The Restaurant Issue

ISSUE VII | February 2021

Massican Magazine

Phaidon’s Executive Editor for Food & Drink, Emily Takoudes, leads our Restaurant Issue as she dives in and offers some insight on five outstanding chefs and their vision for what not only their restaurants could be, but also what a restaurant could be to its community.

A Q&A With Phaidon’s Executive Editor for Food & Drink Emily Takoudes

What’s the thinking behind the restaurant list and how has it changed over the years? What does a restaurant or a chef have to have in this age to make Phaidon be interested in publishing their story?

The chefs on our curated culinary list all have unique visions, are intensely creative people, and they have done something remarkable through their restaurants, dishes, and re-imagining of how ingredients can be used.

Some of these chefs have been at their craft for decades (such as Virgilio Martinez of Central), and some are part of an exciting new wave of emerging chefs with great energy and drive (such as Jeremiah Stone and Fabian von Hauske of Contra and Wildair).

Who have been the restaurant chefs that you really enjoyed working with over the years? Can you name one or two and why you enjoyed working with them?

It’s hard to name a favorite but working with Ana Ros of Hisa Franko in Slovenia was a remarkable experience.  She had so many stories to share from her journey as a chef, and we had the opportunity to create an extraordinary and highly visual book. Chef Jeremy Fox in California was also a delight to work with and Mexican chef Enrique Olvera, with whom I’ve had the pleasure of making two books – a chef monograph focused on Pujol called Mexico from the Inside Out and Tu Casa Mi Casa.

Phaidon has worked with some huge upcoming names in the restaurant world over the years – what is the reaction when you approach them for the first time and then what is the working relationship like?

There is the experience of working with someone in person, because they are here in New York City where I live, and such was the case with Swedish chef Fredrik Berselius at Aska.  Our editorial meetings were in-person, I was able to walk production tests of the cover to him, and I attended the photo shoot at the restaurant.

But then there is the surprising, wonderful experience of working with someone from afar through video calls and emails and the occasional visit, as was the case with Chilean chef Rodolfo Guzman of Borago.  That was an equally rewarding experience, because I was constantly learning about his food through our conversations and his illustrations of creating a dish (which we ended up using in the book).  I had the pleasure of helping him figure out how to share this magical experience with others around the world, so for people like me (who had yet not travelled to Chile), the book alone would represent his culinary vision in a very inspirational way.

What restaurant book from the current list makes the best gift for a foodie do you think? And why?

Today’s Special is an exciting new book that would make a perfect gift.  We chose 20 leading chefs around the world and asked them each to choose 5 chefs who are paving the way in the future.  That led to a very diverse book of recipes, menus, photos, and essays featuring these 100 exciting new culinary voices – spanning the globe and covering so many different kinds of cuisine.

What are the restaurant books in the new year that people should look out for? Can you tell us about one or two of them?

In 2021, we’re publishing Monk by chef Yoshihiro Imai – his restaurant is on the Philosopher’s Path in Kyoto and is focused on his wood-fired pizzas and hyper-seasonal vegetables. We are also publishing Slippurinn, by chef Gisli Matt of Iceland, and his restaurant is on an island that was covered in volcanic ash in the 1970s. It is a family-run restaurant, but he certainly pushes the boundaries to create incredible contemporary dishes.

Fun question – can you remember your first brush with great food as a kid, what was the restaurant and what sort of impression did it leave on you?

I do remember having sushi for the first time in the 1980s during a visit to New York City when I was about 10 or 12.  My uncle took my family there and I don’t think I’d ever had Japanese food, and certainly not raw fish.  It was a thrilling experience.

In This Issue