There is an inspired conversation happening all across the Midwest right now, and with an abundance of talent in Kansas City positioning our town to be THE next big food destination, the conversation that all of us industry outsiders with a camera, a blog and a subscription to Lucky Peach are having sounds exactly like THIS…..
TRUDY: So did you have dinner at The Second Coming yet? …….HA! HA! HA! RHETORICAL!!!!
TAD: HA!….Yeah, made it to the first night of the pre-soft opening dinners before they do the actual soft opening. Just fabulous….the food…and what they’ve done to utilize the repurposed lawn furniture while still maintaining the integrity of that abandoned mine mirrors the inherent generosity of the menu.
TRUDY: Agreed. When our server told me “No seriously, you really need to stay over here, that section of the mine isn’t safe yet”, I knew the food was going to have a lot to live up to…and it did. BUT…you were there that first night of the pre-soft opening? Did you get stuck with a later seating? We didn’t see you at the first one.
TAD: Actually, we managed to get the last two spots at family meal, totally different menu. We had rabbit sausage water and the crusts off the mini grilled cheese sandwiches that came with whatever you guys ate.
TRUDY: OH! I HEARD about that! So jealous!
TAD: Yeah, but of COURSE, as USUAL, annoying Trip and Jenny scored the ultimate reservation. They actually rode TO the restaurant with Chef Schvantz Grande and ate Wendy’s drive-thru on the way, then dessert course sitting on a box in the walk-in.
TRUDY: Fuckers. I was wondering why I kept seeing those weird status updates of their middle fingers next to a Frosty and a big basket of chanterelles.
TAD: Well, they have money and tons of connections from their corporate non-food circles as a built-in marketing tool, therefore they have the most popular and respected food blogs.
TRUDY: So I guess it’s safe to say that the next big trend is eating fast food with your local chefs?
TAD: I’ve thought about that quite a bit, and while popular bloggers with major PR connections who get way more “Likes” than I do annoy me, I have to say…they may be on to something. I mean, I’m starting to see meat and cheese from local producers in major grocery stores, even my mom belongs to a CSA now…these are both problems that indicate we’re hitting a level of saturation that will spawn the next big trend. I think it’s fair to compare the current local, sustainable, farm to table trend with more of a Neoclassical approach to cuisine if we are still considering cooking an art form, in that it has managed to recapture a former grace and grandeur in its simplicity. With what appears to be a trend where dining is more like theatre, and the artists themselves choose fast food over a waning locavore movement, one could make the argument that we are moving into more of a Mannerist period that emphasizes structure over nature.
TRUDY: Isn’t that from the foreword to “Modernist Cuisine”?
TAD: No, you probably saw it on my blog post about how the only legitimate food blogs are ones that will agree to a set of rules like Dogme film directors. Oh, and if you have actually have a job in the industry there is a handicapping score you have to agree to as well. AND if you’re a chef with more than one restaurant you have to let everyone else weigh in on a topic first.
TRUDY: That’s it! Well, great observation, and it’s a shame to see the toll that locavorism is taking on the food scene. Just when things started getting good, did you read that piece the fucking Star did on Midwestern Cuisine? What fucked up timing.
TAD: Oh yeah….from Silva’s lips to Bourdain’s ears to the fat asses of the Paula Deen crowd. I am not sharing my space with those buffet behemoths on a Saturday night.
TRUDY: I know, I really think that the exclusivity that comes with niche dining is the only way any of us who aren’t in the industry are going to be able to get recognition IN the industry……being the best at eating food is not that hard to achieve…carving out a loyal audience of people who appreciate the unique way in which you chronicle your eating- THAT is the difficult part.
TAD: Oh, not to interrupt, but back to that rabbit sausage water from family meal….perfect example of something we’re going to lose before it got a proper start. You know much about Chef Grande’s new sous chef?
TRUDY: I’ve only heard the rumors that he quit his chef position at Blue Hill at Stone Barns in order to spend the last seven years staging across the American southwest. Oh, and that he will NOT buy a piece of cutlery outside of a garage sale.
TAD: Yeah, very different dude, real dedication to the craft. From an aboriginal family.
TRUDY: I thought he was just Mexican. He just goes by Segundo.
TAD: Wow, nice racism.
TRUDY: Saying Mexican is racist? I thought Aboriginal was racist….you’re supposed to say indigenous I think.
TAD: Christ, okaaaayyyyyy…so is he an INDIGENOUS Mexican or an INDIGENOUS Australian?
TRUDY: You ate his sausage water, I figured you’d already know that.
TAD: HA! Totally fucking with you, I DO know….the little bastard is Australian. But I’ve been telling everyone he’s Mexican to put them off the trail until I can blog about it.
TRUDY: You’re pretty good. But I don’t get the cloak and dagger over naming Segundo’s heritage.
TAD: He’s just a very enigmatic character. You see his Facebook page?
TRUDY: Yeah, that’s kind of what threw me off with his name and all, his photo is just a blank, black space.
TAD: Ding! Ding! Ding, Matey! He is from the old school, still thinks the camera will take his soul.
TRUDY: VERY old school…. Very abandoned mine.
TAD: So there’s THAT, and if you’ve ever seen him stir a risotto or a roux, you’d have noticed something very peculiar…
TRUDY: Ohhhhh, right right right, I haven’t seen him cook but I assume what you’re getting at is that piece you did on tribalism and the significance of handmade wooden spoons…..the whole…
TAD: COREOLIS EFFECT! Our little friend from the southern hemisphere only stirs to the left!
TRUDY: And I know he’s responsible for the latest trend in butchery and sausage making…using the dying breath of an animal to blow open the end of the casing before you thread it onto the machine. Makes me feel really bad for Chef Grande.
