Locally Grown


Breaking News: Judged Worthy By Food Critics.

well, AMAZING TENS, it’s been a good long while since we have shared screen to screen moments.  When our eyes meet over the same words at different times…it’s like a deliciously delayed serendipity.

A lot has happened in the cook’s life over the last tens of months, I worked my buns off at cooking instead of making up words and ended up opening my own restaurant in the lovely East Village of the most amazing town west of the Mississippi and east of the Missouri, Des Moines.  Things are going swimingly so far (we are only just over a month in), and we have received our first few PRINT REVIEWS FROM FOOD CRITICS.  This is a moment I have been pretty nervous for, as some of you know I have been less than forgiving towards the writers of food article type things.  I sat in anticipation, knowing that my restaurant is doing things NEARLY up to my standards (if you are doing things right as a chef/owner/kitchen cat herder the nothing is going to be up to your standard…because of obsessing and raising the mental bar every day.), and also knowing that I have potentially upset a number of people who would be finally maybe writing/judging my true body of word, Tacopocalypse.  Turns out, either I am a little paranoid about the whole food reviewer thing (duh), or my crew is really doing the job that I am perceiving that they do.  Probably both.  All reviews have been very kind and positive at this point.  Thank you, we have truly worked hard to make sure that the dining experience is top notch for every person walking in the front door.  I know it’s all about personal perception, and the persons perceiving so far have been very happy.  Thank you, again.

Here’s the thing about personal perception: It’s personal.  Every single individual sees similar situations in slightly (or wildly) different ways.  Creating an experience that keeps a majority of the poplulace is a challenge because of this.  What keeps one happy can ultimately infuriate the next.  It’s some really frustrating shit, the kind of frustrating shit that birthed that keeps restaurant folk on their toes and continually aging faster than the rest of the populace, the kind of frustrating shit that caused this blog.  It’s the kind of shit, that if you encounter it for a long enough period of time, you might start finding the humor rather than the stomach grinding pain of it all.

Thank you to all who have visited my new restaurant and have elevated it to a level of medium-ish success with your shining faces, and especially to you critics…I hope that you come back and continue your positive personal perception of what we here are doing.

You know what, I might just start writing this blog again.  It feels good.  Just hope it doesn’t get me into any trouble…hahaha.

 

The Cook



LG Two Cents On Two For $20

Hello, Tens.  I have once again made a small clearing in the haystack of my precious-esque time to bring you a little gripe regarding a poorly performed food review job-type-thing.  It has been a while since I have had a complaint about food writing that I deemed worth the energy to spout forth towards your internerd browsing ocular apparati, a fact to be taken not-so-lightly when the news about to be broken to you is finally broken to you in the next paragraph, just after this upcoming title thing. I present to you:

The Great Datebook 2 For $20 Debacle Of Ought 11

Let me re-start by saying that the staff of the Des Moines Register (save for the Illustrious Datebook Diner, who is most likely too busy planning her cooking-book promotional tour of the Greater DMZ this fall to stop by the Farmers’ Market and visit my booth) and DSM Register published Juice magazine have been more than amazing to me during the last few weeks of my fledgling foray into chef/ownership.  Thank you to all who have become friends and regular stoppers-by.  This debacle has nothing to do with you.  Unless one of you happens to be Trevor Fisher.  If one of you happens to be TF, please accept my light backhand slap to your face for your writing infractions and continue on with your taco liking.

(Finally) The story: This past Friday I was enjoying a sub-standard breakfast during the course of an unplanned “ride of shame” brought on by hanging out with a very good chef-friend until the wee hours, when I spotted the day-old-doughnut Datebook in the newspaper rack at the never-to-be-named restaurant of choice.  It has been a number of weeks since I have peeled apart the pages of DSM’s # 1,2,or3 weekly events magazine, so I said “What the heck.”

I opened up directly to an article written by TF (who I don’t know or recognize, is this guy a regular contributor?) entitled “Two for $20” which is meant to outline a good place to get lunch/dinner/a meal for two human adults for around the $20 price point. TF chose/had chosen for him the task of reviewing American/Bosnian cafe Kula Grill.  Here is a link to the original article, in case you are into that sort of stuff.

