The James Beard Foundation has released its long list of finalists. Soon to be culled down to the short or finalist list.
As was true last year, Boston/Cambridge made the culinary equivalent of Best Supporting Actor or Actress.
What does this tell you about the dining scene? In a word: Solipsism. If you read the reviews of Boston/Cambridge restaurants written by local critics and “foodies,” you might think we’re living with a cornucopia of dining options where great chefs, one after another, dazzle. It just ain’t so. The bar is set so low in Boston/Cambridge, you could step right over it.
Anyhow, here are the Beard Foundation 2011 highlights:
In Best New Restaurant, a national category, the only Boston or Cambridge restaurant listed is Menton.
In the category of Outstanding Chef, a national category, not a single Boston or Cambridge restaurant is mentioned. This begs the question: Who is cooking at Menton?
In the category of Outstanding Restaurant, a national category, not a single Boston or Cambridge restaurant is listed.
In the category of Outstanding Restaurateur, a national category, the only Boston or Cambridge CEO mentioned is Roger Berkowitz of Legal Seafoods.
In the category of Outstanding Service, a national category, only one Boston or Cambridge property is noted: L’Espalier.
In the category of Outstanding Wine Service, a national category, one Boston or Cambridge restaurant is noted: Troquet.
In the category of Rising Star Chef of the Year, a national category, only one Boston or Cambridge chef is noted: Will Gilson at Garden at the Cellar.
In the category of Best Chef Northeast, 20 chefs are listed. Only two are from Boston or Cambridge: Tim Cushman of o ya and Tony Maws of Craigie on Main.
When Anthony Bourdain came to Boston recently to film an episode for his culinary travel show, he featured joints and bars associated with a movie made nearly 40 years ago: The Friends of Eddie Coyle.
When Emeril was in Boston last month, he filmed Boston’s oldest restaurants, noting Union Oyster House.
Michelin goes to Las Vegas, Chicago, and Los Angeles, but not Boston. Why, do you suppose? Can’t fill the pages?
Again, it’s really a shame that a city with the East Coast’s best fish and shellfish, with access to top produce, and with customers who know food simply cannot achieve at its potential.