Why is it so hard to make it as a chef in New York?
Tanya Steel is a well-known food writer and Editor-in-Chief of the award-winning food Web site, Epicurious.com. Before joining Epicurious, Steel was the New York Editor of Bon Appetit magazine, where she wrote columns and features. Ms. Steel won the prestigious James Beard Foundation Journalism Award for Magazine Restaurant Review or Critique, 2003. She is a member of the American Society of Magazine Editors and a James Beard Restaurant Judge. Prior to Bon Appétit, she was an editor at Diversion, Food & Wine, and Mademoiselle magazines. In recent years, Steel created the charity program Wine. Dine. Donate. to combat hunger in conjunction with America's Second Harvest. Steel is the co-author of Real Food for Healthy Kids, which was published in late 2008.
Tanya Steel: I think New York City is probably the hardest city in the world to make it for a chef. I think one reason is that the rents are so high that you already are boxed into creating a certain kind of restaurant. I think another reason is that the population is so sophisticated and really knows what they’re doing; and knows that if you don’t know what you’re doing, they’ll call you on it right then and there. I think that the level of criticism in the city professionally is the highest of any city that I can think of. London would be a close second, but New York City by far. The level of sophistication of the restaurant critics here is phenomenal. So people really know that if you’re making a … they know what that …should taste like. You can’t pull the wool over anyone’s eyes here. So I think that’s why New York is so hard for critics. And you know it’s the old Frank Sinatra song. If you can make it here you can make it anywhere, and it is really true.
One reason is an extremely sophisticated audience.
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