Since 1969, restaurant, hotel, travel & other witty reviews by a handpicked, worldwide team of discerning professionals—and your views, too.




  • pinitbutton Les Espoirs de Mougins 2011: The Winner, Le Gagnant

by Sophie Gayot

This past weekend, the 6th Festival International de la Gastronomie was held in Mougins, France. Over eighty chefs from all over the world made the trip to the south of France to showcase their cuisine during Les Etoiles de Mougins. The highlight of the three days was Sunday’s chef competition.

During the first step, five chefs were selected from a list of seventy: Francis Ogé (a cook in the kitchen at the Elysée Palace), Filipo Fiorentini (Arnolfo restaurant, Italy), Nelson Da Silva (Le Loom, Seignosse), Jessica Largey (sous-chef at David Kinch’s Manresa, Los Gatos, Calif.) and Olivier Jean (Le Métropole, Monte-Carlo). They had two hours to prepare a “foie gras cuit servi chaud avec une garniture libre autour de la courge butternut” (warm cooked foie gras with butternut squash based garnish). To make it harder, at the last minute, the jury introduced a mystery ingredient: lentils.
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  • pinitbutton Tastes & Saveurs in Mougins, France

by Sophie Gayot

The sixth edition of Les Étoiles de Mougins, Festival International de la Gastronomie et des Arts de Vivre will be held September 16-18, 2011, on The Riviera in the gorgeous village of Mougins (Côte d’Azur, France). After the second edition in 2007, the prestigious event had to limit the number of participating chefs to 100 due to its overwhelming success. The Festival was created by mayor Richard Galy in 2006 to honor chef Roger Vergé who literally put Mougins on the world map with his restaurant and hotel Le Moulin de Mougins. If it sounds familiar, this is where Liz Taylor would hold her “big” AIDS charity dinner during the Cannes Film Festival. Watch the exclusive video interview with Mayor Richard Galy, the man behind the Festival. He wants people to know that Mougins is also a city of art with over 30 galleries and “ateliers d’art” stretching along the small winding and charming streets, and it now has a new Museum of Classical Art.

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  • pinitbutton Joël Robuchon, A Stellar Chef

by Sophie Gayot

In 1990, Joël Robuchon was named Cuisinier du Siècle, Chef of the Century. The title, which did not come easily, was based on his impressive, extraordinary talent, so-well-controlled creativity, religious respect of produce and the purity of his flavors. Luckily for us, his gifts are still going strong in this century.

Since moving from Poitou (a Western region of France) to Paris in 1978, Robuchon has distilled his undisputable cooking skills throughout the world with ultra-fine dining establishments like Restaurant Joël Robuchon in Las Vegas (a Top 40 Restaurant since its 2005 opening), and the L’Atelier concept. I have to admit that when I saw the first Atelier under construction in Paris in the winter of 2002, I was skeptical about having Robuchon’s delicacies sitting behind a bar on a bar stool, without having the possibility of sharing these culinary pleasures with more than one or two persons (it’s not easy to have a larger party along a bar). Oh, boy, was I wrong! There are now nine Ateliers around the world, with the latest addition in Singapore.

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  • pinitbutton A Night at the 2011 James Beard Foundation Awards
boulud sud james beard 300x225 A Night at the 2011 James Beard Foundation Awards

The brand-new Boulud Sud was one of many NYC restaurants that hosted after-parties for the 2011 James Beard Foundation Awards

by Meryl Pearlstein

The theme of this year’s James Beard Foundation Awards, which took place Monday night at Lincoln Center’s Fisher Hall in New York City, was “Melting Pot,” paying homage to the expansion of international street food and cuisine. Kicking off the evening with a “green carpet” parade of nominees, the 21st annual awards ceremony was hosted by James Beard Award winners Tom Colicchio, Ming Tsai and Traci Des Jardins, who introduced the presenters of this year’s awards. The multicultural mood ran through the entire night, with nominees and winners representing a diverse background, and was also showcased in the gala tasting that followed the ceremony.

“Melting Pot” was also evident in this year’s choice of America’s Classics restaurants, commended for their lasting contribution to the restaurant scene and including Chef Vola’s (Italian) in Atlantic City, Le Veau d’Or (French) in New York City, and Noriega Restaurant (Basque) in Bakersfield, California.

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  • pinitbutton The 2011 Winners of the James Beard Foundation Awards

by Sophie Gayot

UPDATE 5/09/11: The award ceremony is now finished. We have posted the winners on our James Beard Foundation Awards page. Congratulations to all the winners (and the nominees)!


 Food is vital to all us. Since it is an absolute necessity, we might as well make it taste good, whether it is served at a temple of haute gastronomy or a more casual and affordable place. In the tough competitive world of restaurants, when honors are awarded, it can bring them even more business and more accolades.


