Sunday, April 5, 2009

My New Arch-Nemesis: "Dissident Chef"

An old chef friend of mine sent me a link to this video, featuring the Dissident Chef, and his Clandestine Restaurant Movement. I thought I suffered from some serious delusions of grandeur, but this dude's in another league.

My favorite line: "It’s your choice whether you want to let the rest of the world know we exist - it's a great opportunity for a lot of people to really start to learn about what real dining is about."
Take that, chefs that use your real names!

I'll resist the immediate temptation to "critique" this video, and its not-so-mysterious, sky-diving, cocktail-drinking, secret-password-giving chef/prophet mastermind - and will instead let you tell me, in your typically fair and balanced way, what you think of this.

By the way, since I'm assuming this video is really some sort of desperate cry to be outed, if you know the identity of Dissident Chef and his band of merry faux-foodie hipsters, please do tell.



Photo (c) Dissident Chef

52 comments:

jonknee said...

It would be a lot easier to keep a secret by not shooting a TV show about it.

Chef John said...

yeah, that's what I was thinking. It's like hey, tell everyone you know not to tell anyone.

dansblv said...

asides from being really arrogant, what exactly is your problem with this guy? i mean it sounds like a cool enough idea.

Connie said...

The stuff he bragged about didn't look all that good to me.

Anonymous said...

He's too cute ...(but not as cute as you, Chef John!)
I especially liked the part where he tasted the sauce then shook the spoon off back in the pan. Great technique, got to keep that under wraps, don't want anyone else copying that!
Luisa Vacaville

Chef John said...

no problem with him at all, I hope he makes millions. I like my Arch-Nemeses easy to mock, and this guy's a dream come true. I hope he starts mocking my stuff (secretly, of course)

BigAl said...

Good news - your arch nemisis may also be a neighbor:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zHPJYI1F8L8

You could infiltrate his secret lair if you wanted to. . .

Chef John said...

LOL, that didn't take long! Well, looks like I need a new arch-nemesis already.

granny said...

Who cleans up after this guy after he cooks? His work area was a mess.

TikiPundit said...

To me, it's a sort of Ueber-cliche thing, for those bored of scoring seats in the latest, hottest resto. In and of itself, it's as dull as chasing that latest, hottest resto.

The marketed exclusivity of it is more obnoxious than the exclusiveness of the concept.

And of course, that the concept is marketed means that some mohawked genius will have to think of the next great thing, which might be:

*Unpasteurized Milk Maids Gone Wild!
*Foie Gras Follies! or, La Cage au Foie!
*Blowfish Bordello!
*Super-Secret Siam Satay: The Monkey Session!
*Secret Super-Egos on Parade: Those Passive-Aggressive Bay Area Chefs
*Chilaquiles, Pork Belly and Viagra: What Serious Eats Won't Show You on TV!
*Cheap, Replaceable Pans: The Seamy Side of Anthony Bourdet

The possibilities of viral-marketing a supposedly secret concept are really endless. Think up your own! Me, I'm thinking the CIA (the spooky people, not the cooking people) could recruit spies through a technique like our mohawked maestro used.

Chef John said...

Jeez, take it easy... I'm going to have to start defending him now.

Anonymous said...

What is faux graw? and why would it be outlawed?

Anonymous said...

That was a bit too much reality tv for me. I like the learning experience i get out of cooking shows. There wasn't enough information. Just little tidbits.

Sky Peace said...

I really think that truly and really good dining should also be the most simply and easily enjoyed. A few twists here and there to keep things interesting are welcome, but it's an entirely different story if I have to make ten phone calls to get the password to a location where I'll eat secretly...no thanks.

Bigfoot said...

And this makes for a better dining experience how?

I'm over it.

Jaime said...

And this makes for a better dining experience how?

Chanelle said...

Wow how pretentious, I would pay not to eat at this guys oh so special restaurant. Sorry if that comes across too harsh but sheesh! He needs to get over himself.

Anonymous said...

