Union Square: The inaugural edition of SF Chefs. Food. Wine. is officially in the books. San Francisco had its weekend in the sun, chefs awkwardly danced, the lovely Drew Nieporent wore a suit, Gav went sans security, and even Meadowood star Christopher Kostow made the trip south to man a booth. All in all, the weekend should definitely be deemed a success, and hopefully, good harbinger of things to come in the future. Congrats to all involved. A handful of candid shots—with commentary—are above, and here are a few more thoughts:
1) So, about these local "anonymous" critics of San Francisco. The Chron's Amanda Gold moderated the most popular, high-profile panel of the weekend (quite well, too) and MB made an appearance or two in the tents, but the real show this weekend was the Examiner's venerable Patricia Unterman. The Unterminator participated in the Culinary Matriarchs panel, voiced her hatred of the French Laundry, and to top it off, held a book signing. Which is totally, absolutely fine; she's earned the right. But obviously, she's not concerned about being anonymous to restaurateurs, so is that particular charade really necessary?
1.5) Sidenote: SF Mag's Josh Sens participated in the "View on Reviews" panel ... via speakerphone. Also, the Washington Post's Tom Sietsema was allegedly in disguise.
2) Next year, if some chefs could maybe serve sliders or gazpacho, that'd be great.
3) Some restaurant stats from the first quarter. According to Charles Phan, first quarter sales were down at the Slanted Door for the first time in 14 years (-4%). With the addition of 40 outdoor seats and other factors, the second quarter is looking a lot better. Meanwhile, in Yountville, Bouchon had itself the best first quarter "in years."
4) To prospective restaurateurs: Thomas Keller went on record as saying that this is the ideal time to open a fine dining destination.
Time for some memorable quotes from the weekend:
5) "Was he using his normal voice or his fake Martin Yan voice?"—Michael Chiarello, upon learning that Martin Yan (Yan Can Cook) was spotted earlier.
6) "What is Yelp? No, I'm sorry, I really don't know." —Thomas Keller
7) "Non-anonymous reviewers are fine, but they should be straightforward and upfront if they're not anonymous." —Josh Sens
8) "Now that I see the show, I'm so glad I didn't do it." —Douglas Keane, on making the heart-wrenching decision to turn down Top Chef Masters, right when the economy was tanking.
9) "Someday I'll do a fine dining place." —Charles Phan
10) "We didn't know we were matriarchs already; we thought we were still middle-aged." —Nancy Oakes, during the Culinary Matriarchs seminar, alongside Patty Unterman, Cindy Pawlcyn and Annie Somerville.
11) "I'm not allowed to read Yelp anymore."—Nancy Oakes
12) "Don't be picky! It's free!" —Chef that will remain nameless, yelling at prospective diners.
And some further reading:
· SF Chefs Recap: The Phenomenon That Is Hubert Keller [~ESF~]
· Hangover Observations: Opening Night at SF Chefs [~ESF~]
· More Scenes From a Day in the Tent [Bunrab]
· Glitz, Glamour, and the Girl Fight That Almost Was [SFW]
· Ryan Scott and Jen Biesty Ham It Up For the Camera [KQED]
· Q&A With That 1,000-Pound Bread Sculpture [Examiner]