New York's Michelin Stars and More News

In today's Media Mix, an Obama portrait made out of Cheetos, plus is it time to eat feet?

Arthur Bovino

The Daily Meal brings you the biggest news from the food world.

New York Michelin Stars: New York newcomer Atera, which opened some six months ago, received two Michelin stars, while Chef's Table at Brooklyn Fare, Daniel, Eleven Madison Park, Jean Georges, Le Bernardin, Masa, and Per Se retained their three stars. [NY Times]

Cheetos Portraits: And here is a portrait of President Obama made out of Cheetos. Because why not. [Yahoo]

Obesity, It's Still a Problem Guys: A new study found that the number of people who are severely obese is growing much faster than moderate obesity. [Eureka Alert]

Michelle Bachmann Parody Wants to Ban Falafel: In a satirical piece that's going viral, Michelle Bachmann wants to ban falafel and other "jihadi foods" from school lunches, calling falafel a gateway food. [The Daily Currant]

Let's Eat Feet: Apparently, feet have a strong role in cuisine, from Jamaican cow foot stew to Chinese chicken feet. [Guardian]

Upstate New York Gets an Official Regional Food Trail

The "Upstate Eats Trail" guides travelers via regional dishes like Buffalo wings, salt potatoes, and garbage plates.

New York City may garner much of the glory when it comes to the state&aposs dining scene. After all, the metropolis is home to dozens of name-droppable restaurants and the most Michelin stars in the nation. But as we all know, every corner of the country has its own local dishes and traditions that can be just as delightful to track down as a coveted Manhattan reservation. From Buffalo to Binghamton, cities and towns a few hours northwest of the Big Apple have their own food cultures, and they&aposre finally being connected with the official Upstate Eats Trail.

Launched this week, the 225-mile trail connects four of the bigger cities in the Western and Central New York regions𠅋inghamton, Buffalo, Rochester, and Syracuse𠅊nd explores the dishes that locals have adopted or originated, "culinary traditions going back generations to a time when the region boomed with the opening of the Erie Canal and the flood of immigrants who followed," the website explains.

The trek isn&apost necessarily limited to those cities, with some smaller towns and stops highlighted. The trail follows a chain of "regional restaurants, roadside stands, corner taverns, diners and ice cream shops" as curated in a collaboration between those four main cities&apos tourism organizations.

So what can one expect to eat along the way? You&aposll be stopping for the well-traveled Buffalo-style chicken wings at the famed Anchor Bar, Syracuse&aposs salt potatoes at Bull & Bear Roadhouse, Binghamton&aposs chicken spiedies (skewer-cooked meat sandwiches) at Lupo&aposs S & S Char Pit, and Rochester&aposs infamous garbage plate at Nick Tahou Hots, a whole mess of potatoes or fries, macaroni salad, hot dogs, hamburger patties, and condiments (that, as a former Central New York-area college student myself, I can confidently confirm epitomizes the term "drunk food"). Don&apost forget frozen custard, beef on weck, hot pies, barbecue, cup and char pizza (AKA &aposroni cups), white hots, snappy grillers, and sponge candy.

Cacio Cheese and Pepper Spaghetti, Flavored with Rosebuds

La Terrazza, Hotel Eden Rome

Dish created by Chef Fabio Ciervo

Ingredients (serves 4)
11oz of spaghetti
1 cup of light chicken broth
½ cup grated cacio cheese
Pinch of edible rosebuds
Large pinch of black pepper of Madagascar
2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil

For the rose infusion, heat the chicken broth up to 60 C, add the rosebuds in infusion for 4/5 minutes and filtrate with a strainer. For the sauce, heat the olive oil in a pan, add the pepper, previously crushed in a mortar, and then add the broth. It is now time to proceed with cooking the pasta. Add the pasta, cooked al dente, to the sauce and keep on cooking at low fire. Now that pasta is ready, add pecorino cheese, extra virgin olive oil and using a fork, mix until it’s creamy. End the dish with a dust of freshly crushed pepper.

