How To Figure Out If You’re Dating the Kid of a Celebrity

Right before Christmas I met a boy in a bar. He was tall, adorable, and we immediately started chatting about music. Before the night came to an end, we exchanged information and he took my phone to add me as a friend on Facebook. When I noticed his last name, one that isn’t very common, I laughed and jokingly asked if he was the son of the celebrity with the same last name. His response was abrupt and strange: “No. I fucking hate that guy.” Um, OK.

The celebrity in question would not evoke such a response from anyone. Unless, of course, they knew him intimately and, for a fact, that he’s absolute shit. His on-air persona, although sometimes aloof and douchy, does not make one hate him. It just doesn’t. It was when I asked him what his dad did a couple weeks later that I was able to know for sure. Even then he didn’t say who his dad was; it was just obvious at that point. Maybe he doesn’t know that his father is pretty much a legend in our generation, or maybe he just doesn’t give a fuck.

I let it go. I don’t care who is father is; it has zero effect on how I feel about him. But some people do care about this shit. True star-fuckers, if they can’t score the celebrity, will take the offspring if they can.

As someone who has more than a few friends who have found themselves dating the kids or step-kids of celebrities, unless the kid is a show-off asshole, it’s virtually impossible to know exactly from where the person came. The only time the truth comes out is when you show up for a family dinner and find yourself across from say, Michael Douglas, and you’re forced to play it cool. Michael Douglas was in Romancing the Stone! You can’t be cool around that!

So, how do you know? Whether it’s for family dinner preparation or because you’re a greedy, gold-digging fame whore, there are five easy ways to figure it all out. Because sometimes Google can fail you in these circumstances, especially when you’re dealing with a family that does everything within their power to keep their lives private. (Oh, the famous and their I’m-so-special ways!)

“I fucking hate that guy.” The last name is a dead giveaway, especially if it’s not common. And if you do what I did and jokingly ask if there’s any relation, not thinking for one second there actually is, and the response is something aggressive out of left field, then, well, you’ve got yourself a celebrity’s kid.

Mannerism dissection. A lot of suspicion can be put to bed if you pay attention to mannerisms. Let’s say you’re dating Jack Nicholson’s kid. Now we all know Jack is known for his eyebrows and that Joker-like, crazy grin (even sans Batman make-up), so a lot of questions can be answered if you focus on these details. You’re not staring; you’re appreciating the similarities.

Mild detective skills. If you don’t know what the hell people are talking about when they mention Benson and Stabler, then you need to watch some episodes of Law & Order to truly grasp this maneuver. Where does this person live that you’re dating? Do they just happen to go on a family vacation the same time [celebrity name] was spotted by the paparazzi at the same place? Is their dad “working” at some concert the exact dates that such-and such-band is playing Coachella?

Is their life one of privilege? In NYC, the privileged are a pretty frequent lot. But there’s also a big difference between the privileged and the very privileged. Does this person in question have things in their apartment that others would kill for—like random photos of his mom at Studio 54 with Halston? Did Nirvana play his twelfth birthday? Can he get you into Per Se tonight at 8 PM no problem?

Straight up insult the celebrity in question. Even if the kid is on the outs with their celebrity parents, they won’t put up with someone else talking shit about their mom or dad. Case in point, as proven by a friend of mine: “I was going on and on about how much of a fucking asshole [celebrity name] is. I was criticizing his movies, his style and even his hair, finally D—snapped and exclaimed, ‘that’s my fucking dad! So keep your opinions to yourself.’ I knew it was just a matter of time before he’d have to give up the goods. And his dad does have bad hair.”

Follow Amanda Chatel on Twitter.

Get Down With 2013’s Michelin-Rated Restaurants

This week restaurants around the city celebrated the release of the 2013 Michelin Guide. One of the best features about this prestigious tome is their “good cuisine at reasonable price,” Bib Gourmand section. For the Bib Gourmand, they consider restaurant that offer two courses and a glass of wine or dessert for $40 or less. Here, they don’t offer stars, but getting mentioned in the guide is enough for many eateries. 

