Where Do You Side on the Tasting Menu Debate?
Welcome to Chow Bella's Bites & Dishes, where Valley chefs and restaurateurs respond to a question New Times food critic Laura Hahnefeld has on her mind. Have a question you'd like to ask? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Vanity Fair food writer Corby Kummer likened them to a form of culinary dictatorship. New York Times critic Pete Wells says they're "spreading like an epidemic" across the country. They're tasting menus, small portions of several dishes as a single meal. And these days, they're a hot topic.
Mijune @ followmefoodie.com Egg caviar at Jean-Georges in Manhattan.
What do Valley chefs and restaurateurs have to say about the current backlash to this wonderful, terrible way of dining? Here's what a few of them had to say:
Educate yourself before getting into a tasting menu. No one is forcing you to order it. Be mindful of the people responsible for executing your shellfish, dairy, wheat, proteins, carbs, nightshade, and fruit allergies. Tasting menus and what we offer as an omakase (entrusting your chef) at Roka Akor are an experience, not a cafeteria lunch. If you find this "tasting" excruciating and annoying, find something accommodating.
Tasting menus are not for everyone and that includes me. I don't like to sit down and eat 20 to 30-plus different bites of different foods. I have to choose one or two of the ones I like best, and that just makes me want to eat a meal of that. But oh, no, you just get two bites and then on to the next course. Give me a couple of great courses and let me enjoy my dinner!
If you don't like it, don't go. If you don't like the chef's philosophy, don't go. You have a choice. The same is true if you don't like pizza, don't go to a pizza place. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but that one is just stupid.
The Phoenix area could and does sustain a few "Tasting Menus Only." As a chef, I love them. I love doing them because it stirs the creative juices and allows me to showcase what I like to do. As a guest, very few chefs can pull it off to be worth the trip. A tasting menu should be about the seasons and food. More taste, less drama.