TF opens up with the standard review fare, and the writing is solid (no Matt Miller-isms here), then we get to the food.  Now, before we go forward let me axe you a question.  If you were going to review food from a cuisine of which you had no knowledge whatsoever, in the Year Of Our Gourd 2011, the age of Interdork Information Searches, for an ACTUAL PRINTED PUBLICATION WITH A SERIOUS DISTRIBUTION, would you not at least do some research as to what the basics of said cuisine entail so as not to be the one bringing the pointed stick to the gun fight?  Not TF.  TF don’t need no posse of information, as shown by this excerpt from said infractuous artice:

Possessing no knowledge of, or experience with Bosnian food, we deferred to the waiter, who suggested the goulash if we craved genuine homestyle Bosnian. When in Sarajevo, right?

Un-f’ing-believable.  This is just stupid. But it doesn’t even scratch the surface of what comes next, which is the description of Kula Grill’s goulash:

The first thing you notice about Kula’s goulash — mashed potatoes and hunks of beef smothered in a thick gravy — is it resembles prison-cafeteria slop.

What?  Seriously?  This is printed in our #1 newspaper?  NOBODY along the chain of writer-to-printer read this and found anything wrong?  Nobody said “um…why does TF know what prison cafeteria slop looks like, and why is he invoking its visual vehemence in the confines of a restaurant review?”  Maybe the summary line softened the blow?

Sounds gross, looks worse, tastes great.

Clearly, TF should forego the attempts and restaurant reviews and slip directly into a comfortable marketing executive position.

Bosnian Goulash at Kula Grill: Sounds gross, looks worse, tastes great. (photo by actually awesome photo editor Eric Rowley)

The rest of the review is of equal tragedy to both the restaurant and to the credibility of TF’s writing career.  If you haven’t read it, check it out for yourself.

As a restaurant professional, if I were to read a review of this caliber in a print publication of the food I was serving to the public, I would probably

A.  Call my lawyer to ask for legal advice

B. Call the editor of the register and lodge a formal complaint, and request the reviewer be tossed from the nearest window accessible from his/her cubicle.

C. In the words of N.W.A., Start some shit.

I can not believe this review  written by someone who possesses even less candor and skill than even the most amateur of amateur food blogists was allowed to be printed in an actual paper.  I would expect those words from maybe a cast member of Jersey Shore.

Kitteh Want To Smush-smush! (I was going to post a picture of the JS cast with a funny line, but realized that nothing in the world makes JS funny or worth promoting. They are kind of like Prison Slop)

 

Trevor Fisher, you have just landed yourself an award from Locally Grown.  I just can’t remember what we used to call it.

The Cook



Locally Grown Monday News

I forgot to start the dryer last night.

As I sit waiting for my panticular clothing items to dry before heading out into the wild gray abyss that is our dreary little Monday, a few non-pants-related thoughts come to mind.  How is our food scene doing, DMZ?  I see some of our local food-blog types have stepped up their dining-opinion-spouting, most likely due to a constant cropping up of new or redesignated restaurants (thus is the circle of restaurant life, eating establishments begin anew only to be barnacled by the words of reviewers, or their own service/food ball dropping, business slows, and some other restaurateur purchases the failed business only to start the whole process over again). I still stand by my opinion that amateur restaurant reviewists, whether by Yelp or by Blog, are exactly what the name states, amateurs.  But some are slowwwwwly starting to get it.  And by slow, I mean evolution of the cosmos slow.  Oops!  Did I just say evolution?  Better watch it before I start getting attacked for violating the Separation of Church and Steak laws.

ooh.  that joke was almost as painful as reading some bush league foodie rantings.  On with the news.

