I’ve been fighting for a smoke free world for most of my life. When Jean-Louis (Palladin, my mentor) smoked, I ragged on him non-stop. Now he’s dead. And with Illinois pretty much smoke free it’s even harder to tolerate walking into a restaurant back in Richmond, VA. But…I got a flurry of emails last month from friends back home when Virginia passed a no smoking bill to take effect this December.

I think I’m glad to see a bill giving the FDA regulatory powers over tobacco. Not sure. We really need to protect the workers from smoke so I hope this doesn’t hamper those efforts. Maybe OSHA needs to step in. Too bad the gov’t needs get involved but there seems to be no alternative. And now I can go to jazz clubs, or bowling with my kids for the first time in years. It’s a great feeling.

Good thing I was unarmed.

Wow. How bad can service be? I took Laura Yee to lunch Wednesday (my PR maven, business lunch thank you). We tried to get some things accomplished but this waiter thing kept interrupting by bringing plates of food to us and asking if that’s what we ordered. Three times! And he questioned out loud why I was looking at him funny.

Then came the check. He charged me for the potato omelet tapas that we never got. When I pointed that out to him he screamed over to his colleague “Hey, I found the table that the omelet was supposed to go to!”.

I’m taking my Chef de Cuisine, Geoff Rhyne, to NYC in a couple of weeks to dine. We’re taking a break from June 28th to July 6th. The restaurant will be serving a limited, non SugarToad menu.

One place I thought I’d take him is per se. Thomas Keller is one of the best chefs in America. When I made the reservation, however, the site noted that jeans were not allowed. Unfortunately, it’s all I own. I’ve made a career of telling folks I became a chef so I could wear jeans to work, and play. So I left a message for the GM of per se to see how strict the policy was, and he replied by email “if it’s jeans you wear, then jeans it is.” He then asked that I wear dark jeans, and a jacket. As it turns out we got tickets to Colbert and I had canceled per se before I got the reply.

Anyway, my philosophy is that food should be fun and by golly if you want to dress up, go ahead. And if you’re more comfortable in jeans, great. But please, wear shoes.

I moved a lot as a kid. 17 times. But three formative years (high school) were spent in Charleston, SC. The restaurant scene there is pretty strong although, like anywhere else, ask the chefs where to find a great meal and they give you the same look my Basenji does when I ask her what day it is.

However….I had a very good meal, actually two, this week. I went there to give my Mom some attention and had to catch up on the restaurant scene. Jessie (my 7 year old niece) and I went to FIG (Food Is Good) on Monday night. Very good. Simple, seasoned (good salt), and well prepared. Did I mention simple? I’ll go back any time.

Last night I ate at Ken Vedrinksi’s new place, Trattoria Lucca. Tiny, cute, and also very good. Simple, well seasoned, and well prepared. Did I mention simple?

I’m happy to note that both meals were very much in the style of my food. And since I’m a bit older than either Michael Lata at FIG and Ken, I can say that I’ve been there longer. Let’s hope the industry stays on this path. It tastes so good.