The Times’s Jenny Gross writes:

The highly acclaimed Manhattan restaurant Eleven Madison Park said on Monday that it would no longer serve meat or seafood when it reopens next month, becoming one of the most high-profile restaurants to switch to a plant-based menu because of environmental concerns.

Daniel Humm, the chef and an owner, said in a statement on the restaurant’s website, “It was clear that after everything we all experienced this past year, we couldn’t open the same restaurant.”

Mr. Humm said that the coronavirus pandemic, which led to closure and layoffs, had forced the restaurant’s leaders to reimagine its future. “We have always operated with sensitivity to the impact we have on our surroundings,” he said, “but it was becoming ever clearer that the current food system is simply not sustainable, in so many ways.”

Mr. Humm said that the kitchen had spent its days developing new dishes and meat and dairy alternatives, like plant-based milks, butters and creams, flavorful vegetable broths and stocks, and fermented foodstuffs.

Eleven Madison Park’s decision to reinvent its menu, reported Monday by The Wall Street Journal, is potentially a risk for the Michelin-starred restaurant, which was known for dishes like lavender honey-glazed duck, lobster and Hawaiian prawn roulade.

Eleven Madison Park was awarded four stars by The New York Times, three Michelin stars and the No. 1 spot on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list in 2017. The restaurant will continue to offer milk for coffee and tea, meaning it will not be entirely vegan, Mr. Humm said.

But the move comes as prominent restaurants and publications have shifted toward plant-based recipes, sometimes to critical applause.

“What at first felt limiting began to feel freeing, and we are only scratching the surface,” he said. “All this has given us the confidence to reinvent what fine dining can be.”

After a pandemic pause, Michelin will resume awarding stars to restaurants

A common refrain when describing the gradual return to pre-pandemic normalcy is that “nature is healing.” One sign that things are getting back to the way they were: You’ll soon be seeing stars again — at least of the Michelin variety.

The venerable dining guide of more than a century had taken a break from awarding its coveted stars last fall as covid hit the hospitality industry. Restaurants reeled as cities and states shut down indoor dining or limited dine-in capacity. Many shifted to takeout only, while others closed.

But Michelin on Wednesday announced it would resume operations, and in the coming weeks it will announce starred restaurants in New York, Chicago and Washington, D.C., and designate others in those cities as its Bib Gourmand picks, a list deemed by the guide’s inspectors to be good values, and “Plates,” a sort of entry-level distinction.

It will also give out “Green stars” for restaurants that operate sustainably and dole out accolades to individual chefs and sommeliers.

So just how did the company’s famed anonymous inspectors evaluate an industry turned upside down?

“We have been quite benevolent without compromising on the methodology,” Gwendal Poullennec, the guide’s international director, said in an interview.

The company’s chief inspector for North America, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the nature of his job, said he and other inspectors dined much like many other Americans have: often on patios, masked, separated from fellow diners by plexiglass — and in many cases, very well. He stayed in touch with restaurants about changes to their menus and concepts during the pandemic, he noted.

“It was interesting to see the changes,” he said, “But at end of day, it was interesting to see chefs continuing to put out a high quality of product.”

Michelin dubbed its three-city re-rollout “Still Serving,” an homage to those eateries that have survived the pandemic. Not all are so lucky: The National Restaurant Association estimates that 110,000 establishments around the country have closed temporarily or for good. Many Michelin-starred restaurants in particular have suffered from the lack of international business and tourism. Michelin estimates that 80 percent of its starred restaurants remain open.

The doling-out of stars might be highly anticipated in normal times, but some say it’s unfair now to turn a critical eye to restaurants, which are hardly operating at their best. Many other dining guides and accolades have pivoted. The James Beard Foundation decided against declaring winners of its 2020 prestigious awards to restaurants and chefs, and said it wouldn’t give them out in 2021, either. “The Foundation believes the assignment of Awards will do little to further the industry in its current uphill battle,” the organization said at the time.

