Two days ago, the New York Times ran a seemingly innocuous article about a new chef that had cruised into town from the West. His name is Nate Appleman. Until recently, he was at the helm of the (uber delicious) A16, SPQR and the never-opened Urbino. I can’t say I blame Nate for leaving SF. In the last few years, he had certainly built a reputation for himself: he was a Chronicle Rising Star Chef in 2007, and also got the nod this year from both JBF and Food & Wine as a Rising Star and Best New Chef, respectively. OF COURSE opportunities are going to open up. And I see nothing wrong with him wanting to stretch his wings a little and see what else life might have in store for him.
San Francisco was all for the move too, I think, sad though it was to lose one of our city’s brightest culinary stars. But then, Nate made a comment that done got the SF food glitterati all in a tizzy:
“In San Francisco the audience is easy. You put tripe in a bowl and tell them it’s from a humanely raised cow and they’re going to eat it,” Mr. Appleman said.
Because the food media here all piggyback on each other, strong story or not (or my favorite case: recycling the same story over and over–food carts, Julie&Julia, the Obama garden, anyone?), it follows that everyone’s been tweeting and blogging about how Nate “slammed” SF. If you Google “Nate Appleman New York Times,” as I just did to find a link to the article, the first three “news” search results that come up all have the following headlines:
“Did Nate Appleman Diss San Francisco?”
“Okay, Appleman, So We Like Sustainable Tripe. Did You Have to Diss Us So Hard?”
“A16′s ex Nate Appleman sticks a knife in SF diners; here’s what other chefs have to say”
My question to San Francisco is this: who cares? Why is this news? And why, for God’s sake, are our panties in such a tightly wound wad over it? I honestly can’t believe that some people are as incensed as they are (or at least as they’re pretending to be).
I seriously love this city, but sometimes, I completely understand why it gets the reputation it does. This is one of those cases where I think San Francisco really needs to get over itself.
And for the record, I think that when it comes to many dining circles in this city, Nate has a point. Not like I’d eat tripe that’s fresh off a truck from Harris Ranch or anything, but the man has a point.