“I couldn’t be more excited about our mention in the Michelin guide,” said Speedy Romeo chef and co-owner Justin Bazdarich. “I really see the guide as an honest measure for a restaurant rating, so, it means a lot to me to gain their respect.”

Aside from Speedy Romeo, highlighted this year include Gran Electrica, Pok Pok, and Battersby, which was also voted one of the best new restaurants in America by Bon Appetite magazine. It also appears to be the golden time for Bed-Stuy’s Do or Dine. Not only did chef and co-owner Justin Warner winFood Network Star a couple months ago, but the restaurant has their second notable mention in the Michelin Guide.

In Manhattan, notice went to August, Il Buco Aimentari & Vineria, and Danny Meyer’s Untitled. There were also quite a few Asian places in the guide including Family Recipe, Jin Ramen, Yunnan Kitchen, and Uncle Zhou in Queens. With the one-star awards, the Asian trend continued with Café China, Hakkasan, and Jungsik at the top of the list.

On the higher end of things, three Michelin stars went, unsurprisingly, to eateries including Per Se, Eleven Madison Park, and La Bernardin. There was one astounding twist; out of seven venues, one award went to a non-Manhattan restaurant: Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare. See folks, Brooklyn is rising. Just wait until it’s all outer boroughs and ramen joints.

One NYC-Focused Menu for Eleven Madison Park

Of all the tasting menus in the city, Eleven Madison Park appears to be the best deal. For $195 you get an epic meal created by award winning chef Daniel Humm, at a restaurant that took home their sixth James Beard Award, made the top 10 of the accredited San Pellegrino’s The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, garnered four stars from the New York Times, and received three stars in the Michelin Guide. This isn’t just hype: EMP deserves these accolades.

But, where once you had the option of getting a four-course meal or the tasting menu, starting Labor Day only the $195, four-hour-long meal will be available. The New York Times had the scoop on the story and writer Jeff Gordinier reported that EMP also plans to make the menu New York-focused. “Their vision, too, is all about New York. They want EMP to evolve into a restaurant not just in the city, but about it. Scores of elements of the menu and presentation—like the ceramic bowls and the raw oysters; the sea salt and the leather used in the coasters; and the apple brandy that servers will pour toward the end of the meal—will come from New York-area artisans and artists, distillers and farmers.” The last time I was at EMP, I saw a glimpse of this theme as they served a dessert menu that riffed on New York food. For example, they served a deconstructed cheesecake, sweet and savory black and white cookies, and a miniature egg cream that tasted just like a chocolate orange candy.Gordinier continues in his piece, “It’s all part of a $195-a-head menu—and a risky move to convert the Eleven Madison Park experience into an extravagant, participatory, close-to-four-hour ode to the romance and history of New York.”

Though chancy, for Humm and Will Guidara, his business partner and EMP’s general manage, the  move isn’t completely surprising; Humm has a reputation for going above and beyond. As to whether it will be successful, well, EMP does about 200 covers a night and reservations aren’t easy to come by. So, given that and the fact that it’s still a deal when you compare it to other tasting menus like the $295 one at Per Se, I think the people will still flock to their gilded doors.

The Governor Is In: Colonie Spreads Its Brooklyn Reign in DUMBO

When a group of servers who formally worked at Public got together and opened their first restaurant Colonie, it was gamble to see if people would take the trek to Brooklyn Heights to check out the place. After all, first time restaurateurs Elise Rosenberg, Emelie Kihilstrom, and Tamer Hamawi, were running it. Even before it opened, people were excited, and once they unlocked their doors, it was packed daily. Later, chef Brad McDonald joined the team and a scant year-and-a-half after opening Colonie, the team debuts their third restaurant Governor, which opens in DUMBO today.

“Brad was ready to do something of his own in New York and in his neighborhood,” said Rosenberg. “He had recently moved to DUMBO and was appalled by the lack of dining choices, which is very similar to Colonie’s situation in Brooklyn Heights.”

The new restaurant focuses on foods dear to McDonald’s heart, meaning he takes dishes from his training at Per Se and the famed Noma in Copenhagen.

“We [at Governor] are more creative than Colonie and here it’s more about comfort and innovation without being pretentious,” said Rosenberg. “We want to be the neighborhood restaurant where you can walk in wearing jeans and grab a snack or come in for a full-on tasting menu.”

