Several months back the “Best Food City in North America” obviously drew a lot of posts, and passionate heated debate. Yes, the regional rivalries that ensued were very entertaining and enlightening… yet predictable. Also, several people voiced the need for criteria on to make a choice. So I went through the very entertaining thread, and gleamed with I believe are all the categories used to highlight or put down each city.
My intention was to start a thread with some structured criteria so that we really get to know each city’s culinary merits… and avoid some of the simplistic assessments like X is the best city because it has everything… or Y restaurant is just so great. However, I never really got to start the thread, so now that we are having these Best Food City in the World type threads, I see it as the perfect opportunity to try it again.
My hope is that those who feel sufficiently knowledgeable and passionate about the subject, nominate a city of their choice and state its case according to the criteria outlined below. Please feel free to provide many verifiable examples, and contrast with other cities you know well.
Does the city of have a truly Unique Culinary Identity? Describe it. What makes it unique? How deep rooted is this identity? Provide examples of dishes, concepts, restaurants etc.,
How do Local Ingredients support the city’s unique culinary identity?
Describe the city’s Culinary Culture & Attitudes. What is the typical resident’s relative Chowishness? Is quality eating widespread, restricted to a small enlightened group, or the rich?
Describe the city’s Culinary Know How. How good are the mainstream cooks? How about the top regarded Chefs? Does the city produce high numbers of quality Chefs?
What is the typical quality of ingredients widely available?
Describe the city’s offering of artisan & specialty products?
Describe the city’s wine culture. Describe the typical wine offering. How well is food paired to wines?
What is the city’s general restaurant infrastructure?
Describe the city’s breadth of choices… how many distinct categories, what are some examples? How is the city’s offering of ethnic and foreign cuisine? (Note, I define ethnic cuisine as that which belongs to the city’s minorities & immigrants. Foreign cuisine is the cuisine of another country, but without the immigrants. For example, many cosmopolitan cities around the world have lots of French restaurants… without having very many French immigrants.)
Describe the depth of each of the city’s culinary categories. In other words; does it have 100s of Ethiopian restaurants or just one?
Describe the general quality level of the city’s culinary categories. Are those 100s of Ethiopian restaurants fabulous because of competition, or do they instead compete on price and only deliver mediocrity?
Establishments by Price Point
Describe the city’s low end dining situation? Numbers, Variety, Quality etc.,
What is a typical, everyday meal like? How affordable & physically accessible are restaurants in the city?
What is the typical splurge / special occasion meal? (Note, by typical I mean to exclude the $400 tasting menu at the restaurant that only seats 20 per night, and has no other comparison in the city)
What is the city’s fine dining offering like? Numbers, Variety, Quality etc.,
Does the city have any “World Class” restaurants? (Think of World Class as the restaurants that offer the cutting edge dining & ambiance… think foams, herbs grown in a gold toilet, big name chefs… ya-da, ya-da, ya-da).
I am sure it will take several days to prepare something this comprehensive... I intend to nominate Mexico City but will be busy with work for the next week so I think I should be able to post my nomination in about a week & a half. I really hope some of you are up to the challenge... because this could potentially be a CH goldmine for all of us who hope to travel to the world's top culinary destinations.