A reader asked San Francisco Chronicle restaurant critic Michael Bauer why celebrity NY chefs and restauranteurs didn't open outposts in San Francisco. Bauer's theory:
We’re a little provincial, a little smug about our homegrown talent, and a little less enthralled with big-name chefs who garner fame elsewhere and then bring a concept here.
As you can imagine with a topic like this, the comment thread escalated immediately into a bar fight between left and right coast foodies (if you see people and bottles and chairs flying out saloon windows, avoid the place).
If that's true, it's a loss for San Francisco, which does have a high density of hard-core foodies. Insularity is not healthy when it comes to dining, not in this day and age where chefs and diners can grow up learning and tasting so many different types of cuisine. It used to be that the sacred rule of thumb was that you didn't eat at an ethnic restaurant unless the clientele comprised a large number of people of that ethnicity. While it's still a useful diagnostic shortcut for more obscure cuisines or less diverse geographies, it has started to let me down more and more in the major US cities.
Chefs apprentice all over the world now, but even if they stay close to home, they usually have access to kitchens preparing all types of cuisine. Specialized ingredients are easier to source anywhere in the world now. Information wants to be free, and ethnic culinary secrets are no exception.
It's nonsensical that foodies who pride themselves on openness to all types of cuisine would not have that same attitude towards chefs from other cities.