The tasting menu isn’t in full swing yet, they are after all just opening today. But the regular menu is chock full of options that stem from McDonald’s foraging expeditions and, like the other restaurants, uses local and seasonal ingredients. The space is key too. Located in the Clocktower Building at 15 Main St., Governor boasts 18-foot ceilings that allowed them to add a mezzanine to the restaurant. They are right next to the water and the 60-seat venue has a full bar where they have created a seasonal cocktail list complete with fresh juices.

Now, the team has to see if Governor will garner the same crowds as Colonie and their Mexican restaurant Gran Electrica, also in DUMBO. But, if it takes after its namesake,Robert Gair, who was nicknamed Governor and who the building was erected in honor of oh so long ago, it will be strong and good. 

David Santos’s Not-So-Secret Supper Club

What’s a chef to do when numerous, unsatisfying jobs leave him down? Open his own supper club, of course. After David Santos left his last restaurant, Hotel Griffou in 2011, he decided he wasn’t going back to that world unless the job was really worth it. Instead, he started running an 18-seat supper club called Um Segredo (which is Portuguese for “it’s a secret) in his Roosevelt Island home. Santos brings skills from his training at Per Se, Ryland Inn in New Jersey, and Bouley, and mixes it with food from his Portuguese roots and whatever theme he has decided on for that series of dinners. Past meals have centered on truffles, breakfast for dinner, and everything duck. The next series on July 5 and 6 deal with American classics, and then, for July 12 and 13 he does an ode to summer. At $55 to $95 for a five-plus course meal and a BYOB policy, it’s high-class meal for the price. After delving his spicy-themed dinner, I caught up with the chef to find out more how he got started and why.

What made you decide to leave your job at Hotel Griffou and start a supper club?
I left Griffou because I got tired of working for the wrong people. People in this business are the kind that smile to your face and stick a knife in your back. That’s what they were there. I told them at one point they were wasting their money, my time, and that it would be better if we just parted ways. They said, “No, no, it’s not like that, we love you and your food.” Then, about a month later someone left an email on my desk from one of the owners’ computer that was a correspondence between him and a couple of the investors that stated they hired another chef and were planning to fire me at the end of August.

I would have had some respect for them if they came at me like men, and I would have understood because the fit just wasn’t there anymore. So, between that fiasco and the 5 & Diamond fiasco, I told myself I wouldn’t just take another job, and, that I was either going to open my own place or get into bed with the right people. Finding that right job proved to be harder then I imagined, but, I stuck to my guns. Finally, I said, “Why the hell can’t I do that sort of thing on my own?” So, Um Segredo was born and I have never been happier.

Would, you ever go back into a commercial kitchen?
The end game for me is a restaurant called Um Segredo. I do this to fulfill my needs and keep my name on peoples’ tongues so that when it comes time to open my place, I will be known.

What are the benefits of cooking at home?
There are a lot of benefits. It’s comfortable and inspiring to be creative in your own home and to push the limit of a home stove is awesome. But the thing that’s best about it is that people have such a great time and their enjoyment is right in front of you. It’s a type of satisfaction I’ve never had before because I’m always stuck in the back working my ass off. It’s really, really nice to be able to see people enjoying my food. Plus, looking at it from a guest’s perspective, where else can you go and chat with the chef who is cooking your meal right in front of you.

How do you come up with themes?
The themes come from a lot of places. Some things are events during that month and some are requests I get. Mostly, I just let my daily life inspire me. I never wear headphones while I’m out on the subway because I’m afraid to miss something interesting and inspiring. I did a bayou menu once because I was watching one of my favorite shows called Swamp People, and the main character was cooking with his family and they were just so happy. So happy that it made me happy and I started smiling thinking about what a great family he has and how they got together around food. It inspired me to create my version of a bayou dinner based on the foods they were eating.

