Are "Emperor Chefs" Like Michael Mina and Thomas Keller a Good Thing?
|Emperor Michael Mina.|
One of the most chilling quotes, at least to SFoodie, came from Vongerichten: "My view is that the first three months of a restaurant is best," he told the reporter. "Even though they're green, there starts to be turnover after that. Then you have to train the new team while the bus is running -- which is obviously much harder."
An empire is not inherently evil. Some chef emperors, like Todd English, are becoming renowned for the spotty quality of their food, while others -- Thomas Keller -- have not lost a single Michelin star as they've scaled up.
The biggest problem with empires is that the chef's indiosyncratic, personal vision easily becomes lost. As GQ critic Alan Richman tells the Huffington Post, the only reason for the rise of the emperor chef is money. "Cooking is one of the most individual enterprises in the world," he says. "There's nothing that lends itself less well to franchising than cooking."