and its surrounding area edge ahead of other US Michelin guides, including New York and Chicago, with the most two-Michelin-starred establishments in the country as it now boasts seven: Atelier Crenn, Benu, Coi, Quince and Saison in the city as well as Baumé and Manresa, south of San Francisco.

There was no change at the top with Michelin’s 2014 guide to San Francisco, the Bay Area & Wine Country as Thomas Keller’s French Laundry and Christopher Kostow’s Restaurant at Meadowood both retained their three-star-status.

Michelin also awarded one star to State Bird Provisions, a popular restaurant in San Francisco, which is named after California’s state bird and whose signature dish is fried quail.

Among the losers were La Costanera, which was demoted from one-star to Bib Gourmand, as well as Masa’s (closed), Redd, Alexander’s Steakhouse and Frances, which all lost their stars.

The full 2014 list of Michelin stars in San Francisco, the Bay Area & Wine Country:

The French Laundry
The Restaurant at Meadowood

Atelier Crenn
Quince (NEW)

All Spice
Auberge du Soleil
Campton Place
Chez TJ
Farmhouse Inn & Restaurant
Gary Danko
Keiko à Nob Hill
La Folie
La Toque
Madrona Manor
Michael Mina
Plumed Horse
Sons & Daughters
State Bird Provisions (NEW)
Terrapin Creek
The Village Pub

The Hand & Flowers triumphs at UK National Restaurant Awards

Tom KerridgeThe Hand & Flowers in Marlow has been voted the Restaurant of the Year 2013 in the National Restaurant Awards.

The two-Michelin-starred pub, run by husband and wife team Tom and Beth Kerridge, was also named Gastropub of the Year in the National Restaurant Awards, which are organised by Restaurant magazine. It replaces The Ledbury in London’s Notting Hill, which had held the title for the previous three years.

The award comes just two weeks after Kerridge, who currently stars in his own BBC series, Proper Pub Food, won the Chefs’ Chef award at the AA Hospitality awards.

The annual National Restaurant Awards recognise and celebrate the 100 best places to eat out in the UK – as voted for by industry experts.

Other awards included the Chefs’ Chef of the Year, which was handed to Stephen Harris of the Michelin-starred Sportsman in Seasalter, Kent, while the Clove Club in London’s Shoreditch was named the highest new entry, after placing fifth in the list of the UK’s top 100 restaurants.

The awards list in full:
National Restaurant of the Year and Gastropub of the Year – The Hand & Flowers, Marlow, Buckinghamshire
Highest New Entry – The Clove Club, Shoreditch, London
Chefs’ Chef of the Year – Stephen Harris, The Sportsman
Best Restaurant in Scotland – The Kitchin, Leith, Edinburgh
Best Restaurant in Wales – The Hardwick, Abergavenney
Best Restaurant in Northern Ireland – Shu, Belfast
Sustainable Restaurant of the Year – Grain Store, Kings Cross, London
Wine List of the Year – 10 Greek Street, Soho, London
One To Watch – Manchester House, Manchester

The top 20 UK restaurants are:
1. The Hand & Flowers
2. The Ledbury
3. Pollen Street Social
4. L’Enclume
5. The Clove Club
6. Restaurant Sat Bains
7. The Sportsman
8. The Square
9. Grain Store
10. Dinner by Heston Blumenthal
11. Dabbous
12. The Fat Duck
13. The Kitchin
14. Hedone
15. Bocca Di Lupo
16. Brasserie Chavot
17. Restaurant Andrew Fairlie
18. 10 Greek Street
19. Le Gavroche
20. The Hardwick

You can view the full top 100 list here.

Why LA’s food scene rocks

Los AngelesLos Angeles has never enjoyed a particularly great reputation as a foodie destination. In fact, it’s largely seen as lagging behind other major US cities like New York, Chicago and San Francisco when it comes to fine restaurants and top chefs. But I’m here to tell you otherwise. Believe it or not, LA has an amazing food scene that can compete with any of these cities any day of the week.

When most people hear the words “restaurants” and “LA” in one sentence, images of people stuffing their faces at Taco Bell and McDonald’s drive-thrus spring to mind; or on the opposite extreme, health freaks ordering egg-white omelettes, and celebrities pushing salad leaves around their plates at glitzy places in Beverly Hills.

Michelin Los AngelesIndeed when Michelin announced it was axing its guide to LA in 2009 having failed to award three stars to anyone, few people were shocked by former director Jean-Luc Naret’s assertion that there was no appreciation for good food in the city. “The people in LA are not real foodies,” he spat. “They are not too interested in eating well but just in who goes to which restaurant and where they sit.”

After less than two months of living here, I’m still new to LA and there’s a lot I need to learn and understand about this city. But if there’s one thing that’s already become crystal clear it’s that LA’s reputation as culinary dead zone is unfair and Naret’s comments couldn’t be further removed from the truth.