Also, I saw you cook, it’s like nothing happened in that kitchen yet you brought out like five gorgeous courses. How the heck do you stay so clean and cook for all those people?
It’s really about preparation, menu strategy, and leaving the complicated steps for prep. I got a lot of that mentality from Thomas [Keller] and [Jonathan] Benno at Per Se. The actual service at Per Se for me was fairly easy because all you had to do was execute correctly. The hardest part was the prep. But that’s where the battle was won. If you did all your prep right and had everything set the rest was easy.

Is it hard to get people to come to Roosevelt Island to eat?
Sometimes, but I think it’s part of the mystique as well. People get a kick coming out here, but we shall see what the summer holds in store. I might be changing things up quite a bit.

What is there to eat in Roosevelt Island?
There isn’t a ton, but there are some. My two favorite places would be Fuji East and the Riverwalk Bar and Grill. I’m actually teaming up with the guys that own River Walk to do a summer project out here with some of my favorite summer fish dishes. It’s going to be awesome and hopefully bring a lot of attention to the island and how nice it is out here.

Have you had any big name guests?
The editor of Maxim magazine loves us and come to the events; Josh Ozersky came to one of the events and he was a lot of fun to meet. A lot of food people have been out here as far as bloggers and such but nobody like a movie star or anything—yet.

Hotel Griffou’s David Santos Can Taste Summer

David Santos is excited about the heat. One afternoon last week, the Executive Chef at New York’s Hotel Griffou impatiently awaited the arrival of late spring cherries, “jet black and loaded with sugar,” and later strawberries, peaches, and nectarines, which will flavor the many menus he’s planning for the restaurant’s summer season. Santos has a compulsive need to change at least a quarter of his menu every month, especially the most popular dishes, which he sees over and over again while expediting a busy dinner service. “I have menu ADD,” says the 32-year-old. “I’m always very much into a menu when I create it, but soon I start to get bored with it and can’t wait to change it.”

Less than a year ago, Santos left an executive chef position at Harlem’s The 5&Diamond to take control of the kitchen at the decadent, cleverly-designed 1920s-era Hotel Griffou. The restaurant occupies the entire basement floor of the building that was once Madame Griffou’s boarding house, with later incarnations as the infamous Penguin Club and Mary Lou’s.

Nowadays, Santos is focusing on a series of monthly tasting dinners at the restaurant, which allow him to break the bonds of the regular menu and offer his guests a less conventional dining experience. He sees these ever-changing meals as the true vessel for his creative needs. “The tasting dinners are really about me expressing myself,” he admits, “An opportunity to do what I want.”

For an upcoming dinner on June 20th, Chef Santos is planning a “signs of summer” menu with a wine-pairing theme yet to be announced. In the meantime, here he is taking a breather from a busy afternoon of butchering to answer a few questions.

You aspire, like many other New York chefs, to create a seasonal menu. Is it more than a trend? Growing up, my family was very seasonal. When my parents emigrated here from Portugal, they brought with them a part of their lives and culinary traditions. We had a garden with rabbits and pigeons, and we ate what grew there. In the summer we pickled vegetables from the garden. My Mother was a very picky produce shopper and would never buy peaches and nectarines in the winter. The mentality of farm-to-table was installed in me since. That is why the idea of a ‘signature dish’ always seems odd to me because ingredients change. I’m glad to see that restaurants are serving more seasonal things. Food is better when you buy it exactly when it tastes good, and not have it shipped from miles away. I’m also concerned with the whole issue of the carbon footprint on the environment. I drive a Prius

It is hot out today. What are you looking forward to cooking this summer? Summer is my favorite season. Spring is fun because you get tired of braising meats all winter and you finally see something green instead of all those roots, but there’s still not much available in the markets. Summer into fall is really the best time to be a chef, since it’s most versatile. You have sweet corn from Jersey, Peaches and nectarines – its like shooting fish in a barrel.

You mentioned your Portuguese heritage. What are some staples of your childhood kitchen? The one thing we always had in the house was piri piri oil. It went on everything, giving food real character. Grilling is a very prominent cooking technique in Portugal, and my dad was always grilling outside, even in the winter. My mother is one of the best cooks I know. She could make just about anything. She made meatloaf like it was nobody’s business.