-Chef Hal Jasa of Zingaro has stayed true to the “Gypsy” theme of his Pop-Up dining experience’s name (thanks to the Our Fair City’s City Officials) and has changed locations, taking up home inside of the Kirkwood Lounge (400 Walnut Street) (formerly Azalea).  Hal is using their abundance of kitchen space and mezzanine seating to offer his constantly changing menu to a select few who are able to snatch up reservations.

-You have probably already heard about this, but I am pretty excited for you to hear about it again. Chef George Formaro’s Zombie Burger will be opening in the near future (possibly August) at the e300 building in the East Village.  What the heck is a Zombie Burger?  Read about it here. 

-A new daily deal web site launches today, DSM Daily. DSM Daily offers an email based discount and incentive system to encourage you, the consumer, to frequent businesses but UNLIKE the established daily discount sites, DSMD is locally owned and features only locally owned businesses.  Their focus is keeping local dollars local and introducing people to businesses that would otherwise stay under the radar due to lack of “big marketing” dollars employed by national chains.  Their launch party is tonight at the Bombay Bicycle Club.  I encourage you to sign up and support this local business which supports local business.

Well, the pants-are-dry buzzer just went off, which means our news session is over for todah. today.  Remember to keep things really real you have to really keep things local.

We Love you, Des Moines!  Good Night!

The Cook



Food Criticism: It’s Not Horseplay

It’s refreshing to see that so many of you have such strong opinions regarding the desired credentials of the people who have been charged with the task of influencing your opinion with their…opinion.
Some of you have tried making a distinction between Food Writers, Food Critics, Restaurant Critics, Restaurant Reviewers, Entertainment Writers, and Yelpers, BUT you can toss around words like Foal, Mare, Colt, Filly, or Stallion, but a horse is still a horse.  If you choose to review food or a restaurant (professionally or on a user-reviewed site like Yelp), you are really trying to throw yourself into the same stable as the rest of the neighing nay-sayers.  This is one of the reasons I don’t “review” restaurants here, and if you took a look at the first Locally Grown post which i re-posted last week, you would maybe understand where I am coming from.

Do we need restaurant reviewists?  We do. Do we need sweeping food review reform? Probably not.  Unlike the policies force-fed to us by our elected officials, the word of a reviewer can and should be taken with a little subjectivity.  Ok, maybe my coffee intake has overtaken my ability to turn a sensible sentence.

We DO need people who are willing to venture out to new dining spots and share the story of their experience with others who may not be able to get out as often to try new spots, or may not have the financial or time resources to spare on an unknown venture.  There is nothing wrong with being careful with your wallet/purse or your tastebuds, and you careful diners have to be thankful for those who would help you avoid making a dining experience into your own personal tar baby.

Reviews can help you ensure your next dining experience doesn't end up like this.

In this case a review can be a valuable asset.  BUT the problem is trust.  Should you trust a particular reviewer or publication?  Should you put the fate of your hard earned money and free time in the hands of a stranger?  Have you ever been disappointed by a restaurant after reading a glowing review?  I have.  Hell, I have even gone to work at a particular kitchen because of its popularity within the reviewer crowd only to be fully let down.

What does all of this gibberish mean?  (it’s funny, you would think that stepping away from the bottle for a length of time would make for more coherent posts) I will try to sum this up one more time:

LG Tips For Successful Ventures Into Unknown Dining

  • Friends – First and foremost you should have, or find, a friend or colleague whom has similar taste as you, and has an adventurous spirit which propels them into the dining world.
  • Social Media – Use social media such as Facebook and Twitter to your advantage.  You can begin networking with like-minded diners from your area and find some hidden gems that would have otherwise escaped your grasp.
  • User Review Sites – Yes, read reviews on popular web search sites in addition to user-reviewer sites such as Yelp and the like.  Yes, I warn you about trusting these sites…but not all of the reviews are from deck stacking restaurant staff or disgruntled diners/former employees.  With a little reading and research you can find some trustworthy folks.  Right, Jordan?
  • The Print Press – The Physically Printed On Paper crew are a good resource for finding newly opened or soon-to-open spots.  Your local newspaper (sometimes) has an entertainment staff with ears to the ground listening for the faint footsteps of an approaching restaurant opening.  You can also get a valuable history lesson on the dining scene from people who have been dining…professionally…for a number of years. You can also be misled by someone with years of “beef” built up with the local Restaurateurs and Chefs.  Approach the words of the “pro” with the same caution you would use as the “Yelper.”
  • Food Bloggers – Local food bloggers are a valuable resource.  These people have invested the time and money in their own web presence and generally take their writing serious.  This is another avenue which you have to explore carefully, read their blogs and get to know their taste.  If they have written about a restaurant you frequented, compare your experience with theirs.  If there are discrepancies contact the blogger and open a discussion.  Most bloggers are more than helpful when it comes to explaining what they have written about.
  • Insiders – Do you know someone on the “inside?”  Shirley Surely you know someone who works in a restaurant (this seems elementary to me as all of my friends know someone who works in a restaurant).  This doesn’t really pertain to chains, those folks IMO and experience know nothing about the local dining scene.  I am talking about insiders who work at places like Django, Alba, Centro, 801, and the like.  These folks usually have worked at a few of the local spots and know the food and service provided.  Pick their brains, even when dining at their restaurants. I know this sounds a little tacky, but I am sure anyone reading this has the ability to wind a yarn around the situation.

The message here is such:  You have to do some research, spend a little time poking around.  Your money and time is valuable, and Our Fair City has an almost inordinate amount of restaurants vying for your financial attention.  Don’t trust just one source, there is no “Food Guru” (although one guy tried convincing you of this) which can espouse every bit of knowledge you need to make a decision.  Don’t trust a “star” system, trust your own taste and ingenuity.

My last bit of advice is DON’T TRUST ANONYMOUS INTERWEB REVIEWERS.  If you don’t have the cajones to attach your real identity to your opinion, it must not matter that much to you.  These people are what I often like to refer to as “Culinary Cowards” (not to be confused with Culinary Cow) are often just talking a bunch of crap.  Go back to AOL chat rooms with your BS, CC.  We don’t need you here.

Culinary Cow Sez: Trust your tastebuds, but keep them away from ME!

Now get out there and eat (Local)!

The Cook.

P.S. feel free to ask me for dining ideas (FB Sam Auen, Twitter @VegChefDSM, Email locallygrowndsm@gmail.com).  I HAVE most of the information you need at my disposal



Ejection Ressurection/Diner Down!

OH, I love it when restaurateurs take their fate into their own hands!  They might be undermining themselves, they may be poising themselves for a “Person Of The Year” award from local diners, or they might just be kicking out another paying customer.  Such is life, when making decisions regarding your own fate compounded with the inclusion of another person/group of people you can only predict the outcome to so many decimals.  That is what makes life interesting, and in this case:

RESTAURANT LIFE

In this episode of Restaurant Life we encounter an uh…encounter betwixt a Restaurant Owner and a Restaurant Critic who are at odds as to whether said Critic should be seated.  This scenario may sound VERY familiar to you tens of readers who experienced “Wini-Gate” in all of its Meh-ness.

Here is the tale as told by the New York Times:

December 22, 2010, 6:04 pm

<!– — Updated: 6:29 pm –>

Restaurateur Ejects Los Angeles Times Critic

By PETE WELLS

If you are an owner of a restaurant that keeps a critic waiting for a table, you could spend the rest of the night trying to make it all better. Or you could just throw the critic out on the street.

Noah Ellis chose the second route when the Los Angeles Times critic S. Irene Virbila came into Red Medicine last night. Mr. Ellis recounted the episode on the restaurant’s Tumblr, and posted a photo of Ms. Virbila that he snapped just before expelling her. Here’s how he explained making that call:

Our purpose for posting this is so that all restaurants can have a picture of her and make a decision as to whether or not they would like to serve her. We find that some of her reviews can be unnecessarily cruel and irrational, and that they have caused hard-working people in this industry to lose their jobs — we don’t feel that they should be blind-sided by someone with no understanding of what it takes to run or work in a restaurant.

