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Frank Mahony

The Chef Has No Clothes

6/15/2008   Comment on This

If you’ve read my blog, you know that I am a chronic complainer. Like my old philosopher pal René Descartes used to say, “I complain, therefore I am” (or something like that).

You may have heard me express my dissatisfaction about a recent dinner at Alinea – voted the Best Restaurant in America in 2006. I had Grant’s food at other restaurants before, so I knew what to expect. I have no “issue” with the chef, Grant Achatz. He’s doing his thing – making food he “believes in” which reflects his tastes and style. I know all about his battle against cancer and how he is a very dedicated and hard working guy. I can’t give him a hard time for following his vision; I just don’t like his food.

My problem is the “ass kissing” critics. Nobody has anything negative to say except me. I cannot be the “only” one who didn’t love it.

I’ve had all types of far out food at all types of far out places that I sometimes liked and sometimes disliked. You can’t like everything. Yet, I can’t find any negative “professional” critique of Alinea. It’s the opposite; critics describe the food as if some kind of perfection has been achieved. In my opinion, the courses don’t flow well and I didn’t like many of the ingredient combinations that oddly jumped back and forth between sweet/bitter/savory until my palate felt like an ashtray after 20+ courses. One entrée featured a pasty sauce called “burnt bread” that tasted like a puree of the crap that falls to the bottom of your toaster. I’ll concur that the food is plated more artistically than at any other place I’ve been but I would not vote Alinea the best restaurant in America or even Chicago.

As I said, I cannot be the only one who had this thought - but obviously, I’m the only one speaking up and/or being honest. It’s not that I don’t appreciate unusual foods and flavor combinations. During a recent meal at Schwa, we had pickled crab in a slightly-sweet banana sauce and a dessert of sweetbreads (thymus glad) in a sweet rutabaga sauce. Both were unusually different and awesome.

These days, chefs are celebrities and it seems nobody wants to be the one to say, “The Chef Has No Clothes.” In the June issue of Chicago Magazine, writer Dennis Ray Wheaton laid it on so thick I can see the brown stain on his nose. You wonder if he is just positioning himself to get a table any time he wants (always be wary of guys with three names).

Come on critics! You’re like little kids in the big city for the first time, amazed by the bright lights. You're not supposed to be drinking the Kool-aid. We read your “professional” opinions to hear real pros and the cons. There should always be some of both or you’re not being honest to us or yourself and you don’t sound credible.

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Frank Mahony

All You Can Eat Foie Gras Bar

5/26/2008   Comment on This

The Chicago City Council officially ended the ban on Foie Gras that was enacted in 2006. Once they had their toe in the door with with Foie Gras, the “nut jobs” could take us down the same slippery slope with any food that is objectionable to any fringe group for any reason.

  • Cheeseburgers banned because they are too fattening
  • Pork banned because pigs are smart animals
  • Plants as food banned because they are injured as they are harvested

    If you think I’m kidding, read these:
    Plant's Rights

    Not so long ago, if you spouted this silliness, men in white coats would show up at your door with a straitjacket to take you away for your sanity evaluation. Now we have governments evaluating the merits of absolutely kooky ideas. I know, I know… We’re talking about the Swiss Government. I think the Swiss government buildings are rectangular and yellow with random holes that you climb in and out of rather than doors and windows. Possibly, the entire country needs an evaluation at Bellevue, but I do dig the Swiss Miss chick sprinkling mini-marshmallows in my hot chocolate.


    On a not very recent dinner in the kitchen at Charlie Trotters (years ago, he was a Foie Gras fan, not a protester), my wife told Charlie that the Foie Gras course was outstanding and that he should open an “All You Can Eat Foie Gras Bar.” He leaned back towards her, arms folded, and with an almost Groucho Marx delivery said, “That might significantly shorten the life expectancy of the diners.” I think he lost that fun lovin attitude after his divorce.

    If chefs or diners don’t approve of a food, that’s their choice but don’t try to legislate my food based on your whacky opinions. Geoff and I are both members of (PETA) People that Eat Tasty Animals (I stole that from some comic). When the animals (or plants) evolve to the point that they are picketing my favorite restaurants, maybe I’ll hear their argument.

    Until then, let’s keep the government out of our food and cigars. They have enough other important issues to solve.

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    Frank Mahony

    Shopping Your Dump

    5/15/2008   Comment on This

    Sorry in advance. This blog entry is going to be a little disgusting, but this phenomenon really irritates me. It just happened to me again today, so it is fresh in my mind. If you work in a building with many floors, you will know what I am talking about.

    You walk into the restroom on your floor and see somebody you've never seen before who is either about to "stink up" the bathroom or has just done so. When he's finished, he heads for the stairs or the elevator to go back to where he came from. He knew he was going to cause a Level 5 Hazard Zone, so he located a floor where he could be more anonymous. A guy from the 2nd floor comes up to the 7th floor. A guy from the 7th floor goes down to the 4th floor, and so on and so on... You've got people wandering the building picking their spot.

    It's what I call - "Shopping Your Dump"

    I really want to tell these migrant dumpers that I need to see some form of ID that associates them with this floor or I'll have to ask them to leave. Get the hell outa here! You don't belong on this floor - move along...

    Am I alone here?

    I suspect this is a guy thing - I don't know for sure though. I haven't spent enough time in women's restrooms to get the facts. I'll put that on my list for future research.

    If you are one of these wandering dumpers, be aware that I'm on to your scheme. I'll be snapping pictures of you with my cell phone and posting your picture to warn people on the other floors.

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    Frank Mahony

    You’ve been Rick Rolled!

    4/1/2008   Comment on This

    The people at YouTube have a good sense of humor. Today, in honor of April Fools Day, YouTube spoofed everyone who clicked on a “Featured Video” and Rick Rolled them.

    What does it mean to be Rick Rolled?

    Being Rick Rolled is when you click on a link that says something like

    hot pictures of Britney Spears

    and instead of being directed to what you expected, you are taken to a Music Video of Rick Astley singing his 1980’s hit “Never Gonna Give you Up”. This started with kids playing pranks on each other in chat forums about video games. Why they picked this song, nobody knows for sure.

    Wikipedia on Rickrolling

    Way to go YouTube!

    Featured Videos:

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  • Recent Blogs

    6/15/2008 The Chef Has No Clothes
    5/26/2008 All You Can Eat Foie Gras Bar
    5/15/2008 Shopping Your Dump
    4/1/2008 You’ve been Rick Rolled!

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