Maybe I'm a niave foodie, but Why are some of these dishes "illegal" in some states--do they come from china? I also find it lame filming yourself doing 'illegal' activities, it must be some kind of nutritional defect that makes people think they are 'cool' instead of a fool. If he really wanted to introduce people to what he calls 'fine dining' or good food, then he open a bistro of his own. But the fact that he doesn't seem to have a job or credentials as a chef somewhere except in his own mind and ego makes him just another poser in my book. The real chef to admire at this website is Chef John.

Anonymous said...

Whats up with 72 hrs @ 130? Sous Vide sounds interesting, very moist and tender, but isn't that holding it at the upper end of the danger zone for like 3 days? Why would the health department have a problem with that?

There was one of these underground restaurants in the Seattle area, and it was so 'secret' that it was featured on Bourdain's "no reservations" a year or so ago.

The legit part of the their business was an adult ed, hands on cooking school that I liked very much. They served several glasses of wine with the classes for years without a problem. Then one day the powers that be decided that could no longer happen without a permit. There is some thought that the regulators re-thought out policy on wine may be some degree of retribution for flaunting the mobile, uninspectable, unpermitted, non tax paying dining establishment.

The power struggle between the regulators and the business began. And it's ended how you would expect. I never made it to the secret restaurant.(I'm just not that into molecular gastronomy, or trout flavor marshmallows.) However I learned that bacon ice-cream works for me, and I will miss the now defunct cooking school.

Chef John said...

FYI: my underground dining sources tell me he does have skills and has held "real" jobs before. I think we shall give him the benefit of the doubt regarding his cooking since we can't taste it. There is plenty of other stuff to kid him about!

Asian Malaysian said...

No permits, licensing, regulations, full time staff, overhead or fixed venue. Who knew that most asian street food hawkers were at the cutting edge of cuisine? Next time I end up cooking dinner for a bunch of friends at another friend's apartment, I'll make everyone pay a share of the groceries and call it undergound dining. Without having personally handed me a cold beer (or at least offered to do so), you'll never get to taste my terribl-uhm-unique renditions of Chef John's recipes. Thats just how we roll here in the asian underground.

milkshake said...

one of these days SWAT team will come to nail this perp - with the explosive entry through the kitchen wall. Chef, you mentioned that you know bunch of people in the law enforcement...

milkshake said...

the whole pretense about buying a super-fresh sea bass three days before the secret dinner party is most likely a baloney. I bet he likes to serve sweetbreads, dark opulent ragout, liver with fava beans and big Amarone

Scott - Boston said...

I checked out BigAl's link above. Funny. The Chef mentions that he has an "amazing business plan." Now, I've been working for a non-profit company for the last 18 years... How the hell did his Groveling For Money file end up in the Amazing Business Plan folder? I hate when that happens... Oh sorry, I mean: It's "amazing" when that happens.

Scott - Boston

Don Madrid said...

Somewhere between a b-list pro wrestler and some kind of annoying salesperson.

Wish he would just shut up.

Chef John said...

Yeah, I hate people that grovel for money using videos... that reminds me, can you guys donate some money?

Anonymous said...

Nothing new here. The Ghetto Gourmet (http://www.theghet.com) began doing this in the Bay Area in 2004 - even appeared on the front page of the Chron at one point. Multi-city events at its high point. Gave lesser known chefs and line cooks an opportunity to shine.

Sam said...

I guess my little mind that doesn't know what real dining is also doesn't understand what's going on here. First of all, if you want it to be a secret, why did you invite the world to come? Second of all, why would anyone wear their hair like that? Third of all, if he's wanting to buy food so fresh, why is he buying it 2-3 days before the event, wouldn't you want to buy it that morning?

Sam said...

Also, I wonder if he puts a warning on the menu about the sous vide? Supposedly if it's not done in a precise manner there is a high risk of botulism, is that true?

Chef John said...

there can be, but most of those risks (like raw eggs, etc) are over-blown. After seeing the things I've seen in kitchens, it can't be that common since there would be corpses laying all over the city.

Birder said...

What. A pretentious. Douche.

Chef John said...

pretentious?? You're the one using French!

Carmine said...

