Today’s Food Newsbits: Former Chef Chimes In On Ramsay; Waters Continues To Inspire Despite Criticism


Crown Metropol Opening PartyOf all the European chefs I try to cover here on Daily Blender, Gordon Ramsay always seems to be the one getting the most airtime. Whether it’s insulting a reporter or closing a restaurant, Ramsay nearly appears to be the Todd English of the British food world.

London writer Rosie Birkett recently had a chat with Ramsay’s former protégé, chef Marcus Wareing. Wareing, a previous chef at Ramsay’s Petrus where he earned two Michelin stars during his ten-year tenure, chimes in on Ramsay’s reinvention of the restaurant, referring to the new incarnation as “beige”. He also comments on the poor timing of the opening, with renowned chefs Daniel Boulud and Heston Blumenthal also unveiling new U.K. locations this year as well.

“I think what’s going to happen in an environment when you’ve got Daniel who’s just opened and Heston at the Mandarin and Koffmann who’s opening in six weeks, is that they’re going to eclipse any other small eatery in the area because they’re going to offer so much more. There’s going to be pressure, and we’re all going to be edging for the same clients, but I’m excited about it – pressure’s good and competition is healthy – and only the fittest will survive.”

You can read the rest of the article here. Unsurprisingly, the New York Post‘s Page Six, though always taken with a grain of salt, noted this week that Ramsay continues with his U.S. restaurant struggles as well.

Love her, or refer to her as the Khmer Rouge, chef Alice Waters has been leading the organic food movement for nearly forty years. Waters is well-known for bringing her sustainable ideals to local schools, pioneering healthy lunch programs for the Berkeley School District in 1996. According to a recent article in the San Francisco Chronicle, her mission continues, with Waters supporters like First Lady Michelle Obama and former president Bill Clinton getting involved in bringing the organic, sustainable lunch movement to schools across the nation with an overhaul of the USDA’s National School Lunch Program.

“Alice and people like her, along with my own weight and heart problems, inspired me to take on the issue of childhood obesity,” Clinton wrote in an e-mail. The former president says he met Waters while dining at her restaurant Chez Panisse – where the activist supposedly tried to talk him out of blueberry ice cream in favor of a “perfect” peach – and has read her books.

Though Alice still has her critics, her former Berkeley chef, Ann Cooper, says the haters won’t deter the chef from her lunch program goals.

“When her effort to launch organic lunches at Berkeley High School didn’t work, it made the New York Times in a particularly ugly, nasty way,” she remembers. “Then there was the Atlantic piece that criticized her Berkeley program. People just seem to like to pick on her. Maybe it’s because they perceive her as just a little too precious. But in the face of intense adversity she’s been unwavering.”

Stay tuned to Daily Blender this week for notes and pics from my trip to the New World Wine & Food Festival this past weekend, including a chat with chef Steven McHugh on the opening of chef John Besh’s new Lüke San Antonio location. Next week – an exclusive Q&A with chef, and recent Top Chef Masters contestant, Jody Adams!

~Jennifer Heigl