BEST LOCAL CHEF - 2002
Some people have accused us of sleeping with Tim McKee, as this marks the millionth year in a row we're giving him Best Chef. It's an intriguing thought and all, but the sad truth is we've never actually met the guy face to face, which makes the logistics a little more magical than we're really looking for, thank you very much. Seriously, it isn't the action beneath the table that sets us all aflutter. It's the good stuff on the table: Salt cod croquettes don't sound like much, till you get one of McKee's, which is like a bursting truffle of sea-foam oomph. No one around these parts pulls off a complicated bit of technical prowess like a duck confit Napoleon with frisée and a Parmesan tuile like McKee can--a dozen varieties of texture rendered clear yet related, as a row of elements on a periodic table. And sometimes things go on with cuts of lamb and piles of lentils that cloud the mind. But they don't cloud the mind that way, you gutter rats. Frankly, we don't want to know a thing about McKee's childhood, musculature, or habits when left alone with cartons of milk. That's the joy of restaurants, people: the pure, sensory bliss delivered by another person about whom you're not obligated to know a single solitary thing.