The December issue of Bon Appetit says the Chicago chef’s yet-to-be-open Next restaurant is among the “best celebration restaurants” in the country. The magazine’s introduction to its list of the “Hot 10” implies that they are critically recommended, saying its choices are each a spot that “takes its service as seriously as its food, that coddles you and makes you feel, well, special. Here are some of our favorites.” Admitting it was too quick on the trigger, Bon Appetit has removed Next from the online version of the story, along with a note acknowledging the error.
Reasons why I think there’s not more uproar over this:
1. People love Grant Achatz and think that everything he does is of the highest caliber. If he succeeds, it’s good news for his industry.
2. People really like Bon Appetit and - as a food journo friend of mine tells me - “it’s the only food magazine with name recognition besides Food and Wine.”** If it succeeds, it’s good news for its industry.
3. No journo is going to point fingers at Bon Appetit for engaging in the delicate dance between the deadline and being first - or at least one of a few - to anoint a hot new place. Because lots of monthlies do it. Even some weeklies. Nobody wants to be the first person to lump BA in with Yelp.
So no one’s going to say Next isn’t likely to be fantastic because it probably is and they’re rooting for it to succeed. And no one’s going to criticize Bon Appetit because they’re aren’t many quality food mags left and it would only lead to lots of finger-pointing.
** EDITED TO ADD: In a subsequent conversation, my food journo friend said he’d add Saveur to this list.
ADDENDUM: After @MichaelNagrant told me this had been discussed a couple weeks ago, I was able to find a post over on Eater and a post on The Stew. So I’m just late to the game here. Still, while Eater digs at the issue a bit there’s a lack of anger or accountability from BA here. I think my reasoning above still explains that.