My Apology to Tom Colicchio
Posted on October 8, 2010 by Mike
You’re currently attending the NYC Wine & Food Festival, where you participated as a panelist discussing the concept of “local” dining. As a successful restauranteur dedicated to the renaissance of craft, you’re in the unique position to create positive change in the world of restaurant coffee – a culinary experience often ignored.
I give you all the credit in the world for upgrading your basic service in several of your restaurants, selecting a vendor (Stumptown) as dedicated to ethical sourcing and trading of quality coffee as you are to meat. And although RiverPark may not be using Starbucks, the reality is not much better. There you’ve chosen a vendor who cloaks their product in secrecy. In truth there are very few top-notch restaurants in the country that take their coffee as seriously as they take their food. An unfortunate reality given that coffee is the last thing the consumers taste after dining in a restaurant. Coffee is produce that rarely receives the same respect given to the vegetables on the plate. When I eat in a good restaurant, the staff can tell me where each component of the dish was sourced, and where it was purchased. Rarely is the same traceability given, or thought about, with coffee.
We’ve recently seen an exception to this rule, at Eleven Madison. Where they’ve successfully overhauled their coffee program entirely (The NYT on Eleven Madison). This is the type of treatment coffee deserves, and you have an opportunity to be on the forefront of this movement.
So Tom, I admit that I was wrong in assuming that the Starbucks event meant you were using them as a vendor. But now that I have your attention, I challenge you to raise your coffee program to the same exceptional levels as the rest of your dining experience.