Creating demand and exclusivity

Nick Paumgarten for the New Yorker – The most exclusive restaurant in America:

His story caters to such gastronomes, as they vie for superlative experiences—most extreme, most local, most remote, most odd. Here’s a Fäviken, the exotic farmhouse restaurant in rural Sweden, except it’s just one guy, in Earlton, and it’s booked through 2025. Its implausibility may be as important to its appeal as any range of textures or tastes. In June, the blog Opinionated About Dining released its list of the top hundred restaurants in the United States, based on a survey of globe-trotting pilgrims like Merrihue. Baehrel came in fifth, ahead of any other restaurant east of Chicago. (Blue Hill at Stone Barns was seventh; Eleven Madison Park was fifteenth.) MSN.com just named it the best restaurant in the state of New York. One evening in May, I happened to be watching “Jeopardy!,” and under the category “Almost Fanatical Devotion,” in which the other questions had to do with Stephen Colbert, Soul Cycle, and Phish, the following appeared on the screen: “There’s a 10-year waiting list for Damon Baehrel’s Earlton, N.Y. restaurant & its 5-hour this ‘menu’ of small portions.” A contestant guessed correctly: “What is the tasting menu?”

There’s no question that Baehrel’s food is good (per the reviews). But is it too good to be true?

Restaurants and food allergies

Why food allergy fakers need to stop

Neil Swidey for the Boston Globe:

Moreover, Leviton emphasizes that, as much as they work with extreme caution, they don’t cook in a vacuum. “We make bread in the same tiny kitchen we make everything else in,” he says, noting that it’s not as if the kitchen is being steam-cleaned to remove all flour dust. Most people who are “super-hyper-allergic,” he says, would stay away from restaurants because they know that just one tiny mistake could prove fatal.

This is the reason we haven’t served our son any restaurant food, and if we can avoid it, we don’t go to restaurants at all with him. We hardly go out to eat at all. Great for the wallet, but not so great if we’re out and forgot to bring his snacks/food with us.And then there are people who lie about their food preference or diet, calling it an allergy to ensure the item is taken out of their meal:

Dr. John McDougall, who peddles his low-fat, high-starch McDougall Program diet as a way to prevent degenerative disease, kicks it up a few notches, urging his flock to paint a picture for their servers. “Tell them you’re allergic to oil. [Say] ‘If I eat oil, I’ll have an anaphylactic reaction. I’ll have a seizure. You’ll have to call the ambulance. It will just be a whole big bad scene here in the restaurant. . . .’ ”

But restaurants are not blameless in this dance of deception. Culinary Institute of America professor and author Ezra Eichelberger is a leading voice on all things front-of-the-house. For too long, he says, too many restaurants tried to talk diners out of their preferences (“You’ve never had garlic the way our chef uses it”) or outright lied to them. They might, for instance, fail to disclose to vegetarians ordering the French onion soup that it was made with beef stock or neglect to wave pescatarians off the clam chowder because it has a little pork hidden in it.

Both restaurants and eaters need to come clean.