Three stars

‘Exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey!’, according to the Michelin Guide. Three stars are awarded to only the very best restaurants, with only 137 restaurants worldwide currently attaining this highest of all badges of achievement.

Three-star restaurants offer the ultimate in fine dining and are run by chefs recognised the world over for their contribution to the culinary arts. These restaurants are as good as it gets, offering a once-in-a-lifetime dining experience, and are always in high demand.

All three-star restaurants are notable in their own way, but the restaurant that has held onto the accolade for the longest is Les Prés d'Eugénie, which was first awarded three stars in 1977, and has been creating world-leading food ever since. Les Prés d'Eugénie is owned by chef patron Michel Guérard, one of the founders of nouvelle cuisine and his wife Christine, and forms part of a spa complex in the small French town of Eugénie-les-Bains. Guérard is one of France’s best-known chefs, and his signature dishes include Tsarina egg with caviar Soft Pillow of Morels and Wild Mushrooms and Lobster Lightly Smoked in the Hearth. Find out all the three-star michelin restaurants in the world.


Restaurants can receive one to three Michelin stars, and it’s important to remember that even one Michelin star is considered an honor. A one-star review is not meant to criticize a restaurant’s dishes, but rather to praise them.

The star ratings are defined as follows:

  • One star: The restaurant is considered very good in its category but is limited in some way. This restaurant has a quality menu and prepares cuisine to a consistently high standard, but it may lack a unique element that would bring people back over and over again.
  • Two stars: The restaurant has excellent cuisine delivered in a unique way. This restaurant has something exceptional to offer and is worth a detour to visit while traveling.
  • Three stars: The restaurant has exceptional cuisine and is worth a special trip just to visit. Rather than being a stop on the way to a destination, this restaurant is the destination. This restaurant serves distinct dishes that are executed to perfection.

Michelin’s reviewers (called “inspectors”) are completely anonymous and must share a passion for food and an eye for detail. Inspectors are prohibited from speaking to journalists, and are encouraged to keep their line of work secret even from family members.

When an inspector visits a restaurant, he or she writes a comprehensive report about the dining experience, including factors such as the quality of the food, the presentation of the dishes and the mastery of culinary techniques (while ignoring elements such as décor, table setting and quality of service). The inspectors then come together to discuss the reviews and decide which restaurants should receive stars.

Aquavit (Midtown East)
Atera (Tribeca)
Atomix (Gramercy)
Aska (Williamsburg)
Blanca (Fort Greene)
Blue Hill at Stone Barns (Westchester)
Daniel (Upper East Side)
Gabriel Kreuther (Midtown West)
Ichimura at Uchū (Lower East Side)
Jean-Georges (Upper West Side)
Jungsik (Tribeca)
Ko (East Village)
L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon (Chelsea)
The Modern (Midtown West)

NYC Restaurants Score First Michelin Star Despite Covid-19 Restrictions

Eleven Madison Park, with Daniel Humm as its chef and owner, kept its Michelin three stars even though it has remained closed throughout the pandemic.

Charles Passy

The pandemic has posed countless challenges for restaurants in the New York metropolitan area, which have had to adapt and pivot in myriad ways to survive.

For a small number of the area’s thousands of dining spots, the struggle has now yielded a reward: a much-coveted star rating in the latest New York City and Westchester County Michelin Guide.

Michelin officials announced the rankings Thursday for the 2021 edition of the guide. Five restaurants in the area were awarded three stars, the highest honor. Another 14 received two stars, and 49 were recognized with a single star.

The annual announcement of the recipients was made several months later than usual because of the pandemic, Michelin officials said. They added that most of the recognized restaurants were visited just prior to or during the pandemic. In certain instances, restaurants were honored based on their track record before the current guide’s evaluation cycle, officials said.

The list of three-star honorees remained unchanged from the 2020 edition and included the long-established restaurants Eleven Madison Park, Per Se, Masa, Le Bernardin and Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare.

