Department of Ridiculous Press Releases: Valentine's Day Restaurant Gift Cards

Categories: My Rant, Sietsema

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If you're in the food-journalism biz, you get bombarded on a daily basis with press releases, often as many as 30 per day. Some are faintly rational, but others immediately provoke guffaws with their wild assertions. Here's the best one I've received so far today.

According to the National Restaurant Association: "While dining out remains a popular choice for Americans to celebrate Valentine's Day, new National Restaurant Association research shows that nearly one-third would also like to receive a restaurant gift card on February 14."

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Why No School for Waiters?

Categories: My Rant, Sietsema

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southparkstudios.com

Would-be chefs routinely blow $60,000 for half-year courses at the city's cooking academies. Afterward, they stage at restaurants, spend years as prep cooks, work the line, and finally function as sous-chefs before donning the chef de cuisine's toque. How much training do waiters usually get? About two hours.


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5 Reasons Why Farmers' Market Baked Goods Often Suck

Categories: My Rant, Sietsema

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Chalky, crumbly, low on flavor -- and please leave it in the oven a little longer.


You see them lined up on tables between the lavender sprigs and homemade soaps: pale, starchy, looking like a kid who hasn't been in the sun all summer. These are the baked goods of the farmers' markets. And not only do the cookies, cakes, pies, muffins, and sweet rolls often look bad, they frequently taste bad, too.


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Peruvian Food Does Not Disappoint, Unlike New York's La Mar

Categories: Featured, My Rant
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Robert Sietsema
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In 2008, I was working in Lima, Peru, and had the unique opportunity to interview Gaston Acurio, the Limenan chef behind the wildly popular La Mar Cebicheria franchise. 

Acurio, who in 2008 was as famous in the Andean nation as Anthony Bourdain is in America, had already launched many successful restaurants and a No Reservations-style TV show.

But in Acurio's test kitchen, located in the boho Barranco neighborhood, he lamented. Sure, he had folk-hero status and a successful culinary empire, but he felt that he wasn't doing enough to popularize Peruvian cuisine in the U.S. He wanted it to be as beloved a staple as Japanese or Thai food -- on every street corner and in every strip mall. 

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Marge Becomes a Food Blogger on this Sunday's Simpsons [Yawn]

Categories: My Rant, Sietsema

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20th Century Fox via Grub Street
I recognize most of the characters, but who's the bald guy?

The end-times for Foodism are near, my friends. This Sunday, Marge Simpson turns into a food blogger, as reported in an extensive Grub Street interview with Simpsons executive producer Matt Selman. Too predictably, the episode features or at least name-checks such foodie superstars as Tom Colicchio, Gordon Ramsay, Ruth Reichl, Frank Bruni, Wylie Dufresne, and, of course, Anthony Bourdain.


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Why I Hate Upselling in Restaurants, and the Emergence of Narrative Upselling

Categories: My Rant, Sietsema

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If you asked me the most annoying thing about restaurants lately, I wouldn't say noise level, astronomical wine markups, no-reservations policies, or tiny tables with no room for the dishes you've just ordered. Nor would I hesitate one second before shouting, "Upselling!"

Upselling occurs when the service staff tries to get you to order more food or wine than you'd intended, sometimes by direct suggestion, sometimes by more devious techniques.

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The Current State of the Restaurant Industry in NYC

Categories: My Rant, Sietsema

Read Fork in the Road, Eater, Grub Street, or any of the other New York-based restaurant-watching websites and everything seems hunky-dory. Each month, for example, statistics show that far more eating establishments have opened than closed. In fact, if you total up all the openings over the last decade, and subtract the paltry reported closings, you're likely to conclude that every storefront in the city is now a restaurant.

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NYC's Five Worst Pizza Slices

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The teriyaki (blech!) slice at Roll and Go


Here in Gotham, pizza is everywhere, and we've got new (and newfangled) places popping up every day in increasingly more obscure neighborhoods. And now it seems like the hipness of a neighborhood is measured by the assortment of pie places it harbors, explaining why the demise of Motorino was considered such a loss to Graham Avenue.


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Legends of the Diabolical Fiberglass Pizza Chef

Categories: My Rant, Sietsema

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"Sit on this," he seems to be saying.


You've spotted him outside innumerable neighborhood pizza parlors -- a slovenly, slouching, life-size fiberglass figure. He leers, he winks, he wears chef's whites and a toque that looks like somebody sat on it.

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5 Reasons Why Brunch Sucks

Categories: My Rant, Shockey

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Morganglines/Flickr
Brunch -- seemed like a good idea at the time.

Oh, Monday. Back to the grind of the workweek. No more sleeping until noon. No more afternoons of leisure. And no more brunch. While this might be cause for most city dwellers to be bummed out, this is something I am pretty stoked about. Why? Because brunch sucks.


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