Tag Archives: French Food Critic

My Dinner with Food Critic Sophie Gayot


My Dinner with Food Critic

Sophie Gayot


World-renowned food critic Sophie Gayot is one Very Inspired Person with a French Twist in LA!  You can read more about my interview in between bites on “Sophie Gayot and the Good Life!”
We met recently at Bow & Truss  a Latin American restaurant in the NOHO District recently voted one of Gayot’s 2012  Top 10 LA New & Notable Restaurants!

As Sophie’s guest, I was honored to join in the tasting of all the dishes to my great delight (I am such a “gourmande”) Here is an exclusive sneak peek into the life of a world-renowned food critic!

We were treated to a variety of original dishes, I’d say about more than a dozen throughout the evening lovingly prepared by Executive chef, Stefhanie Meyers with a grand finale dessert assortment and several aged liqueurs!

 

My Dinner with Sophie Gayot

I arrived early and sat at the bar inside and ordered (as per Sophie’s suggestion) a signature drink called “The Daisy” made with fresh lemon juice and vodka. As I sipped my cocktail, I took in the atmosphere of this hip and trendy Latin fusion place. The outside patio with a full bar and terrace was also inviting but it was more comfortable and cooler inside with a full view of the action in the open kitchen and comfortable modern organic decor.

Bow & Truss

As I walked in I just mentioned to the lovely hostess that I was waiting for someone… afraid to blow Sophie Gayot’s cover at the restaurant not knowing if this was a surprise visit or not. When Sophie arrived she greeted me warmly and I followed her to the reserved booth where she started working right away, snapping away pictures of the restaurant as I observed. The waiters rushed over to the table to greet Sophie and so did the bartender, the hostess, and the restaurant owner. Sophie warmly greeted everyone with a smile and lots of humor. She declined the menu and asked that the chef just send over her own selections.

IMG_2642

And thus started the feast! Dishes after dishes followed as we both eagerly tasted the attractive dishes after being captured in a photograph. Discreetly, I observed Sophie at work enjoying each morsel with simple delight while squeezing in my interview questions here and there and a bit of casual chit-chat with a nice Guantanamera tune playing in the background(we mainly spoke in French, Sophie is French and lives in France but comes out on assignment in the US and all over the world)

3rd Course

Sophie explained how “the flavor in the mouth” is really the best sign of the dish, and she marveled at the chef’s creativity and soul to transform simple ingredients in a novel way. ( I felt like a judge on “America’s Top Chef!” or my other favorite show “You’ve Been Chopped!”, a very thrilling first experience!)

Handmade Chocolates

Sophie and I shared all the dishes. The finale dish arrived, and we were eloquently presented with a wide selection of hand-made chocolates and a huge sampling of delightful pastries along with 3 different old-aged sweet liqueurs to accompany each desert! (a total of  6 glasses!  Some of the liquor aged over 30 years old!)

Sophie Gayot

After the tasting, the big moment of truth arrived. Sophie freshened up her make-up to go meet and interview the chef in the kitchen! I tagged along and we all ended-up squeezing inside the huge kitchen refrigerator for the interview for lack of a better quiet place! (shhh… this is an insider secret) It was actually a very pleasant atmosphere considering the over 100 F degree outside still! I was pleased to participate and film the interview and watched how natural and spontaneously it unfolded.  (Secretly hoping inside that the film in the camera was really  rolling and that I was capturing the moment!!!)

Executive Chef, Stefhanie Meyers, a young and very talented chef seemed moved and very pleased by Sophie’s comments and questions and the interview in the refrigerator went very smoothly and was quite memorable! Sophie’s frank and warm manner really is a gift that makes people at ease.

Looking back, the whole evening was a memorable one for me as well and I thank you Sophie Gayot for this amazing experience and of course Chef Stefhanie at Bow & Truss as well as the gracious staff for a unique Latin fusion extravaganza!

Links to article:

Sophie Gayot and the Good Life! 

Chef Stefhanie Meyers  & Sophie Gayot YouTube Interview 

Gayot Review of Bow & Truss

http://www.youtube.com/user/GAYOTcom

 

Sophie Gayot and the Good Life!


Sophie Gayot and the Good Life!

Sophie Gayot world-renowned food critic began her culinary career the moment she was old enough to eat, sleep and ride in an airplane. “I was always with my father!  I grew up in this milieu. My mother also cooks very well… and she secretly confides ” I cannot help but always compare the food with my mother’s cooking which has a lot of soul .”

 I could tell Sophie Gayot is a woman on a mission.“I do not “eat” at restaurants,” she told me right away as we met, “I only go to the restaurant to work!”

Sophie & I met up at a restaurant one wonderful evening. You can read more about it on “My Dinner with Sophie Gayot”. Throughout the evening, I got to catch a rare glimpse into this fascinating woman’s world. It wasn’t at all a traditional interview with questions and answers,  but rather an on the spot culinary human encounter that flowed as we got acquainted in between bites.

What stroke me the most about Sophie was her surprisingly casual down-to-earth attitude and no-nonsense manner.  From the waiters to the head of the establishment, each person she greeted with a beautiful smile and delightful sense of humor. She clearly made people at ease and had instant rapport “Why be stand-offish… I like to treat people nicely and with respect from the dishwashers to the chef!  I enjoy talking to everyone. It’s so much more pleasant to be nice. Plus I have a lot of respect for this profession and empathy. People don’t realize how hot and noisy it can get in the kitchen!”