New York’s Famed Michelin Master Opens Plant-Based Restaurant in the City

“Chef’s have a huge virtue to shift the public’s focus on what they see as a delicious meal. It doesn’t have to be a four-legged animal.” These are the powerful worlds of Michelin-starred restaurateur Justin Bazdarich. In this eye-opening interview with VEGWORLD, he recounts his journey stepping away from academic instruction, finding his calling in the restaurant business, and the inspiration behind his new plant-based eatery- Xilonen, alongside Chef de cuisine Alan Delgado. Nestled in the lively neighborhood of Greenpoint in Brooklyn, Xilonen seeks to offer delectable dishes that pay homage to the Aztec cuisine’s humble yet revered corn crop!

VW: You’ve had great experiences traveling the world alongside your mentor Jean-Georges Vongerichten and moving on to opening reputable restaurants in the city! How has that journey led you to start a plant-based restaurant?

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JB: The restaurants I’ve worked on and have opened typically reflect foods I would want to eat. Accessibility and taste were first and foremost drivers. Once my wife got pregnant with our son, she became averse to eating meat. I joined her in this switch and we started to eat more plant-forward meals, which I viewed as a creative challenge. Most chefs find it easy to simply pick a protein and base a plate around that. Why not do the same thing but with plants? In the process, I began learning about the devastation that consuming animals is causing to our planet. From an ethical space, I didn’t want to contribute to the destruction of rainforests for the sake of rearing an inefficient food source. We went from a household that ate animal protein everyday, to consuming meat barely once a week. I clued in on that experience and noticed that most vegan restaurants in the city served either salads and quinoa bowls, or “vegan junk foods.” There were barely any accessible spots that championed whole plants in more familiar, craveable dishes like tacos. Since I’m in the habit of creating the kinds of restaurants I would love to dine in, Xilonen came into fruition! I also re-enrolled as a Sustainability student at Arizona State University and hope to incorporate what I learn in my restaurants.

VW: How do you feel culinary schools are catering to training chefs in vegan cooking?

JB: I feel that larger culinary institutes might not include as much emphasis on vegan cooking as they should. Perhaps they could be cluing in that the times are changing. When I was being trained, animal proteins were always the center of the dish. Plants were either garnishes or sides. Serving vegetarians during my early restaurant days was usually viewed as a hassle but the trends are changing. I’m sure there are smaller specialty courses that focus on vegan and vegetarian cooking. However, I believe that for the future of our planet and from a sustainability standpoint, chefs have to be trained not to rely solely on animal products to showcase their skills. Based on my experience, translating those techniques to plant foods can work wonders!

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VW: As you delved into veg-forward cooking, did you feel daunted by the learning curve, or was the process unexpectedly easy?

JB: There was definitely a learning curve with getting familiar with the different flavor profiles. Figuring out how to recreate the flavors and textures of common items like cheese and smoky meats using only plants called for quite a bit of trial and error. At the end of the day, plants are no longer relegated to appetizers and sides. Instead, we started asking how a potato or a carrot can be the star of the dish. Take Xilonen for example- we want to center plants in Mexican cuisine while acknowledging the restaurant’s inspiration- the Aztec Goddess of Young Corn. Our flavorful corn tortillas become the vehicle to deliver the delicious, complex flavors of whole plants and a variety of innovative culinary techniques. If anything, it was a fun, creative endeavor and we learned a lot!

VW: In your opinion, how do you think the restaurant businesses are receiving the demand for vegan options?

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JB: I can speak from my experiences at my restaurants. I’d say that after “What are your hours of operation?”, our next frequently asked question is “Do you have a lot of vegan options?”. There are more people eating that way and if we are not offering these options, then it’s difficult for businesses to please groups. If there’s a group of six people, and two are vegan, they’re not coming if there aren’t options for them. From a purely business perspective, it’s only wise to offer a variety of vegan options for your customers. I personally see the trend towards plant-based cuisine as a positive, which more businesses are becoming aware of.

VW: What are your thoughts on France’s first ever Vegan Michelin Star award? Is this recognition important in the food industry?

