Thomas Keller apologises after Per Se disappoints New York Times food critic

12621998_975256932557275_8230811442901115718_oThomas Keller has today issued an apology for failing to meet the high standards he and his team are committed to providing to their guests at his New York restaurant Per Se.

The apology comes after New York Times food critic Pete Wells panned the three-Michelin-starred restaurant in a review earlier this month, awarding Per Se just two out of five stars.

In some of his most acerbic comments Wells declared Per Se’s tasting menu “among the worst food deals in New York”; compared a mushroom broth to “bong water”; called overcooked lobster “gristle of the sea”; and pronounced the waiting staff as “oddly unaccommodating”.

Here’s Keller’s response:

To our Guests:

At all of our restaurants, in our kitchens and dining rooms, we make every effort to provide you with the best possible experience. We consider it our professional responsibility to ensure that every one of you feels special and cared for. To us, it is imperative that we improve and evolve every day. We constantly examine ourselves, our menu, our service and our standards.

Regretfully, there are times when we do not meet those standards. The fact that The New York Times restaurant critic Pete Wells’ dining experiences at Per Se did not live up to his expectations and to ours is greatly disappointing to me and to my team. We pride ourselves on maintaining the highest standards, but we make mistakes along the way. We are sorry we let you down.

We are not content resting on what we did yesterday. We believe we can do better for ourselves, our profession and most importantly our guests. We have the opportunity, the tools, the self-motivation and the dedication to do so.

When we fall short, we work even harder. We are confident that the next time you visit Per Se or any of our other restaurants, our team will deliver a most memorable experience.

— Thomas Keller, Chef / Proprietor

Charlie Trotter: the food world pays tribute to a culinary icon

Charlie TrotterTributes have flooded in from across the food world following the shocking death of iconic Chicago chef Charlie Trotter.

The 54-year-old chef was found unconscious and not breathing in his home yesterday morning (5 November) and was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The exact cause of his death has not yet been established.

In a statement, his wife Rochelle Trotter said: “We are incredibly shocked and deeply saddened by the unexpected loss of Charlie at our home in Lincoln Park. He was much loved, and words can not describe how much he will be missed.

“Charlie was a trailblazer and introduced people to a new way of dining when he opened Charlie Trotter’s.  His impact upon American cuisine and the culinary world at large will always be remembered.”

Fellow US chefs and restaurateurs have taken to social media website Twitter to express their shock and sadness at Trotter’s sudden passing.

Thomas Keller of the French Laundry and Per Se said: “Charlie Trotter was a visionary; one who exemplified what a young American chef could do to influence a generation. He’ll be greatly missed.”

Grant Aschatz’s three-Michelin-starred Chicago restaurant Alinea posted: “The staff and ownership of Alinea offer their condolences to chef Trotter’s family and friends. His impact on Chicago dining will long be remembered.”

French chef Daniel Boulud tweeted: “Very sad day in the chef community #charlietrotter influence on young American chef was tremendous and inspiring. He will be missed greatly.”

Celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain wrote: “Rest In Peace Charlie Trotter. A giant. A legend. Treated shabbily by a world he helped create. My thoughts go out to those who loved him.”

Danny Meyer said Trotter’s death was a “towering loss” while fellow New York restaurateur Mario Batali posted: “Holy sadness, my dear pal and comrade @charlietrotter has died. May he RIP , he will be sorely missed. #shocked”

Alice Waters, chef, author and the proprietor of Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California, tweeted: “Just heard the tragic news of Charlie Trotter’s passing. The food world has lost someone truly special.”

Jean-Georges Vongerichten wrote: “So sad ! lost a great friend and an inspiration for the Art of Cooking . Chef Charlie Trotter , condolences to the family.”

Spanish chef José Andrés said: “#CharlieTrotter lets celebrate his amazing contribution to America and the world. He was a genuine person. Today heaven will eat better….”

Across the pond in the UK, chefs also paid tributes to Trotter.

Ashley Palmer-Watts, executive chef of the two-Michelin-starred Dinner by Heston Blumenthal in London, tweeted: “Rest in peace Charlie Trotter, you’ll be greatly missed in our world and thank you for your inspiration.”

Saturday Kitchen presenter, chef and restaurateur James Martin wrote: “Legend is often over used but just heard the sad news and loss of Charlie Trotter a true inspiration to many thoughts go to his family RIP.”

Jamie Oliver said on his Twitter account: “Sadly today American Culinary Legend Charlie Trotter died aged 54…I had the pleasure to eat his food…”

Andrew Fairlie, Scotland’s only two-Michelin-starred chef, wrote: “Too young, too sad.”

And Indian chef Atul Kochhar of the Michelin-starred Benares in London tweeted: “Its a big loss for Chefs world to loose a hero like Chef Trotter – we will miss him.”

charlie_trotterCharlie Trotter was the chef-owner of his eponymous restaurant in Chicago, which he closed last year after 25 years. The restaurant was world-famous for its innovative approach to American cuisine and set a standard for chefs in the USA and beyond.

Charlie Trotter’s was the first restaurant in the USA to introduce a chef’s table in the kitchen and offer wine pairings for its menu. He was the first chef to open a fine dining restaurant in Las Vegas: Charlie in the Palazzo, which gained a Michelin star in 2008 but was forced to close two years later due to the recession.

Trotter won 10 James Beard awards and trained some of the USA’s most acclaimed chefs, including three-Michelin-starred chef Grant Achatz of Chicago restaurants Alinea and Next. His restaurant won two stars in the inaugural Michelin Guide to Chicago in 2011 and in 2002 placed 11th in the S. Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. He wrote 14 cook books, a television series and three books that translated his philosophies of excellence into business-world instructionals.

When Trotter closed his restaurant in August last year, he announced plans to travel the world and return to college to study philosophy. The day before Charlie Trotter’s shut, Chicago city unveiled the “Honorary Charlie Trotter Way” in his honour.

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