Growing up,  Sophie experienced a rare glimpse of the best the world had to offer while discovering her natural talent as a food and lifestyle critic. The apple did not fall far from the tree and Sophie naturally followed in her father’s footsteps, the acclaimed medal of honor recipient French restaurant critic André Gayot who coined and promoted the term “Nouvelle Cuisine” in the early 1970s with his friends Henri Gault and Christian Millau. In 1981 The Gayot Guides were first published using a 20-point scale rating system based on the French school grading system to score the restaurants compared to the Michelin Guide star system.

The Gayot Guide focuses on the top 40 restaurants and each year Gayot publishes its list of the “Top 40 Restaurants in the U.S.”highlighting the nation’s best restaurants. Today you can find more than 20,000 restaurant reviews published on the GAYOT website along with Top 10 Lists for international hotel and spa reviews, wine, and culinary event listings, travel guides and much more!

Sophie Gayot Good Life

Sophie Gayot is one busy woman and when we met she had just returned from an extensive Florida assignment followed by a visit to Tahiti. “It’s not always easy, it’s almost a 7 days-a-week work schedule.” Sophie explained, Each restaurant review is about 30 hours of work, between getting ready and made-up, driving there, eating, writing the review, writing the blog which is a different format from the review, editing the photos and the video, then emailing the chef, Twitter and Facebook”. She eats out for reviews on average 4 times a week all year round.

It naturally followed  in the conversation that I inquire about how Sophie manages to keep her  beautiful figure with this rigorous eating-out  regimen, “I workout and power walk with my weights every day for half-hour and 2 hours on the weekend.” When she finds spare time, she loves to listen to classical music — and stays away from restaurants.  “I could listen to Mozart all day during my days off, I enjoy the opera, ballet, museums but absolutely no restaurants!”

Sophie is well-known for her witty, straight forward and discerning attitude, which influences the distinct voice of her family’s international website, GAYOT.com” started in 2002. The popular online guidebook is well-respected for its comprehensive reviews and sets the standard for restaurant ratings for a vast audience of passionate foodies seeking cutting edge lifestyle experiences. On the Gayot Blog you can also enjoy all of Sophie’s intimate video interviews with chefs and celebrities.

With her extensive experience in the food, wine and travel industry for many years, Sophie is on a first-name basis with the best chefs in the world, from the celebrity gourmet chefs such as Joël Robuchon, Thomas Keller, Alain Ducasse, and Nobu Matsuhisa, to the best food stand vendors around the world.

I asked Sophie how she graded the food of course and how she portrayed herself as a food critic and her answer was candid and straight to the point “It’s all about the flavor and the taste ‘ in the mouth”. The chef that makes me vibrate incorporates creativity and fun, it’s the mixture and combination of tastes on the palette… in the mouth”  and she added “The Chef has to be in love with the food or it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t come across… it’s like a puzzle that has to be put together.”

Of course, I couldn’t resist asking what are her favorite food and restaurant. She refuses to answer. “Nobody knows. I don’t tell anyone. That is a rule that I have. I can just tell you that my personal taste does not influence my professional write-ups” And she went on adding “You can’t eat Robuchon or foie gras every night! “…” Here’s a note of caution and Chefs beware, Sophie loves all ingredients, except one: ”I do not like cinnamon!”  You’ve been warned!

Sophie Gayot sabre le champagne!

Another thing you may already know about Sophie is that she likes to live dangerously and always carries her saber! “Sabraging Champagne has become my signature move! Only the chef de cave at Dom Perignon refused to have his bottles sabraged!” When traveling and she does not have her saber, she goes in the kitchen and just grabs a knife. You can watch Sophie in action sabraging a champagne bottle here!

While dining at a restaurant Sophie never orders from the menu, “I like to discover the chef’s dishes and enjoy the surprise that’s in my plate.”  One thing is for sure Sophie will only interview the Chef if and only if she enjoyed the dishes, she doesn’t like to give negative reviews and prefers to keep the golden rule of silence: “Words don’t come out if the food was not up to par and my silence means everything! There’s something in me… I simply can’t talk to the chef if the food is not good.” She admits confronting the chef in the kitchen but in the end, be forewarned, ”If the food was not good, there’s no video interview.”

Sophie was featured on popular TV morning shows in the US, on LA radios, and on French TV. She was a judge on “Hell’s Kitchen” season 4 and 8 and named “one of America’s finest food critics” by star-chef Gordon Ramsay. On the nationally syndicated CBS TV show “The Insider”, Sophie was presented as “one of the most feared food critics” She also served four times as judge at the prestigious Nestlé Waters North America “Almost Famous Chef” competition, evaluating young cooking talents along with top chefs including Michel Richard.

if that wasn’t enough, Sophie is also involved in a variety of philanthropic organizations. She was Mistress of Ceremonies, six years in a row, at the elegant “Flavors” of  Los Angeles Culinary Gala for the American Liver Foundation”, and at “March of Dimes LA Gala” in 2010. She is a dedicated supporter of the Concern Foundation” as well as the “Cystic Fibrosis Foundation” which raise funds for cancer research scientists.

What has Sophie not tackled, yet?!  Clearly, she is living life passionately. Can we expect other surprises?, I asked her: “…a TV show…” she hints, could be on the horizon. It’s always interesting and inspiring to ask an inspired person who and what inspires them, for Sophie it is: “People who are innovators, people who are revolutionizing cuisine, creative people who use the same ingredients in innovative ways.”

One of my last question of the evening to Sophie was how she herself defined the “Good Life”? “The Good Life to me is to live the quality of the present moment. To live life to the fullest. It doesn’t have to be a life of luxury. It’s not about eating haute cuisine every night, but if you can, why not choose to eat the very best sandwich or hamburger and milkshake?  In the end, the Good Life really is all about Healthy Living!”

Thank you Sophie Gayot! It’s been a real treat meeting you and many cheers to The Good Life!