Mediocrity celebrated in Bay Area food scene

Joined Aug 21, 2014
I posted this question to Eater after reading a Eater post concering Cory Lee creating a restaurant where the concept is to present dishes from famous restaurants and chef's around the world: 

No doubt that San Francisco Bay Area is a food Mecca. People flock here to eat, kids drop out of school to cook here, young chef’s dream of making it big here. There is no argument there! Has this lead to a state of stale in the food scene? Alice Water introduced us to farm-to-table culture. The word became so popular that it’s now shunned and left the chef’s vocabulary. In its place has come many new generic culinary terms. Is/has the tech invasion brought a similarity to food that’s left creativity behind? I eat out about 10 times a month, sometimes more and I’ve noticed over the last few years menu’s using the same ambiguous wording, plating that looks the same, and chef’s themselves looking the same! I’m in the industry so perhaps I have an insider’s POV. I am seeing the death of food culture rather than the birth of something new. Trends kill creativity rather than the popular belief that it enhances it.

Is anyone at Eater thinking about this? Perhaps studying it? 

I've been thinking a lot about this over the past serveral months. Working in the industry obviously affords me to see the business quite differently than diners, but I see this "sameness" damaging creativity not fueling more. 

Any thoughts on this? Anyone else thinking along these lines? 
Joined May 14, 2014
Don't know about SF(never been), three people in the last month said something to me along the lines of "every restaurant in seattle sells/wants the same food". But then, that's the definition of a 'scene', isn't it? A group of like minded people working in the same area? So there will always be an element of repetitiveness by people who work with and for the same people serving the samr customers.
As for mediocrity, creativity isn't the only metric of good food. The food on the plate should taste good & the atmosphere the restaurant should be enjoyable. Most days I'd rather eat a rueben, or penne pomodoro, or a perfectly cooked pair of over easy eggs, than something fancy.
As for eater, their job is to identify trends and celebrate the places people like to eat. Eater follows chefs and customers; where they go, so goes Eater. Eater does not make the scene, it talks about what the scene makes.

None of this contradicts your thesis, just some prrspective.
Joined Aug 21, 2014
I can appreciate your reply. All very valid, and good, points. Perhaps Eater fosters trends. San Francisco is "very" trendy city and most trendy restaurants get their 15 minutes and then thats that. Most people read Bauer ( San Francisco Food Critic) from Eater rather than reading SF Chronicle. 

I often hear people say how great San Francisco is, Bon Appetit is in love with the city, I should eat here and here. And so I go. Often the food from one restaurant looks just like the food from another. I'm not saying there's not great restaurants here, there is indeed. Lots of talented chefs.Just seems like the trendy places are bleeding into medicrity. 

I think most of us in the industry perfer to eat simple good tasting food, i know i do!

Thx for the reply! 
Joined Aug 21, 2004
I have been in the business for 40 years and what you are seeing is nothing new nor unique to an area. It is the nature of the business and people. Businesses jump on the newest bandwagon until pretty soon everybody is doing it and the original concept gets watered down and lost in the translation because the copycats don't have the vision that created it in the first place.

The "best" restaurant in my area touts farm to fork. The lineage of every item on the menu is proudly proclaimed, but yet their demi comes in a five gallon bucket. What would Alice think? 

Wanna be foodies love the restaurant, but the restaurant is doing nothing that Alice didn't do years ago and she did it better.

Restaurant professionals I know that are subjective and open minded have dined there and their reaction is usually luke warm.

And so it goes...

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