This is the eleventh installment of "Eat This List" - a regularly recurring list of things chefs, farmers, writers and other food experts think you ought to know about. Today's contributor is John Winterman, maitre d' at Daniel restaurant in New York City.
I can be as casual as the next guy. I'm from Indiana, so I don't have much choice. The only known Hoosier engaged in high snobbery was Bill Blass, otherwise no one ever got beyond “local boy done good” status – even James Dean.
I have ripped this joint and raised some hell. I've been to enduros and hydroplane races and at least one tractor pull. I drank my first PBR at age five and I still have a t-shirt with the sleeves cut off.
But I also know the tragedy that is a grown-up wearing shorts in public. I know the difference between the ballpark and the opera house, between a dive bar and The French Laundry.
As the maitre d' at Daniel I get to work in one of the finest fine dining establishments in the world. The restaurant exudes charm and flair, a hybrid of modern French-American style be it on the plate or in the service, a place that requires jackets and frowns on jeans.
That being said, it is a balancing act. We defend a standard of dining in a time where a chef can earn three Michelin stars while eschewing silver, crystal and a jacket policy. Upholding a standard is ever more critical as you try to justify separating people from their money on a nightly basis.
Herein, a dollop of wisdom on why fine dining still matters.
When top toques like Daniel Boulud, José Andrés, John Besh and Michael Chiarello get, erm, late night cravings, they don't go scrambling for the pots, pans and sous vide machine.
Live from the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen: Chef Daniel Boulud chats hot trends and chilling facts with Don Lemon, and Top Chef's Gail Simmons weighs in on the country's obesity epidemic.
Previously - Gail Simmons talks pigging out and the price we pay
See all Food & Wine Classic coverage