PHOTO: Phaidon Press
Laura Brehaut/Postmedia News
Originally published on January 24, 2013;
Montreal Gazette: February 9, 2013; page H6
400 of the world’s best chefs share their favourite restaurants
If anyone knows where to find the best late-night eats, it’s a chef. Post-evening service hangouts, breakfast spots, local favourites, bargain and high-end eateries are all included in Where Chefs Eat (Phaidon, January 2013) – an international restaurant guidebook featuring over 2,000 restaurant picks from more than 400 chefs.
Edited by food critic and co-founder of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards Joe Warwick, the book includes personal recommendations from world-renowned chefs such as René Redzepi of Copenhagen’s Noma, Heston Blumenthal of British restaurant The Fat Duck, David Chang of the New York-based Momofuku restaurant group, and Alex Atala of São Paulo’s D.O.M. Throughout his career, Warwick has been lucky enough to interview chefs both abroad and in his native U.K., and he often relies on chef recommendations when travelling somewhere new. “They know what’s going on. They know what the competition is doing – they get out and eat in other people’s restaurants – and they share.” he says.
Part of the inspiration for the book came from one of Warwick’s visits to El Bulli – Spanish chef Ferran Adrià’s Michelin 3-star restaurant that was located in Roses, Catalonia. The restaurant had put together a few pages of restaurant recommendations to give to guests – a list of trusted and loved places that they would recommend to friends. “I think that’s the idea with [Where Chefs Eat]. It’s where you’d send your friends,” Warwick says. He adds that unlike other guidebooks and recommendation sites, the chefs have put their names on their selections. “It’s almost like it’s the same as when they cook. If they send you somewhere shoddy, you’re going to go, ‘Why should I eat in this guy’s restaurant? He doesn’t even know how to pick a restaurant to go and eat in!’”
Warwick’s experience with The World’s 50 Best Restaurant awards influenced his approach in putting together the book somewhat. He felt that unlike the awards, the label “best” had to be qualified. “The idea with this was to get chefs to pick restaurants for specific things – not to just sort of say, ‘Oh, you know, what is your favourite?’” he says. Chefs submitted restaurants according to eight different categories: breakfast, late night, regular neighbourhood, local favourite, bargain, high end, wish I’d opened and worth the travel.
In the “wish I’d opened” category, there was one overwhelming favourite – Noma – which was recommended by 32 chefs. However, the book doesn’t rely on rankings. Whether one chef recommended it or 30, every restaurant got a listing. “I think the chefs liked the idea that it wasn’t going to be a ranking. It was an inclusive thing and they got into the spirit of it,” Warwick says. “Some chefs sent in their surveys and then they sent another email going, ‘Oh! And there’s also this place that I forgot about.’ And then you’d get another email a week later. ‘I was thinking the other day and actually I should have mentioned this place as well.’”
With travellers increasingly planning trips around where and what they’re going to eat, Where Chefs Eat was designed as a starting point to dining in major cities and some more obscure destinations. Warwick estimates that he has eaten at 500 of the approximately 2,000 restaurants listed in the book, and has made discoveries of his own in putting the book together. “Some of the restaurants came across so it just makes me really want to go there,” he says. “There’s a herring wagon in Stockholm. There’s a hot dog stand in Stockholm again. There’s a thing called a wet burger in Istanbul that I just researched, which is basically a burger that they steam in this really pungent, garlic, chili oil that sounds terribly messy but incredibly delicious. There’s the best ham sandwich in Barcelona, so those sorts of things are really interesting as well.”
Recommendations from Canadian chefs such as Vancouver’s Vikram Vij, Toronto’s Claudio Aprile, Montreal’s Ségué Lepage, and St. John’s Jeremy Charles are included in the book with Medina (breakfast, Vancouver), Chantecler (high end, Toronto), Café Sardine (late night, Montreal), Bonavista Social Club (local favourite, Bonavista, Newfoundland and Labrador) and Haisai (wish I’d opened, Singhampton, Ontario) making appearances. Warwick adds that he expected recommendations in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver but was pleasantly surprised to see several Newfoundland restaurants submitted. “It’s great,” he says laughing, “It kind of makes me want to go to Newfoundland!”
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