Name: James Syhabout
Making: "I'm making a scallop dish with smoked stone fruit and licorice. Yes, I'm using scallops from the East Coast—it's the only way to get 'em. But I'm using produce from here. Stone fruit is really still going strong right now."
On Fig-gate: "Everyone's entitled to their opinion. I mean, yeah, it is true. But does that reflect me and what I do here? It does not."
On San Francisco vs. New York: "I don't see it as a competition. We're just going in there to have fun. I'm not keeping score." Okay, but if you were? "I think we would win." [laughs] "It comes down to ingredients. If you start out with something that's mediocre, no matter what you do to it, it's going to be mediocre. If you start with a fine-grade foundation, you can only move up from there."
Name: Mario Carbone
Affiliation: Torrisi Italian Specialties
City: New York
Making: "We're doing a cucumber salad that we call cucumbers New Yorkese. Cucumbers are in season right now, and pickles are this Jewish New York thing, a flavor that really brings you back if you're from the area. We do this pickle salad with raw, fresh cucumbers, and then we slice pickles from all different stages of the pickling process. It'll have some corned lamb's tongue in there as well."
On Fig-gate: "I guess, you know, they need something to talk about. Dave's good for a comment every now and again."
On San Francisco vs. New York: "They've got the climate for produce. Our weather kills everything off for four months out of the year. But we're blessed with amazing dairies. You've got all these smaller farms—there's Milk Thistle Farm that we buy from, plus Pecorino from a company called Dancing Ewe Farm, Stonyfield Farm yogurt, local yogurt. It's pretty amazing; it's pretty endless."
Name: Jeremy Fox
Affiliation: Formerly of Napa's Ubuntu; next up, a top-secret new Bay Area restaurant gig to be announced soon
City: San Francisco
Making: "I have a few dishes planned. One is called square roots and coffee—some nice cubes of assorted root vegetables in a light mushroom broth, dressed with a little bit of mustard and a kind of emulsified sauce that's made from caramelized sunchokes, brewed coffee, roasted red pepper, roasting juices, mushroom stock, black cardamom, and a little bit of crème fraîche. Another dish is compressed cucumbers in a version of bagna cauda made with miso instead of anchovies. That'll have some black-olive caramel on the dish, some pieces of crispy fingerling potato, some ice plant, and a little bit of shaved Parmesan." Sorry, ice plant? "It's a French variety of succulent, ficoïde glaciale, that basically translates as 'ice lettuce.' It looks like it's coated in droplets of water. When you bite into it's got a burst of water and brininess and salinity."
On Fig-gate: "I know David, and I know that his quote was taken out of context, which can happen fairly easily. When one of his appearances was canceled, I offered him a venue instead. Looking back, there was a lot of truth to his statement. However, I've definitely noticed a sea change—perhaps chefs took David's words to heart. Then again, sometimes I just want some figs on a fucking plate."
On San Francisco vs. New York: "The Bay Area chefs get to travel to New York City, cook with some of our favorite people in the world, and eat at great restaurants. So I think we should already be declared the winners. The rest is gravy. Gravy—that gives me an idea..."
A Master Class in Pasta
IMDB for Restaurants and Chefs
The Most Important Chef in America Works at McDonald's