The Tasting Panel magazine

August 2015

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4  /  the tasting panel  /  august 2015 LETTER FROM THE EDITOR IN CHIEF The Quintessential Food Town? I lived in San Francisco for 20 years, beginning in 1978. It was a heady time for the restau- rant scene in the Bay Area. Chez Panisse was a lodestar, and the concept of "farm-to-table" was gaining traction locally and beginning to spread across the country and around the world. Chez Panisse alumni—people such as Jeremiah Tower (later of Stars fame), Joyce Goldstein (Square One) and Judy Rodgers (Zuni Café) in San Francisco as well as Mark Peel (Campanile) and Suzanne Goin (AOC and Lucques) in Los Angeles, among many others—began to become famous in their own right. As editor of the San Francisco Bay Area edition of the Zagat Survey for ten years, I loved every minute of those exciting years. Then, in late 1998, I decided to relocate from Fog City to Los Angeles. The City of Angels must have sensed that a major food-hound had arrived on the scene, dying to explore the famous and not-so-famous haunts of the Southland. Was it just me, or did the L.A. food scene blossom just as I arrived? A flurry of fabulous new restaurants had just opened or would open soon: Spago Beverly Hills, Lucques, Mélisse, JiRaffe, Sona. I became convinced that San Francisco's glory days were waning and that L.A. had become America's next food mecca. I've been in Los Angeles for over 16 years now, but I still travel to San Francisco regularly, not just for the San Francisco World Spirits Competition and San Francisco International Wine Competition, but also to host trade and consumer events there. After dining at new restaurants such as State Bird Provisions, Rich Table, Liholiho Yacht Club, Benu and Monsieur Benjamin, I've begun to believe the culinary pendulum may be swinging back in the direction of San Francisco. It's not that there's a dearth of fine dining in Los Angeles. I still love the amazing Bestia, Redbird and Cassia, along with favorite ethnic spots such as Pot and Park's BBQ. But the sense of cutting-edge culinary adventure and daring that makes San Francisco such a thrilling restaurant destination seems to be a bit dulled these days here in Southern California, where "let's play restaurant" establishments come and go as quickly as the hot celebrity of the week. Although I never want to live in Northern California fog again, right now my food money is on San Francisco. But are we living in a bubble out here on the Left Coast? Could any of the restaurants mentioned above hold their own in the fiercely competitive New York market? And don't even get me started on Tokyo . . . . —Anthony Dias Blue

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