Yom Kippur—the Jewish day of atonement, a time to repent and make amends—begins tonight. In light of the holiday, First We Feast asked food world folks to cop to the culinary “sins” they’d like to repent for this year.
We went a step further and asked these chefs and restaurant owners about the industry-wide offenses that the food industry at large needs to make right. We’d personally like to call out the food world for turning avocado toast into an Instagram sensation, and the continued scourge of small plates—but this isn’t about us.
Read their confessions below.
Executive Chef at Morimoto in NYC
Personal culinary sin: Instead of eating at work, or going home and cooking for my family, or trying to be healthy and finding something light to eat at 2am when I get out of work, I’ve eaten at the El Idolo taco truck almost every day for the past year. I always get the same thing: cemita al pastor. Spicy pork, chipotle, pineapple, cheese, avocado, and salsa roja on a sesame roll.
Industry-wide culinary sin: Foraging for inedible greens that no one should ever eat. They might be beautiful, or interesting, or unique, or local, or technically not poison. I get the artistic value of “dioramas-of-nature-on-a-plate,” but nobody wants to eat that. Food can’t just be aesthetically-pleasing—it needs to be delicious, too.
Chef/co-founder of The Meatball Shop
Personal culinary sin: I’d like to repent for burning the skin on the pig I cooked last week. Burning the skin should be one of the seven deadly sins.
Industry-wide culinary sin: The industry should repent for savory desserts. It’s enough already! I know, you’re a genius for making salty-bacon-tarragon ice cream; pat yourself on the back and let’s move on. I want something sweet!
Third-generation owner of Katz’s Deli
Personal culinary sin: I once went an entire week without cooking a single meal—it was all takeout and delivery for a solid seven days.
Industry-wide culinary sin: The Subway pastrami sandwich. It’s a national travesty that needs to be stopped as soon as possible. If you want real pastrami, ship it from us.
Chef/owner of Bubby’s
Personal culinary sin(s): When my family was out of town for a month this summer, I ate a combination of Cocoa Krispies and rice pudding. I also spent like $100 a night ordering from Caviar.
Industry-wide culinary sins: The industry-wide sins are overwhelming! Start with Big Agriculture, and work your way through the gambit of companies and people pretending to be making food, but really they are just making people sick with bad practices. To name the sinners would require an awfully big soapbox, plus a good look at answer #1 for my own personal contribution to these sins.
Personal culinary sin: Traif, philosophically, was devised for me to have a restaurant where following culinary rules was unnecessary. With the proliferation of food allergies, aversions, etcetera, I find myself paying much more attention to these dietary restrictions when constructing recipes. On one hand, I know I’m trying to be thoughtful; but, it’s also like I’m being untrue to myself.
Industry-wide culinary sin: One word: foraged. I used to work for a great chef who, while observing my less-than-perfect ravioli, said to me, “Just because you make it, doesn’t mean it’s good.” I feel that way about the whole foraging thing. Yeah, there are treasures to be found, but just because it’s edible doesn’t mean it’s good. Sorry everyone, you’re not Rene, and this ain’t Noma. Another thing that is way overused is putting a bunch of flowers, petite greens, and other garnishes on every dish on the menu. I get it—flowers are pretty and the dish looks better on Instagram. But does it improve the dish?