Chefs deserve our pity. Critics dissect their every gesture in a search for novelty that is, through no fault of chefs, mostly futile. Dining is just not a novel pursuit: everyone does and has done it since the dawn of time, and any innovation is limited by our physical ability to digest it. What we refer to as innovation is usually clever curation of underacknowledged ingredients or cuisines that were there the whole time.
But not all chefs are clever curators. As a skill, it bears the same relation to cooking as perfumery does to fashion design. Luckily for such chefs, there is another route to celebration and influence. One can simply be incredibly charming.
Some chefs possess both skills, and manage to curate people and culinary styles with ease. But others, like Yves Camdeborde's longtime sous-chef Dai Shinozuka, who last fall took over Marais wine bar space Les Enfants Rouges, seemingly possess neither. These are the ones truly deserving of pity. Les Enfants Rouges under Shinozuka points no new directions in Paris dining, and at first glance manages to underwhelm despite terrific cuisine and serviceable hospitality. But Shinozuka, evidently no fool, has made all criticism moot by opening on Sundays and Mondays, which instantly renders Les Enfants Rouges one of the most useful addresses in Paris, let alone the quality-starved Marais.