Sunday, October 25, 2009

Kenny Shopsin - An American Icon

There really is nothing better than torturing the Commercial St. tourists who come into the store with death metal. I like to find out just how badly they want to purchase a 12 pack of Shipyard Pumpkinhead, or how much they're willing to endure while they figure out on their own that we don't carry pints or half-pints of booze to bring back on their fucking cruise ship. I like instructing the shithead who just left the humidor wide open to go and close it, while I stare at him like he has three heads. It's the little things I can do to fuck with the assholes who are so used to getting their way just because they are "the customer."

It's for this reason, among many others, that Kenny Shopsin is my new culinary hero. Not only is his style of cooking brilliant, but he has a refreshing attitude towards the general public that more people should adapt. His cookbook is called "Eat Me: The Food and Philosophy of Kenny Shopsin," and there is a documentary film about him called "I like killing flies." It's been a long time since I've read a cookbook from cover to cover, but this one sucks you right in. He currently runs his restaurant in the Essex St. market in New York City, and is famous for at times having close to 1000 items on his menu at once. I would strongly urge everyone to purchase the book and rent the movie (which is fun because Don and Samantha from Rabelais make a few appearances).

A couple of my favorite Kenny Shopsin Quotes:

"Pancakes are a luxury, like smoking marijuana or having sex. That’s why I came up with the names Ho Cakes and Slutty Cakes. These are extra decadent, but in a way, every pancake is a Ho Cake."

"Customers in this country have been raised to believe that they are "always right." Their neuroses are coddled and their misbehaviors tolerated for their patronage and their money by every restaurateur in America. But not by ME. My approach at Shopsins 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."

This place is first on my list the next time I'm in New York.


  1. If anyone is interested in purchasing this book, I would suggest Rabelais Books in Portland. A friend told me she tried to get it from Borders but they were out of stock.

  2. This place is incredible. I ate there when it was elsewhere--Carmine Street? It was when cell phones weren't yet ubiquitous, and I remember a prominent sign saying something like "people talking on cell phones will be asked to leave" and being like "woah!" The menu was labyrinthine. You could take a half hour to read it. His attitude is perfectly in line with the restaurant--it was so wonderfully idiosyncratic, you couldn't possibly think it was anything other than the extension of a single person's personality. You were definitely eating at his place, as a guest.
    The food was really good. Diner food done well. Not "holy shit I'm in heaven!" good, but well worth it.