Therefore, restaurateurs, chefs and savvy diners look forward to our Annual Restaurant Issue that includes awards such as the Top 40 Restaurants in the U.S., the Top 10 New Restaurants in the U.S. and many more. They also check out other restaurant honors like the S.Pellegrino Top 50 Restaurants in the World and the James Beard Foundation Awards.

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  • pinitbutton Obamas Dinner: A lot of Bread
obama 220x300 Obamas Dinner: A lot of Bread
President Barack Obama

by Jeff Hoyt

Is President Obama reading We certainly hope so. We named mk one of our top 10 Chicago Special Occasion Restaurants, and the President has decided to host a special occasion there tonight. The site of his fundraiser is also on our top 10 Chicago American restaurant list, which is important as he is already wooing voters for the 2012 Presidential election. It is also on our top 10 Chicago Romantic restaurant list, so we hope Michelle will be there!

Dinner will be a little pricier than usual tonight: a reported $35,800 a head. For that kind of donation, we’d expect to be named Ambassador to a Caribbean island nation. Here’s what’s on the menu that features only sustainably produced American food and wine:

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  • pinitbutton 2011 Best Restaurateur in the U.S.

by Sophie Gayot

Every year we pick the best of the best when it comes to restaurants, and compile them in our Annual Restaurant Issue.

The categories include the Top 40 Restaurants in the U.S., Top 10 New Restaurants in the U.S., Top 10 Steakhouses in the U.S., and Top 40 Cheap Eats in the U.S. But there’s only one category where we pick a single winner, and that’s for the Best Restaurateur of the Year in the U.S.

For 2011, we have chosen chef Michael Mina. Read Mina’s profile to find out why we selected him, and watch my exclusive video interview with him shot during my recent visit to his new flagship restaurant Michael Mina in San Francisco.

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  • pinitbutton What Made Michelin Red?
michelin stars japan 300x202 What Made Michelin Red?

Michelin spreading its stars over Japan (drawing by Jean-Pierre Desclozeaux, as published in the book "Rouge de Honte")

by André Gayot

The book started as a gift, both to the audacious people who dared purchase an automobile in the early twentieth century, and to their indispensable companions, garage mechanics. Its purpose was to help those brave drivers find a tasty destination for lunch as well as a garage that could repair their new machines, and perhaps change the tires, since selling tires was and still is the main goal of the Michelin Company, and a lucrative one at that.

The brothers Michelin got mad and decided to end the free distribution of the guide when they discovered how one mechanic employed it: instead of using a jack, he had propped up a car in his garage with a pile of their books. The guide Michelin became a business; although not profitable in itself, it generated huge publicity value.


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  • pinitbutton When Democracy Rises from the Kitchen
beet comte cheese carpaccio 300x193 When Democracy Rises from the Kitchen

Beet Comte cheese carpaccio by chef Christophe Bellanca of Aureole NY

by André Gayot

Traveling in Germany recently, I was impressed when at the Porsche plant in Leipzig, along with 600 American guests, I was served a high quality dinner. The duck was cooked just right, the plates were warm, the service was precise to the millimeter and the meal unwound in no time. The only lengthy part was due to the speeches of my fellow diners. For this gastronomical tour de force I credit the much heralded German engineering that also produces those sturdy vacuum cleaners and dishwashers, as well as prestigious limousines and coupés. Expensive, but they last a lifetime. The hip-hop generation may not be sensitive to hardware longevity, considering that progress moves faster than life.

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  • pinitbutton Chicago Chef Week Begins March 20
CHRES070804 Chicago Chef Week Begins March 20

Sepia is one of dozens of restaurants with special Chicago Chef Week menus.

by Jennifer Olvera

Chicagoans: they love their food. Having just wrapped up Chicago Restaurant Week, Chicago Chef Week — slated for March 20-26 — is soon to follow. With it comes an endless array of $22 three-course lunches and $33 three-course dinners, plus beverages, taxes and gratuity, at many of the city’s hottest tables. Some restaurants serve a special menu only at lunch or dinner, and some Chicago restaurants will offer both.

At Sepia, both meals will be served, with offerings such as English pea soup with Parmigiano custard; grilled rainbow trout with citrus, fennel and black olives; and sweet cornmeal financier with basil-goat cheese ice cream and apricot-date chutney during lunch. Meanwhile, at Nightwood, expect a divine-sounding dinner of fried artichokes with lemons and aioli; chili-laced rigatoni with almonds, ricotta and mint and toffee-rum bread pudding with vanilla sauce. Other participating restaurants range from avec and Blackbird to Sola, Sable Kitchen & Bar, The Bristol and One sixtyblue. For a full list of hot-spots, visit

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