Author-psychologist Scott Haas has a new book called Back of The House: The Secret Life of a Restaurant coming out about Craigie on Main chef-owner Tony Maws, and Haas has some interesting things to say about Craigie in an interview with The Braiser. For starters, Haas veers into dangerous territory by touching on the ol' Boston versus New York restaurant debate.
In trying to describe the local food scene, he says "There's no Daniel Boulud; there's no?" at which point the interviewer cuts in with "There's no 'Great Chef'?" Haas quickly clarifies his position: "You can say that if you want to! I'm not going to say that." But it feels like he kind of does want to say that. He goes on to say "I think it's extremely complicated as to why some of the restaurants in Boston have not reached a level of parity with restaurants in other cities."
Then, he gets into a compare and contrast with Maws and Boulud, who has restaurants in eight cities around the world. He says:
The difference between Tony and Daniel is that Daniel — I've known Daniel for about eighteen years, and if anything he is extremely consistent. Tony is not extremely consistent. Tony's food varies from night to night. Daniel will do that — if there's a VIP in the room, Daniel or his executive chef will add things to the tasting menu. Tony will literally change things night to night. He does this to keep his cooks from being bored — or to keep himself from being bored — but it creates challenges for the branding, because if you have a brand that's characterized by a continuously changing approach to what's on the menu, then how do you create a brand in Chicago based on that kind of concept?
Haas then elaborates on what he perceives as Maws' inconsistency.
So on the one hand, he has this idea where he doesn't want to serve any Californian wines, because he doesn't want people to have familiar wine. He only serves wines cheifly from France, some from Italy. But on the other hand, he serves all these beautiful craft beers, chiefly from the United States. So why is it all right to sell beer from the states, but not wine? That doesn't make any sense to me. When he talks about wanting to use all local products, why is it that he buys his olive oil from Lebanon? [Note: because there's no locally produced olive oil.] If he talks about doing things from scratch, why is he getting bread from Iggy's Bakery, a commercial bakery whose bread you can buy at Whole Foods? [Note: because everyone knows Iggy's is awesome.] I think he's a work in progress. I don't think he's clearly defined what he wants to do, or what his kitchen wants to do.
· Food Writer Scott Haas on Tony Maws, Boston[The Braiser]
· New Book Back of The House Profiles Craigie on Main [~EBOS~]
· All Coverage of Tony Maws on Eater [~EBOS~]
[Photo: Inside Scoop SF]