Breaking Bread with ...

Chef and owner of Gothan Bar and Grill Alfred Portale talks culinary success.

Oct 3, 2007

How important are the three-star New York Times ratings to chefs?

There is no chef in NY that does not care. [If they say they don't] it's bullshit. They mean a lot -- they're huge. We're waiting to get another review; it's been quite awhile. But the NY Times is quite important I think in NY. When I first got my three stars, there were only 16 three-star restaurants in the city. That was a major big deal, and the other 15 were all, besides The Quilted Giraffe and maybe Chanterelle, they were all French and they all wore tuxedos and [were] when we got four stars it really changed the playing field going forward forever. Here was a casual, really young chef in a big restaurant doing 300 dinners...moderate prices, casual in some ways -- how did they get three stars? So that changed the whole dynamic.

I know accessibility is important to you -- so how do you make it accessible so that a foodie would be satisfied but someone could come in and not feel stupid?

Well, the restaurant is very different than it was 20 years ago -- it's extremely upscale right now. The food, the presentation, the wine program, the service -- everything about this restaurant is fantastic. So, there was a time it was a little more casual, but not anymore. It hasn't been for years.