When it comes to restaurants, San Francisco and New York have had a long simmering battle over whose cuisine reigns supreme. The battle last heated up when Momofuku's David Chang famously said that "F**kin' every restaurant in San Francisco is just serving figs on a plate. Do something with your food." And now the gauntlet has been thrown down again. San Francisco Chronicle critic Michael Bauer this morning answered a reader's question about why there weren't more New York restaurateurs by the Bay and he basically said our chefs are too chicken to cook in SF.
Maybe he didn't call us chicken in so many words, but he thinks we're just afraid of competition:
Mario Batali, one of New York’s most successful chef/restaurateurs who has places in Las Vegas and Los Angeles and worked for a time in San Francisco , once told me he would never open a restaurant here. The competition is too stiff, he said. It makes sense that chefs would pick the low-hanging fruit, going to cities that have a less formidable dining culture. ... San Francisco has never much cottoned to one-, two- or three-offs. Out-of-towners who have been successful have generally come up with different concepts, such as Wolfgang Puck at Postrio and Drew Nieporent at Rubicon. We’re a little provincial, a little smug about our homegrown talent, and a little less enthralled with big-name chefs who garner fame elsewhere and then bring a concept here.
And for what it is worth, it is true. There are very few New York chefs opening up outposts by the Bay (with at least one notable exception). But maybe the reason isn't so much the competition as it is the cost? Thanks to its worker-friendly laws (mandatory health care for servers, servers must be paid full minimum wage) San Francisco is a very expensive place to run a restaurant. But still, New York chefs? We can't let this insult slide. Before you start plotting the opening for that new outpost in Rockaway, maybe consider one in the Mission? [via Eater]