A job for life: the ‘new economy’ and the rise of the artisan career: Whatever you think of the gig economy, it does throw up some amusingly bizarre jobs. Set Sar, of Providence, Rhode Island, told this paper in 2015 that he earns a crust by looking at videos and web pages on his computer while having his eyeball movements tracked via webcam. The information this provides is valuable to advertisers — and earns him a dollar every few minutes. In its higher echelons, the gig economy has led to an array of jobs with “consultant” in their title, as people find ingenious ways to peddle niche services to the rich. In New York, for example, “play date consultants” charge up to $400 an hour to teach the progeny of millionaires to share their toys.
The Real Cost and Benefit of (Temporarily) Moving an Entire Restaurant to the Other Side of the Globe: In less than a year, the restaurant Olmsted has become something of a fixture in its Prospect Heights neighborhood, with the dining experience informed by a garden-to-table sensibility tied to the Brooklyn location and ethos. This spring, however, 3,850 miles away from Prospect Heights, a restaurant called Olmsted opened in Madrid for a single month. The Brooklyn restaurant’s signature carrot crêpe made an appearance in Spain, but with Spanish clams. So did a celebrated pork-collar dish, but manchego replaced the usual melted raclette cheese. The Brooklyn playlist, filled with Ol’ Dirty Bastard and Kanye West, blasted on the speakers. While Olmsted’s chef-owner, Greg Baxtrom, trained at some of the most prominent fine-dining restaurants in America (Alinea, Blue Hill at Stone Barns), the arrival of his restaurant on the international pop-up circuit — long popular with the types of restaurants that compete for “World’s 50 Best” honors — is indicative of the enduring, and expanding, power of the restaurant-on-the-road business model.
How Ferran Adrià Took elBulli From Great Restaurant to Culinary Innovation Lab: The great chef—perhaps the greatest of all time—stands at the kitchen pass, his hair still an unruly halo, his gaze as intense as ever. Outside the kitchen, the pale March sun still sets the Spanish Mediterranean to sparkling; the ancient pines still hold their ground against the tramontane winds that blow south across the Pyrenees from France and down the headland of the Cap de Norfeu to the cove at Cala Montjoi. But inside there is no longer a team of 45 cooks working behind the chef in silent precision over their tasks, no fragile spherified olives being gently coaxed onto spoons or coconut milk “dinosaur eggs” trailing liquid nitrogen smoke on their way out to delighted diners. Instead, there is only rubble. Making himself an espresso from the one piece of equipment not covered in plastic and a thick layer of dust, the chef notices my expression. “You’re emotional because you’re thinking about what it was,” he says. “But I’m thinking about what it’s about to become.”
America’s most political food: In February of 2015, Kathleen Purvis, the food editor of the Charlotte Observer, drove to Birmingham, Alabama, to attend Food Media South, an annual symposium. The keynote session, “Hey, You, Pitch Me Something,” was meant to be a friendly wind-down to a weekend of talks. Participants were invited to get up in front of the editor of the Web magazine the Bitter Southerner and, well, pitch him something.
Interview: Richard Neat, a British Master Chef Who Started Over in Costa Rica: British-born chef Richard Neat cooked in the UK and France with chefs including Marco Pierre White, Raymond Blanc, and Joel Robuchon; was hailed as one of the greatest chefs of his generation; and in 1996, at age 29, he earned two Michelin stars as head chef at London’s legendary Pied à Terre. But that year he decided to pack up his knives and travel the world as a journeyman chef, working in kitchens in India, Cannes, Moscow, and Morocco before deciding to settle down and open Park Cafe in San Jose, Costa Rica, where I recently dined. After the meal, which was (without hyperbole) the best I’ve ever eaten, I sat down with the cerebral and philosophical Neat to discuss cooking, living, and enjoying life out of the limelight.
Silicon Valley’s $400 Juicer May Be Feeling the Squeeze: One of the most lavishly funded gadget startups in Silicon Valley last year was Juicero Inc. It makes a juice machine. The product was an unlikely pick for top technology investors, but they were drawn to the idea of an internet-connected device that transforms single-serving packets of chopped fruits and vegetables into a refreshing and healthy beverage.
A Day in the Life of a Food Vendor: It’s 6 on a Wednesday morning, and Kabir Ahmed has snoozed his alarm one too many times. He steps softly, barefoot, around his small, second-story apartment in Jamaica, Queens, creaking through the green and pink hall. He is late, but careful not to wake his wife and their three children, or his mother, who will be up in an hour to say prayers and cook breakfast. He puts on his baseball hat, slides his feet into rubber clogs and hurries out without coffee.
The Science Behind Your Cheap Wine: We live in a golden age of wine, thanks in part to thirsty millennials and Americans seemingly intent on out-drinking the French. Yet for all its popularity, the sommelier’s world is largely a mysterious one. Bottles on grocery store shelves come adorned with whimsical images and proudly proclaim their region of origin, but rarely list ingredients other than grapes. Meanwhile, ordering wine at a restaurant can often mean pretending to understand terms like “mouthfeel,” “legs” or “bouquet.”
The Cork Dork Comes Clean: Bianca Bosker rocketed from nobody to the most-talked-about person in the wine world recently on the strength of a provocative excerpt from her book “Cork Dork” that was published in the New York Times, in which she detailed the process by which supermarket wines are made. What most people didn’t understand is that the book actually has very little about wine itself: it’s about Bosker giving up her job as a tech journalist to become a sommelier. It’s not about wine per se: it’s mostly about the process of tasting, with interesting tidbits about the lives and trade secrets of New York sommeliers
Jefford on Monday: Wine stories: One of the complaints intermittently levelled at wine writers is that they don’t tell enough stories. This view was articulately expressed (and memorably wrapped in a story of her own) by Felicity Carter, editor-in-chief of Wine Business International, in a speech to the Digital Wine Communications Conference in Plovdiv in 2015; you can find a written version here. Carter suggests that we live in a world of great storytelling, in many different formats, but that this richness has passed wine by — to our subject’s detriment.