TAD: How so?
TRUDY: I mean, he put a lot of work into getting zoning permits for that mine, and he’s bravely sticking to his guns with the fading farm to table fad, but his restaurant is pretty much over with.
TAD: Trudy, he hasn’t even opened the restaurant yet! They’re still busy selling out the series of soft openings! What the fuck?
TRUDY: You’re kind of proving my point. Already proven it actually with all of your enthusiasm for Segundo, whose first service at Second Coming was also his last. The unknown Sous Chef IS the new Celebrity Chef. THAT is the real trend that will put Kansas City on the map. Terms like “ingredient-driven”, making up new names for the same old regional cuisines….that is all last-gasp material. At one point the trend was for a chef to grow up in a smaller town, get trained and open a restaurant in a larger city that highlighted their culinary roots. THEN you had those same people come BACK to their hometown like a king returning from battle, open a restaurant, and combine what they grew up eating with whatever they learned abroad. We’re still in that “chefs returning home” trend, and it has hit such a point of saturation that pretty much anyone can eat stuff you only saw in the major food blogs. When my own mother knows what sous vide is, things are getting too weird.
TAD: I see your point, I can’t say I disagree, but…I feel kind of sick, like I’ve been set up here.
TRUDY: I’m so sorry! I was afraid that would happen!
TAD: I mean, you obviously knew more than you led me to believe…
TRUDY: I’m sorry, you were just so enthusiastic and I’ve always admired your work and level of knowledge…and now it’s like watching a dying comet. But I mean that in a good way.
TAD: Okay. I guess. I just figured my focus would always allow me to predict any upcoming food movements. I guess I got to a point where my ability to be the first to do what nobody else would be doing for another few months put me in a dangerous comfort zone…..
TRUDY: Tad, I’m sorry, but don’t feel bad about your outdated methods. It was bound to happen eventually. But the good news is, there is a brighter world to come!
TAD: Yeah, I trust you. It’s just a hell of a paradigm shift. So go ahead…it is obvious you are DYING to get on with the Segundo intel……
TRUDY: It has literally been killing me this whole time! And I wouldn’t even know any of this if Segundo himself hadn’t walked in to my office to inquire about a graphic design for his upcoming “Real Chefs Stir to the Left” social media blitz.
TAD: Do tell, sensei.
TRUDY: SO- the whole premise is based on two things: First, try to name one sous chef at any of your favorite restaurants.
TAD: I can’t. Oh, Segundo.
TRUDY: EXACTLY! Being unknown or, God forbid, the “best kept secret” isn’t enough anymore…it’s over with. Now it’s a matter of literally nobody knowing who in the fuck you are.
TAD: But we know Segundo. WE know who he is.
TRUDY: Obviously, and I could explain that but I was sworn to complete secrecy on most of the details…let’s just say that on opening night, as the first seating begins, Segundo is going to pass out disposable cameras and “sell his soul”.
TAD: Hooooly shit. Now THAT…is dedication to his art. I mean, there was that trend where traditional Chinese chefs were cutting off their braids after reading bad Yelp reviews, but that petered out quick…there’s only a finite number of braids and hair takes so long to grow back…..ANYWAY, can you divulge the NAME of this new restaurant?
TRUDY: SOFT OPENING!
TAD: The man leaves during a soft opening to open Soft Opening….totally next level stuff….
TRUDY: Balls-Out is the new Next Level….just FYI…you probably want to stop saying next level.
TAD: Thanks, so anyway…enlighten me on premise NUMERO SEGUNDO! Sorry, that was stupid, had to do it…
TRUDY: Second thing is really simple…the next trend is the last trend.
TRUDY: The NEXT trend is whatever the trend before it was….and do NOT fucking mention this to anyone when I tell you the menu for opening night….but to illustrate the point, Segundo’s first menu is going to revolve around Gourmet Hot Dogs and Macarons using sustainable ingredients.
TAD: Nice! I totally get it now….wow, you can take that and run with it.
TRUDY: Totally. To get his point across he’s opening with a really obvious one, but I think in the fall he’s just going to make “Umami” the trend again.
TAD: So you just keep going backwards in order to keep it fresh…..so, like, in a couple of years he could work his way BACK to doing sliders, or a noodle bar….just advertise the SHIT out of the fact he uses a local coffee roaster…
TRUDY: Comfort food, cupcakes, deconstruction, pine nuts, low carb…..it’s pretty endless.
TAD: But you KNOW, at some point the food is going to get kind of shitty…and not in that “I’m making an ironic gesture towards molecular gastronomy in order to out-Achatz you” kind of way, but genuinely crappy…I mean, there is some nightmarish aspic and overcooked asparagus-laden crap when Haute Cuisine first made its way across the pond….
TRUDY: And THAT is the process, you nailed it exactly. The latest trend is made up of incrementally fading trends, and exclusivity for foodies becomes the desire to eat food that fewer and fewer people even give a shit about anymore. And the fact that the food starts tasting worse and more predictable with each year, really shows you who the die-hard, dedicated people are.
TAD: Eating bad food cooked by a chef that nobody even knows about….welcome to the future, where in a few years we won’t have to sneer at being called a foodie and we know it because it’s predetermined….it’s like some kind of goddamn culinary supralapsarian genius….
TRUDY: Shit man, you’re going to be GREAT at this…..supralapsarian….hang on to that shit, there’s not a foodie PR schmoe in the world who can compete with THAT.
TAD: And perhaps, one day you will have to pass the role of teacher back to ME!
TRUDY: I have to pee.