Where Chefs Eat
Edited by Joe Warwick
If there’s one thing chefs love as much as cooking, it’s eating out. Gone are the days when they were chained to their stoves and never left the confines of their kitchens. These days eating out is most chefs’ number one hobby; they travel the world in search of the best restaurants, and of course, always seem to know where to find the best breakfast, late night dinner and everything in between.
So it’s great to see the launch of a new restaurant guide that is based on the recommendations of the world’s top chefs. After all, who better to rate a restaurant than someone who runs their own successful one?
Where Chefs Eat – A Guide to Chefs’ Favourite Restaurants lists more than 2,000 establishments around the globe, ranging from bargain noodle joints in Tokyo to three-Michelin-starred restaurants in the South of France.
All of them have been chosen by a line-up of more than 400 international chefs, from Adam Aamann, who runs his eponymous restaurant in Copenhagen, to Sue Zemanick, executive chef of Gautreau’s in New Orleans, and plenty of famous names – including Ferran Adrià, Rene Redzepi, Thomas Keller and Pierre Gagnaire to name but a few. Among the 61 contributing British chefs are Heston Blumenthal, Andrew Fairlie, Sat Bains, Tom Kerridge, Ollie Dabbous, Fergus Henderson and Paul Foster.
There are no star ratings or marks out of 10 in this guide, but each restaurant is grouped into one of eight categories: breakfast, late night, regular neighbourhood, local favourite, bargain, high end, worth the travel and – perhaps most interestingly – wish I’d opened, restaurants chefs have the deepest professional respect and admiration for.
While the latter category tends to include mostly high-end restaurants, such as the French Laundry, Bras, Noma or Mugaritz, there are some real secret gems among the late night joints, bargains and local favourites, highlighting that chefs are just as happy eating in a fast food or pizza place as they are in a multi-Michelin-starred restaurant.
However, while the idea of this book is undoubtedly genius, its execution seems somewhat patchy. The guide lacks any real detail, with the vast majority of featured restaurants having no review or explanation as to why the chefs like to eat there.
All that’s listed are basic need-to-know facts such as cuisine, style, reservation policy and price range, which makes it feel a bit like a hashed together list of recommendations that the authors were able to obtain quickly via email from the chefs rather than a comprehensive guide that gives any real insight into chefs’ likes and dislikes.
But having said that, it is still interesting to see where your favourite chefs like to eat and who they admire. Readers certainly won’t be short of places to try during a visit to a major city anywhere in the world.
And although at 700 pages, it’s a bit of a brick to carry around, you’ll soon be able to leave the book at home and download the iPhone app instead.
By Kerstin Kühn