Yes, LA is everything you think it is. I’ve had such gigantic portions of greasy junk slapped down in front of me that I felt physically violated. I’ve observed minor celebrities arriving at restaurants accompanied by fake tits that put Jordan to shame, doing a lap of honour to turn heads and then leave again without even picking up a menu. And if I hear one more person bang on about the benefits of hydrating with coconut water, I will scream. (It tastes like shampoo, people, what’s wrong with you?!?).

But guess what – there is a serious food scene here too, you’ve just got to look for it.

Farmers market basketLOCAL PRODUCE
Thanks to its sunny climate, Southern California has some of the best fruit and vegetables in the world and there are plenty of local farmers markets where impassioned foodies gather each week. There is a growing sector of microbreweries producing some of the top craft ales in the US, and we all know that some of the best wines in the world come from California.

What’s more, LA has a thriving independent restaurant industry, too. The city is home to a vast number of serious restaurants that offer excellent cooking in a relaxed environment and at affordable prices. You can eat at some of LA’s most acclaimed restaurants – Alma, Bestia or Gjelina, to name just a few – below $50 a head. Now I’m no expert on the wider US dining market (yet) but the last time I was in New York and San Francisco, I spent a hell of a lot more than that at restaurants of a similar level.

Granted LA can’t compete with some of the other cities when it comes to fine dining. If you’re looking for a three-star experience with all the bells and whistles, you probably are better off at one of the famous restaurants in New York, Chicago or even Las Vegas. LA admittedly doesn’t have the same sophistication when it comes to both food and service at the very high-end. But, Monsieur Naret, that does not mean the people of LA aren’t real foodies.

Allumette-saladYOUNG CHEFS
There are chefs like Josef Centeno of Bäco Mercat or Miles Thompson of Allumette, who’ve done their time training with the big guns across the country and have come to LA to open small restaurants, where they show off their culinary skills by celebrating local produce without chasing Michelin stars.

Moreover, at the low-end LA offers an ethnic restaurant community that can compete with any other metropolis in the world. And I’m not just talking about taco trucks here. There are flourishing Thai, Korean, Japanese, Indian and Chinese communities as well as a large Hispanic population, whose restaurants serve delicious and authentic food you’d be hard-pressed to find anywhere else.

There are food festivals, events, underground supper clubs, pop-up restaurants, special guest-chef dinners and promotions happening in LA every week. These events are consistently busy, proving that the people of LA aren’t just real foodies, they also take an active interest in their city’s food community.

After seven weeks in this massive city, I’ve only scratched the surface of what is has to offer but I’m honestly excited to keep discovering LA’s foodie gems. Over the next little while, I’ll share my findings so far. Keep reading!

Gordon Ramsay loses Michelin stars in New York as 2014 guide is unveiled

Gordon-RamsayCelebrity chef Gordon Ramsay has lost his coveted two Michelin stars in Manhattan as the French restaurant guide has revealed its 2014 listings for New York City.

The foul-mouthed British chef has lost the two stars at his eponymous restaurant at the London Hotel in Midtown, which it held for five years, since 2008. The move follows rumours that the restaurant is set to close. Former two-star restaurant Picholine also got erased after losing its star.

Meanwhile Jung Sik in TriBeCa had reasons to celebrate after becoming the only Korean restaurant in the world to hold two Michelin stars. It was also the only restaurant promoted to two-star-status in New York this year, meaning there are now five two-star restaurants in the city.

1375699_10151874312108605_682881408_nThere was also no change at the top in the Big Apple, with Le Bernardin, the Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare, Daniel, Eleven Madison Park, Jean Georges, Masa, and Per Se all retaining Michelin’s highest ranking of three stars.

Mario Batali’s Babbo in Greenwich Village has regained its star after it lost it in 2010, while eight restaurants celebrated winning a Michelin star for the first time. These are: Aska, Caviar Russe, Carbone, Ichimura at Brushstroke, Lincoln, The Musket Room, Le Restaurant and Telepan.

The full list of Michelin-starred restaurants in New York City:

Three Stars:
Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare
Eleven Madison Park
Jean Georges
Le Bernardin
Per Se

Two Stars:
Jungsik (NEW)
Momofuku Ko

One Star:
Ai Fiori
Aska (NEW)
A Voce Columbus
A Voce Madison
Babbo (NEW)
Blue Hill
The Breslin
Café Boulud
Café China
Carbone (NEW)
Casa Mono
Caviar Russe (NEW)
Danny Brown Wine Bar & Kitchen
Del Posto
15 East
Gotham Bar and Grill
Gramercy Tavern
Ichimura at Brushstroke (NEW)
Jewel Bako
Kyo Ya
Lan Sheng
Le Restaurant (NEW)
Lincoln (NEW)
Minetta Tavern
The Modern
The Musket Room (NEW)
Peter Luger
Rouge Tomate
Spotted Pig
Sushi Azabu
Sushi of Gari
Tamarind Tribeca
Telepan (NEW)
Tori Shin
Torrisi Italian Specialties