Ms. Virbila told Daily Dish, her paper’s food blog, that she and her party had been waiting 45 minutes past their reservation time when Mr. Ellis walked up, carrying a camera. Her editor, Russ Parsons, told Daily Dish that Ms. Virbila was unsettled by the encounter and by having her picture taken without her permission. Most of all, he said, “She was upset because she has worked extremely hard for more than 15 years to maintain her anonymity in the L.A. restaurant scene.”

He also told Daily Dish that the Times will continue with its plans to review Red Medicine. The blog did not state whether he intends to have the review carried out by Ms. Virbila or by another critic.

6:25 p.m. | Updated In a phone interview with Glenn Collins, Mr. Parsons said that Ms. Virbila preferred not to speak about the incident. “She would rather let her writing speak for itself,” she said.

He confirmed that the paper intends to have the restaurant reviewed, either by Ms. Virbila or by another staffer. “We may dress her up in a clown uniform,” he said with a laugh, “or enlist one of Ruth Reichl’s makeup artists.”

 

This is the part I have found to be the most profound, and is almost the thesis statement on which this blog was founded on one year ago:

“We find that some of her reviews can be unnecessarily cruel and irrational, and that they have caused hard-working people in this industry to lose their jobs — we don’t feel that they should be blind-sided by someone with no understanding of what it takes to run or work in a restaurant.”
Sounds VERY familiar…maybe we need an United Anti-Critic Revolution.  Maybe we just need to laugh.  I guess that goes back to the original statement about choices.
The Cook.
ps: If you find it hard to separate the Times words from Mine, my worpress block quote thingy won’t work.  I am growing tired of all the wordpress glitches and may be switching over to SquareSpace.  Or something. maybe I will just quit.

 

 



Yet Another Manic Monday

Here it is, the day that is celebrated around the world as being the one day of the week to not celebrate.  What used to happen around these parts when the Un-celebrate-able showed up on our doorstep in that cute little basket with a note stating that it is our duty to tend to Little Orphan Monday, was a report on the news.  I think it is about time we continue that tradition by talking a little about an upcoming tradition, and some presently-forming traditions, and a little smidge of news.

“Here are some blankets for those Turkeys, mister Native person. They look awfully cold.”

Now, I don’t know what “historical” account of what went down between the Natives of what came to be North America and their pasty white devil guests you believe, and I don’t really know what to believe either as the IRS wasn’t around to require the “pilgrims” keep track of their receipts and Facebook wasn’t around to record the status updates of all parties involved.  I am also not entirely sure what significance the Turkey had on the original ‘Uh…Thanks for Giving us this Stuff” meal, but I would bet all the buckled shoes and goofy hats in all of history that none of what we have been taught is historically factual/accurate.  Since everyone has their own version of this lovely holiday story, I thought I would relay to you, the Faithful Tens, an abridged version of MY favorite story of Thanksgiving and the significance of the Turkey in all of this history stuff, as told to me by a very intoxicated friend who we will refer to as uh, Burt.

Burt wasn’t there for the first, as he calls it, “Turkey Holocaust Day,” but he thinks that the Wild Turkey he has been imbibing has given him some historical insight that those of us not holding the Shot Glass of Knowledge just wouldn’t get.  Here is Burt’s story:

Some a-holes from Europe decided to float their boats toward China but the dumbasses didn’t know that America was in the way.  A lot of people say that they left Spain or England or whatever so they could practice their religion, but that’s a load of crap.  Who loads up a bunch of boats and people for a million mile trip when they could just move to France, where nobody gives a shit about anything but butter and cream anyway.  I say they were just bored rich people like those teenagers who decided that they would try to sail around the world until their parents were like “oh no you aint” and the courts agreed and there were a few failures.  It’s amazing what bored rich people are capable of.  So they got in their fancy boats and went for a trip.  They landed here, and met some Indians who were like “oh, these guys don’t have cool red beards and fancy animals carved on their boats [I think he is talking about the Vikings at this point], they look awfully uptight and probably need to chill out” so these Indians, you see, have the peace pipe and they offer it to the Pilgrims and they smoked.  The pilgrims, used to “snuff” and uppers got really high and paranoid.  They asked if the Indians had any snacks, and were like “hey, you don’t look like yer from China.”  The Indians brought the Pilgrims some potatoes and berries and gave them directions to their “guy” in case they needed the hook up later.  The Indians went about their business, but the Pilgrims were high, paranoid, and freaking out.  So they gave them Smallpox.  Not a very cool trade if  you ask me…hey, can I get another shot? So anyway, the Pilgrims start taking out these Indians like they were all gangsta.  They were doing some real damage, then decided to take over the whole country.  Most of the Indians moved away from the East Coast because the hostile ass Pilgrims were always acting up, this is also why the East Coast is so much more hard core than the West Coast.  It was the pilgrims, man!  The Pilgrims then started killing turkeys.  The TURKEYS are a symbol of the Indian.  That’s why we can’t eat the Turkey man, it’s totally racist.  We should only DRINK the turkey. Then the Pilgrims got into a big war with the French over some shit that wasn’t theirs in the first place, totally a white man thing to do, and shit they should have just moved to France to begin with and taken over France.  Then maybe Paris would be New York City and America would be safer.

Thank you, Burt, for your amazing telling of the first Thanksgiving.  I feel as though we all should have been wearing buckles on our shoes and hats for that one.  Burt may be full of crap and Wild Turkey (I honestly thought he would pass out right after that last shot, before the France Rant), but his version brings up some very good points.

  1. America is not China.  Fact.
  2. History, no matter how factual, is still very subjective.
  3. Turkey probably wasn’t served at the first “Thanksgiving”
  4. There was a land dispute between the colonies and the French.
  5. Bored Rich people can come up with some stupid things to do with their money.
  6. The Native Americans gave the Pilgrims food that they had gathered LOCALLY.

That’s right, no matter what the real story surrounding this Novemberly holiday encompasses, the real reason to celebrate is this

The Natives of our continent ate locally, as we should.

That’s right, everyone.  Whether you rock the turkey or the tofurkey, this year make it a point to give thanks for the real bounty produced by your local farmers and livestockists.  Am I going to give you all the resources to contact the sources for this Locs-Giving feast?  No, as a local news person has been working on an article about said subject and I am pretty sure all of you are going to read said juicy article when it drops in your local orange colored news stands.  I think she has a good start and look forward to seeing what she has to say.  Seriously.

On to the News…

Taco Bike, oh Taco bike.  Two weeks ago the Des Moines City Council passed a new set of rules for food carts.  New rules state that food cart vendors can not operate between the hours of 1:30 am and 5:30 am due to drunk people.  The DMPD claims that the one or two food carts that set up in the 4th and Court district are causing drunks to fight, and that it is too much of a strain on the city to police these trouble-makers.  Ok. The food carts serve food, not alcohol.  The food carts do their business serving drunks like anyone else, but BETTER because they are on the street and can see/look out for people who are passing by or eating.  They have more control over their crowds and have more of a reason to control what is going on with the drunks in front of their stands than the other store front businesses in the area. The Food Carts do not manufacture drunks, the bars do.  Food carts don’t make a society full of pushy, macho assholes, society does.  Food Carts don’t cause traffic congestion, especially on 4th street where traffic is pretty minimal, drunks stopping in the middle of the street to “holla at their bros” do.  Food Carts don’t cause more Police off-duty overtime, drunks do.  Food Carts aren’t the only reason people have to interact socially outside of store-front businesses, the smoking ban causes quite a bit of sidewalk run ins with drunks and aggro homeless peoples.  This all reeks of some business owner (I suspect the initials TF are involved) getting upset and claiming that the food carts are “stealing their business,” (a similar cry that caused the stunting of our Food Truck revolution) then the Powers That Be make up a story that is full of speculation and about as air tight as my buddy Burt’s account of Thanksgiving’s historical roots, causing a quiet vote and rule change.  Or maybe I am just paranoid as a Pilgrim…  At any rate, you can read about it here at the Des Moines Register site and here at Eater PDX (thank you, DMZ City Council for causing Portland to say it “Sucks To Be You, Des Moines”).  You can also watch a spot on the subject tonight on WHO TV in Des Moines at 5 p.m.  It may be time to start taking some action/writing letters.