The Portuguese mark is evident on the menu, but so are influences from the Middle East and Asia. Where are these flavors coming from? When I create a menu, it is as much about the places I’ve been as it is about where I want to go. I love Middle Eastern food. My favorite place to eat in New York is the Hallal cart on 53rd and 6th avenue, which I visit at least once a week. The idea for the tuna dish (with Middle Eastern kebe spice, jasmine rice, and cucumber yogurt) came from watching an episode of Andrew Zimmerman’s Bizarre Foods filmed in Egypt. Every year brings with it new trends in food that seem to take over menus all over town. What’s your take on this year’s hot culinary trends? I think that food trends are brought up by a need or interest. Take a hamburger, for example. They are great, but do they need to be on everybody’s menu? I wish they didn’t have to be. But given the state of the economy, I think they are still a necessity. I accept it but try not to follow too much, and do what I think is right. But listen, there are many people out there right now making ton of money selling lobster rolls…

You worked in some of New York’s most prominent restaurants. Who are the chefs that most inspired you? Thomas Keller [with whom he worked at Per Se] taught me about everything that is beautiful about food. He taught me how meticulous and exacting food can be – the way he sourced the best ingredients, the many influences he drew on to create his food. It was always based on perfect technique. David Bouley, with whom I worked for over a year, is probably one of the most talented chefs I ever met. He taught me cooking under pressure. Working at Bouley was emotionally and physically intense. We worked 100-hour weeks and someone was always quitting. In that chaotic kitchen, I learned how to be good and how to survive. He was always there, always watching. At Bouley you had 250 people dining and you were beat, and the worst thing you can do is make a mistake. I was always a very composed person, but after I finished at Bouley it seemed that there was nothing that could be thrown at me that would rattle me. To last a year at Bouley was a feat that only about 4-5% do. I was there for a year and 2 months. So as much as I learned form Per se and the beauty there, I learned from Bouley and its craziness.

And your own kitchen – is it managed like Bouley’s or Keller’s? I like to sit right in the middle. I embrace a little bit of awkwardness and difficulty in the kitchen because it’s important for a cook to learn to deal with it. But I always want my food to be beautiful, to be sound in technique, and to taste great. I love the craziness and I live the order.

How often do you get to dine out in the city? Just about never. Accidentally, last night I dined at Brushstroke [David Bouley’s newest restaurant]. It was the first time I’ve gone out to eat in about a year. Taking up a kitchen in a new restaurant, you work so much just to make it work. There is a pressure of getting your name out there and proving yourself, so I find it necessary to be here all the time. But with summer coming up I’m hoping to find the time to dine out more. I want to check out The Dutch, eat at Daniel for the first time, and go to Le Bernardin again.

You are trying to establish yourself in a city chuck-full of celebrity chefs. Have you ever considered taking the reality TV path? I was asked to go on the Food Network’s Chopped a few times, but I rather stay away. I actually believe that my experience working at the kitchen at Bouley would have made me a good competitor, but I am so involved right now with my work that I’m not into becoming a celebrity chef. I see myself as very out going, easy to talk to, camera ready. But it is not my focus. My focus is making people happy. I think that is how you make a name for yourself. So you may not see me on Chopped any time soon, but you might catch me on Food Network’s Best thing I Ever Ate. Chef Ann Thornton nominated my venison tartar.

Unlock BlackBook’s Nightlife Badge on Foursquare!

In partnership with the aspirationally driven folks at HBO’s How to Make It in America, we’re proud to offer you the chance to achieve a personal gold standard by unlocking the exclusive BlackBook Nightlife badge on Foursquare. Make HTMIIA your Foursquare friend, then check into any 3 of 20 possible New York nightlife or dining destinations (restaurants are the new nightlife, you know), and you’ll get the shiny new Foursquare badge pictured here. Soon we may provide an even more material motivation to have fun with this, but for now, download the BlackBook Guide iPhone app and start hitting the hotspots. Complete list of eligible joints after the jump.

Allen & Delancey Apothéke Balthazar Boom Boom Room The Breslin Butter Coffee Shop Craft Daniel Elmo Japonais Macao Trading Co. Matsuri Morimoto Norwood Pegu Club Per Se Soho House The Spotted Pig Tenjune