A few weeks ago there was a discussion on new restaurant openings in town, and Cocotte came up as one location that quite a few people wanted to try. Well, someone in the group did try it, and commented "wonder how long the chef was actually at Amber..."
A quick glance at Patrick's CV online shows that he was at the Landmark Mandarin Hotel from late 2005 to mid-2006. Well, even if he were chef de cuisine at Amber during that time, to be honest the Amber of 2006 ain't exactly what it is today. So to even use it as the primary part of your PR blurb is a little misleading... never mind that he's outright lying about his position.
Of course, most of us (well... myself excluded in this case) just take what the restaurant/PR tells us and lap it up. Lots of media, websites, blogs... have basically regurgitated the same line, without bothering to do some basic due diligence to see if the guy is really who he says he is. One Francophile website I came across even called him the "former head of Amber" - which is so laughable I wanted to call up the people behind the site and meet them... because anyone who knows anything about Amber would know who the "head of Amber" is.
Now a little word about the Moldovan brothers behind the restaurant - Jonathan and Brice - who are described in the PR blurb as having "come from a long line of five-starred European hospitality." What exactly does that mean? Based on what I can gather from the internet - including this New York Times interview with Brice and his twin brother Petrous - their parents had a brasserie in the small village where they were born. Not exactly five-star, n'est-ce pas?
Jonathan, as far as I can tell, has mostly worked in finance. The twins said they always worked in the same restaurants from the time they were teenagers, so I'm assuming that Brice's CV would look almost identical to Petrous'. Let's see... some rustic-looking place around Nice; another small resto in the small, seaside town of La Barre-de-Monts; a country club in England; a lodge restaurant in Sun Valley, Idaho that is described as a "comfortable family restaurant"... After that, there was finally a name I recognized - La Côte Basque in New York. I'm not sure what Brice was doing, but Petrous is said to have been sous chef. Given that La Côte Basque closed in 2004 when the twins were around 22, he would have been a pretty young sous chef... After another stint elsewhere, the twins found themselves back in New York with the Russian Tea Room, where Brice was the mixologist and Petrous was chef de cuisine and found time to make the local news. Later on the three brothers decided to strike out on their own, opening New York Burger Company.
The preceding paragraph was, perhaps, a long line... but how much of it was "five-starred European hospitality"? Well... none, if you asked me.
So... this is the type of stuff that's going on in our F and B industry - where people inflate their CVs and outright lie about their experience. The running joke among my friends is that "everyone and their dog has worked at elBulli" - or nowadays noma. As a consumer who shells out his hard-earned cash, how excited am I about all these upcoming new openings around town, run by people like these? Not very. I'd rather go back to my list of tried-and-true restaurants, including - you guessed it - Amber.