JB: It’s exciting that vegan restaurants are gaining positive attention. There really isn’t any denying that veganism is the future. As one who has dramatically changed his eating habits from mostly animal products to a plant-rich one, I feel that others shouldn’t be far behind! We shouldn’t have to rely on animals and their by-products to make great food. In fact, treating vegetables in a similar way can accomplish the same things- texture, and flavor wise. Michelin also awards restaurants for sustainability efforts. A sustainability nod from Michelin in the future would be awesome for Xilonen!

VW: We love how mission-driven the business model is! Do you foresee yourselves possibly including the animal ethics aspect as well?

JB: For sure! It’s something I think about often and feel we can certainly do. I’d say at Xilonen, we’re almost there- dinners are 100% vegan and we also plan to do a vegan tasting menu. There are only a couple of lunch items that include egg. Perhaps we can experiment with the new vegan egg replacements that are available and see how they work in our recipes!

VW: Some chefs with “traditional” training might not be as willing to embrace vegan cooking. How would you advise shifting this mindset?

JB: I think with more people realizing how shifting away from animals and towards a plant-rich lifestyle benefits their health and the planet, the demand for eating animal protein at restaurants is going to decline. If chefs aren’t willing to cater to the shift in demand, they will be left behind. There are going to be more people going vegan than vice versa, and with that alone as a metric, we need to be embracing change to stay relevant in the business.

That being said, this year I plan to work on a Chef Collaborative Initiative, which enables and empowers other chefs to come together and work on a plant rich menu metric. This entails a gradual shift away from an animal product- centric menu, and designating a set percentage of options to be vegan and vegetarian. If I can get more restaurants to embrace this decrease in meat consumption, it would be an outstanding move in the right direction for the well-being of our planet!

VW: That’s a wonderful initiative and we hope more chefs hop on board! Moving on to the remarkable food you’re creating, which menu item are you most proud of?

JB: We’re doing some chorizos that we sought to recreate the “ground beef” texture in. We tried a blend of ground tofu, pecans, and mushrooms that we cooked together in some spices. We perfected the crispy texture and amazing flavors of the cuisine! Now we use it in our crispy tacos. We also do a great chorizo quesadilla with cheese from Numu cheese– a local vegan cheese company. The cheese melts really well and tastes great with many of our dishes! We top off our quesadilla- grilled to perfection, with a black bean and avocado salsa. Definitely a favorite of mine and our customers! It’s important to me that these creations are not viewed as “fake meats” or a “meat alternative”. Rather, they are their own dish with the familiar flavors and textures we love. The beloved chorizo quesadilla could be worth a trip to Brooklyn!

VW: Is there any ingredient that you’ve been amazed by and wouldn’t have become aware of if not for your foray into vegan cooking?

JB: That’s a hard one! I guess I’ll have to say it’s the corn that we source from Mexico from an importer named “TAMOA”. We made it a priority to source our products from their cultural origins and support businesses that pay their workers fair wages. I believe that reflects in the quality of corn we receive, and the same applies to our fair-trade coffee and chocolate suppliers. Sustainably, and ethically sourced ingredients add to what makes our food so special!

VW: That sounds divine and we cannot wait to visit one day! To wrap up with a final question- If you had to invite a Michelin-starred or celebrity chef to dine at Xilonen and open an all-vegan restaurant, whom would you pick?

JB: I’d probably pick my mentor Chef Jean-Georges. Granted he does have ABCV, which though not entirely vegan, is still plant-forward. He has always been an inspiration and I would love to see what he could do with an all-vegan menu. That would be really great!

We hope Justin’s passion to transform our current food system for a healthier future on this planet inspires more chefs to tap into their creativity and celebrate whole plant foods in their dishes. When in NYC, be sure to dine at Xilonen and check out Justin’s other eateries- Speedy Romeo, and the Michelin- starred Oxomoco! -->

Watch the video: How a Master Chef Runs a 2 Michelin Star Nordic Restaurant in Brooklyn Mise En Place

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