The Downtown Farmer’s Market is over, aside for two winter markets.

Trader Joe’s is open and is potentially adding to a tradition here in our city, driving small natural food stores out of business.  Don’t forget the little guys.

That’s about it for the news.  Stay tuned for my upcoming Vegan’s guide to getting harassed at the Thanksgiving Dinner Table.

 

The Cook

 



Hooooly Chow! A Hairy Carry!

Yesterday LG covered the aftermath of what is currently Our Fair City’s “Defining Moment of International Culinary Capacity,” the Adam Emmenecker Sandwich challenge as sort-of-tackled by Travel Channel star and Slop Jockey Adam Richman.  In the end what/who tackled what/who was lost in the fray of yet another ploy to illicit the help of the city’s “Food Press” to further the global acknowledgement of our locavore-istas and the chef-driven local food scene here in Iowa.  We heard from the Food Dude (via my facebook account, you can “friend me” there for more musings.)  regarding his dealings with food television producers, and the Illustrious Datebook Diner, who was as inquisitive as ever.  Let’s see if we can turn back time and find a way to cull forth her comment…(The following is in no way an attack on DD, but since she summed up many good points in her comment, this is happening.)

[rubs magic jaunty light fixture]

La Bonne Femme: Well, maybe there’s an adverse connection between our “gluttonous portion lack of control” and the finesse/precision/creativity of our cuisine. When quantity is valued over quality, bi-coastal food scouts aren’t going to pay much attention.

I see the point, but quantity is valued over quality in every city around the country, in one restaurant or another.  Food Scouts go either to the “Big 5,” NYC, SF, LA, PDX, CHI, or to Places Of Interest As Promoted By Said Places Of Interest.  You have to create a “buzz” or “rattle” around your food scene to get noticed, especially in a small market such as Des Moines.  This is where the “credibility” of the actual print press can come in handy, hence the call to um…arms? pens? You get the point.

Also, on the chef-driven local food scene, what can you get here that you can’t find at good restaurants in many places? What makes DSM stand out? Lots of cities in the country lie close to agricultural abundance….

All True, except that Iowa is supposed to be the Agricultural Center of this Tootsie Pop we call America.  How many licks will it take to get to the center? Huh?

it’s what chefs do with the goods that makes news.

Yes, but it is really what the NEWS WRITERS do with the news of what the chefs are doing with the goods that makes a difference.  News is just marketing with a little more credibility in this equation, so get out there and spread the words.  There are chefs that are kicking some culinary ass around here, and they aren’t getting the due that they deserve.  This is a problem.  You can’t get noticed if your head is buried in the sand.  Just ask any ostrich.

Don’t get me wrong–I love the food scene here, but I just wonder what you think would be worth the country’s attention, as in, You HAVE to go to Des Moines to eat at __________.

(I have an answer, but you go first.)

Ok, I will go first.  In fact, the first draft of yesterday’s nonsense-a-thon included a list.  Here is another version of it, in not much of an order:

  1. Alba
  2. Cafe Di Scala
  3. Azalea
  4. Baru 66
  5. The entire Asian Cuisine phenomenon (I realize this is not a restaurant)
  6. Lincoln Cafe

There are many others, but I am on a time constraint here.

Here is MY point:  The writers of Juice, the Register, Cityview, and all other major news outlet type things: Please listen to what I am saying here.  I, along with many local chefs and restaurateurs, implore you to use your influence and maybe a little of your free time to lift up the Food Scene.  Help elevate it to the “next level” by working with other media outlets, in other cities, to form some kind of partnership…and maybe, now that we have our proverbial foot in television’s door, we can let the world know what is happening in the great city of Des Moines.

Yep.

 

The Cook