Paul Shoemaker, the hard-skating, sustainability-obsessed chef once found behind the burners at Bastide, Providence, and his own Malibu restaurant, Savory, put a toe into fast-casual waters with last week's debut of his burger concept, Juicy Lucy, at Downtown's Figat7th mall. This week, Shoemaker rolls out his mission for more locations of the locavore burger joint on Food GPS and also touches upon plans for a new pizza concept to be called Biga, named for the same starter that went into his perfect pizza at Savory. Currently, Shoemaker says he's looking at a Juicy Lucy sequel in Colorado and considering expansion to New York, and is conceiving of another version in L.A. that will be "more of a gastropub, more of a wall of beer...more of a sit down counter atmosphere or Father's Office type feel."
But revolutionizing the country's fast-food burger experience with local ingredients and grass-fed beef isn't Shoemaker's end game. He tells the blog, "I want to do a few of these little things, have fun, and I feel like I want to get back into fine dining. That's my background and I miss that cooking. Savory wasn't really there and would never really go there, and I knew that going out there, but I want to get back into that."
The chef is one of many expressing weariness at the decline of fine-dining, saying that "After El Bulli closed...I don't know where it's at...Wheres that next movement?"
His current dream concept involves an intimate space with two seatings a night of 20 diners, where guest-chefs like Thomas Keller and Grant Achatz come in and cook $275 tasting menus, their master sommeliers in tow and cameras on-hand to help broadcast the events. "That would be my ideal fine dining restaurant," Shoemaker tells interviewer Josh Lurie.
Either way, the chef is clearly experiencing no shortage of inspiration and strong ideas, so expect to hear a lot more from him in the days ahead of us.
Interview: Chef Paul Shoemaker (Juicy Lucy) [Food GPS]