Not a single frigging Best New Chef Award for Florida this year from Food & Wine, which announced its picks on April 1st. In fact, all the magazine's Best New Chefs are far, far, away -- the closest one is Linton Hopkins in Atlanta, who chefs at Holman & Finch and Restaurant Eugene. That's nine hours and eight minutes of driving if I leave West Palm at 11 a.m. and hope to arrive at the fashionable dinner hour, which even for my appetites sounds like a stretch.
Hopkins does appear to be a true Southerner when it comes to cooking, with a decidedly Gulf-coast sensibility: consider that Mr. Hopkins's menu includes roast shad roe with lime pickle and onion puree; levain crusted snapper with white shrimp, soft grits and scallions; or roasted Apalachicola oysters with Benton's bacon and Herbsaint. At Eugene, Hopkins serves no less than 15 different vegetable dishes (fried green tomatoes with crawfish remoulade, skillet greens with crisp shallot and sorghum gastrique). Almost makes you wish you lived in Pensacola. Not!!!
Since Floridians were overlooked this year, Short Order offers its own alternative list of Best Old Chefs 2009, in no particular order, because what the hell, we're tired of America's obsessive youth culture. Feel free to contradict, haggle, or offer your own suggestions, with the only stipulation that your nominee needs to have at least a few gray hairs (or no hair at all). But hey, 50 is the new 35, right? And it takes a decade or two to develop the wrist action to whip those egg whites the way we like 'em.
Short Order's Best Old Chefs Awards, 2009
Laurent Tasic, Sage in Hollywood and Fort Lauderdale
Eduardo Pria, Eduardo de San Angel
Steve Martorano of Cafe Martorano
Joseph Schibanetz, Josef's
Allen Susser, Chef Allen's.
Norman Van Aken (Where the hell is he? Ck his blog here)