Thursday, September 25, 2008

Heaven's Chef: Kenny Shopsin

Kenny Shopsin is famously known for hating publicity and because of his cranky eccentricities, Shopsin remains my culinary hero as opposed to the other Lower East Side of Manhattan magician, Wylie Dufresne. For starters take a look at Shopsin's goddamn menu. His crazed improv-short-order cook cum screaming magic bean buying savant style is one of the last great joys of eating in New York City.

My approach at Shopsin's is the exact opposite of "the customer is always right." Until I know the people, until they show me that they are worth cultivating as customers, I'm not even sure I want their patronage.

If you subscribe to Tasting Table or read Counter Culture obsessively, you will love Matt Mahurin's documentary I Like Killing Flies which really dives into the soup to nuts and bolts story of Kenny.

The old Shopsin's location in Greenwich Village was legendary but Kenny is still working the magic at the new location in Essex Street Market. So go see him but beware: He bites. Or just buy the book already.

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dan caine said...

that place is tricky. got thrown out the other day for have too big a group. not just not served but told to get the hell out.

julia moskin said...

Mr. Shopsin is a man equally obsessed and appetite-ridden, though what pulls the reader through “Eat Me: The Food and Philosophy of Kenny Shopsin” (Knopf, $24.95) is a kind of horrified, hilarious amazement. Is it true that he will flat-out refuse to serve any customer a cheese steak without onions, or a Cobb salad without bacon? Did he really just compare pressing a burger down on the griddle to masturbation? (He knows he shouldn’t do it, because it dries out the beef, but he can’t help it sometimes; then he feels bad afterward.)

Reading about Shopsin’s is actually more fun than eating at Shopsin’s; the book provides access to the food without the yelling and the edge of fear.


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