South By Southwest greatly expanded their food programming track this year, bringing in big name chefs, pioneering artisans and farmers, and food startup founders to talk the future of food and technology. Eater zeroed in on the chef and restaurant panels, which took on everything from the role of restaurants in urban planning to making to announcing a new chicken sandwich concept. Here's the fifteen best quotes (in no particular order) from three days of deep food nerdery.
1) David Chang of Momofuku on his growing love of approachable food: "Chefs all want to make David Lynch's Blue Velvet. But who wants to watch that all the time?"
2) David Chang on the "sameness" the Internet has imposed on food culture: "I believe the next great restaurant won't use the internet. The chef won't be looking at what everyone else is doing. The internet prevents error. But what's sacrificed is the process of fucking up."
3) Adam Rapoport, editor in chief of Bon Appetit, on the reaction to Bobby Flay appearing at an event: "When Bobby Flay comes out, people freak the fuck out. It’s like Paul McCartney just walked out."
4) Rapoport on the canceled Googa Mooga festival in Brooklyn in 2013: "Can I say it was a disaster? These are the guys who do Bonnaroo so they know what they’re doing. Even though sometimes if you know what you’re doing, you get a little cocky about it, it just backfired."
5) Aaron Franklin of Franklin Barbecue on the only reason he uses Twitter: "If I'm not in the restaurant, I use Twitter to check on pictures of the food."
6) Aaron Franklin on the perils of zealous internet fans: "People were asking the Franklin Barbecue Line Twitter account questions about the restaurant instead of us. We had to reach out to coordinate with him."
7) Sean Brock of Husk on the value of food halls: "Every city needs a Chelsea Market, a delicious playground you don't want to leave."
8) Paul Qui, chef/owner of Qui and East Side King, on turning the notion of building a restaurant around a menu: "I didn’t have a menu. I built a kitchen that could be moved around and I ended up changing the concept. Basically went through five restaurant concepts in a year."
9) Questlove of The Roots on experience a life-altering meal at Sukiyabashi Jiro: "I wanted to eat his food on my birthday which at that time was seven months away." He worked out many deals in order to score the coveted reservation, even though "the cats from Radiohead walked in and got a seat." He was nervous, but the meal blew him away. "That was the moment where I realized that food is not only an art, but it’s also a narrative because the story that [Jiro Ono] told me without speaking words."
10) Michael Muser, general manager at Grace, on not understanding how Michelin stars work: "[Curtis Duffy, chef at Grace] has no idea why he got three Michelin stars and I don’t know either. Was it the service? Was it the food? Was it this? Was it that? You don’t know anything, so it pins you to this horrible place of complete paranoia."
11) Muser on having a quiet kitchen: "When a guest looks back into our kitchen, they are to see organization, refinement, cleanliness, readiness, and preparedness. Because if you did look back into our kitchen and [Gordon] Ramsay was running around, smacking people, and there was fire going, how would that showcase to our clients that we were prepared for you?"
12) Jessamyn Rodriguez, CEO and founder of Hot Bread Kitchen, on why her nonprofit centers on bread: "Bread is something that is universal. Most countries in the world have a staple bread or at least a staple starch that anchors the diet, so the messaging works well, but the reality of it is I think we’ve been successful because we really focused on this one product."
13) Jonathan Gold, Los Angeles-based food critic, on the plethora of reviews on Yelp, Chowhound: "There’s a glorious noise of specialists."
14) Alison Cook, Houston Chronicle food critic, on what she termed "foodola" (free meals for media): "Just don’t take freebies because there’s a transaction that’s implied when you accept free food and hospitality from somebody. It’s a kind of schilling. It’s completely without a value or a critical framework."
15) Gold on reviewing Olive Garden on a lark: "I wanted to like it so much. Can you imagine what kind of a hit that would have? A major critic loving The Olive Garden?"