Sunday, May 6, 2012


'Tis the season of great proclamations in the food world.

Several weeks ago, Alex Van Buren of Grub Street declared Anthony Bourdain  " responsible as anyone for shaping the world of food in America." NYU Food Studies professor Krishnendu Ray seconded the motion: "He is what all of us want to be."

Thank you, professor. I never knew I wanted to be Anthony Bourdain.

While wondering what Van Buren's definition of America is, I found the claim of Bourdain's great influence disconcerting if only because I believed Jared of Subway had that esteemed position sewn up.

No matter.

Amid such praise, at least one other member of the food media won't cede Bourdain sole possession of such rarified territory:  Jeff Gordinier, writing in the Times last week, proclaimed chef Wylie Dufresne of WD-50, "one of the most influential culinary minds on the planet," and with that, Mr. Gordinier was just warming up.

Of the chef: he is " American pioneer" and "culinary wizard." 
His work is likened to a "Nobel-winning physicist," "Ben Franklin,"
"Captain Beefheart," "Led Zepplin," and "[Leonardo] da Vinci."
[It is hard not to ask: what are the odds of Led Zepplin and Leonardo da Vinci ever being mentioned in the same written breath until now?]. 

We read that Dufresne's forthcoming menu won't be just any chef's new menu, but a work that is likely " to human civilization itself."

In case that wasn't enough, the writer enlists support from David Chang of Momofuku, one who knows well of high praise from personal accomplishment. Says Mr. Chang of Mr. Dufresne: “I’d put him in that pantheon of the most important chefs that America has ever produced." 

By this point, I was schvitzed reading praise of such magnitude. Before the article was done, I assumed we'd learn that beyond his kitchen, Wylie Dufresne was also script doctoring Woody Allen screenplays.
I must admit: reading all of these accolades, not mere generous compliments, but coronations attached to time, history and nearly the cosmos themselves, I wondered: How can I get in on some of this extra-terrestial praise?   

An admission: I've never once considered deconstructing a croissant or aerating a sticky bun in the manner of "cuisine de Wylie," but I am not above extending myself creatively in return for some extra-fine PR.

To wit.....

An open appeal to Mr. Gordinier: if you've got praise enough leftover [the da Vinci kind would do fine], I'm hereby willing to change the City Bakery springtime menu just like WD-50, and trust me, bakery menus are as tradition-bound as they come, as in, um, .... human civilization. 

I'll lose the croissant, sideline the muffins, send the scones packing. I'm not sure I can 86 the Pretzel Croissant, but in the spirit of this offer and endeavor, I will try. In any scenario, I promise this will be no less heroic than flying a kite in order to create electricity.

If you're open to a deal in exchange for my effort to upend hundreds of years of the bakery canon, I ask only that you be willing to praise my actions by invoking even modest comparisons to [your choice] of: Plato, Florence Nightingale or Elvis Presley. Just one of the three will do the job, and again, 100% your choice on which one.

I'm willing to get started right away.

Please email here ["comments"] with your decision.

Thank you.


  1. Gosh, Maury, I don't know. Would you be okay with Hootie & the Blowfish?

  2. Hi Maury,

    My vote would be for comparing you to the Paul Newman of baked goods b/c you do so much good work w/ the green movement.

    You received great accolades in Lebovitz's "The Sweet Life in Paris." Your shout-out is on page 204, in which he describes the City Bakery as superlative and talks about how you set him up w/ Nancy Meyers. You should definitely check out the book (I'm not very far along, but it's a fun read and the recipes look really good). I bought my copy at the Strand, but it should be available at B&N.


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