Oh sure. I'll bet the purveyors are just lining up to do business with this fast-talking, law-skirting self promoter with no permanent location. He sums it all in the last statement: "we may be here today or gone tomorrow.” Yep, a true creditors dream.

Stephanie said...

These comments and the haters are hilarious.

It looks like a lot of fun, I bet he is full of tips and tricks someone in the business would appreciate.

Obviously the "hush hush" is THE advertising.

I wouldn't mind following him around for a month or so.

Chef John said...

If your lucky he may let you pack his chute.

Basia said...

Dear Anonymous

I agree! I SCREAMED when he plopped the tasing spoon's leftovers back into the pan.

Anonymous 2

"faux graw" is fois gras, and is produced through seriously abusing geese or ducks via force feeding. It's also amazingly delicious. I'm conflicted.

Anonymous 4

Regulations require specific methods of cooking designed to prevent health risks (like "under cooking" by holding something at too low a temp so bacteria actually grow instead of being killed. This is why I can't get sous vide without bringing a lawyer along.)

OK - I'm going on too long. Sorry, Chef. I'm with you. I wish the guy had done all this in a Mexican wrestler's mask.

Chef John said...

"Mexican wrestler's mask." Yes!! that would have been perfect!

Steve said...

hmmm.....
I think its genius. I mean, he seems to have found a way to have his own restaurant with out a lease/ mortgage/ health inspection.....

I guess its kinda cool that its all about the food.

Adam Schlozman said...

Did they just go through a dave brubeck album for the soundtrack of this video?

Chris said...

This video is a bit dated, since the foie gras ban was repealed in Chicago last year. A lot of restaurants ignored it anyway. Storm in a teacup stuff. Yawn.

He's not doing anything amazing, just exclusive. It's a rave party for foodies. But beyond the narcissism there's an interesting question: what is "real dining?"

Is "real dining" at the heart of a technique like sous vide? Is it an exclusive subculture? An attitude?

I think Frank Black said it best:

"every thing was fine down here
what you call it here
call it what you will here
way down down down in this subbacultcha"

Birder said...

I'm allowed! I'm from Quebec. Please don't think I'm gauche.

Chef John said...

are u guys still putting gravy on your fries?

Anonymous said...

A 10-second Google search (+"sub culture dining" +"san francisco") nets you quick results:

http://www.yelp.com/biz/subculture-dining-san-francisco

Johnny said...

Looks like the Diss came out of the closet. His name is Russell Jackson:

http://www.bizjournals.com/sanfrancisco/stories/2008/06/16/story6.html

Anonymous said...

This guy may cook, but I think he spends a lot of time in front of mirrors, preening. I work in Hollywood and I see actors , usually not very good ones, full of their own fabulousness like this guy. What's next... eye liner?

Do-Maura-rigatou said...

I think it's all a tad pretentious. If only we could all be so cultured. Maybe one day I can be a snob too.

Anonymous said...

Hey Chef John, will you cook something in a bag and make a video about it please? You did the sourdough vids and they took several days too...

M said...

Haha! I'm laughing out loud...

CJ, this is the most fun I've had on your site! (Except for that one time I learned how to made cheese.) Keep it up! :)

troy said...

looks like he had a regular place in 2005.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pw40LFAE8C8&feature=channel

Anonymous said...

It is very interesting for me to read this article. Thanx for it. I like such themes and anything that is connected to this matter. I would like to read more soon.

Amanda said...

I actually know EXACTLY who this is, I used to sell products to him, but I think the company that I worked for then no longer sells to him because of issues regarding money he owed them, I dont know the whole story but I guarantee you he is exactly the way you think he is, I wont say his full name here but if you want to know you can email me lol

anaileliana said...

What video is it you all are talking about? I looked him up on YouTube and can't find any videos that are very long or show him doing things like tasting food and putting the spoon back in the sauce... Seems fun to eat in an unknown location and mystery courses but they overcharge! There was a video of him on CBS Eye On the Bay where they feed 4 people with only $20! And the donations are crazy! Up to $500!!! That would only be worth it if Chef John were the chef and you could help out with the cooking!!!!!!