Giuseppe Tentori: The making of a celebrity chef

Scenes from the opening of GT Fish & Oyster.

Photograph: Chris Strong


BOKA, DEC 10, 2010

The Reporter asks GT the type of restaurant he wanted to open most.

GT: If I have all this freedom to do whatever I want, the next restaurant I really want to open, it might be Italian-driven with a few different idea in mind.

Flashback to Rob and Kevin's office, Nov 4, 2010

ROB: We wanted his name up there because we feel…we want to make chefs the focal point of our company. We are a chef-driven restaurant group. But at the end of the day, we’re still, obviously, very active in 100 percent of every single detail that happens inside of these restaurants….This is the restaurant that we wanted to have. And we wanted to also bring in Giuseppe as our partner. He’s excited to be doing this. Does he want to open an Italian restaurant? I’m sure he does. And eventually, we can do all those things. But for the time, this is what we wanted to do right now. And we wanted to bring him along with us!

But next on deck for Boka Restaurant Group is another project with Izard. And they'll soon be announcing a partnership with a chef they've never worked with before.

Meanwhile, back at Boka, GT is very excited about chowder.

GT: You know, you can go to this beautiful Shaw's Crab House or whatever sushi place, but where can you go out for let’s go get some oyster bar. Let’s go get a glass of Champagne. Let’s go get some chowder! Hey, I want a lobster roll! Where I’m gonna go get it?


BOKA, NOV 19, 2010

GT scuttles between the dining room and the Boka kitchen, where two visiting chefs—Dave LeFevre from Los Angeles and Scott Alderson from Florida—invited by The Restaurateurs have begun five days of tinkering with the GT Fish & Oyster menu. Boka serves as the test kitchen, and also the set for an episode of a Web-video series produced by Boehm’s small film company for the GT blog. Which is why, in the narrow galley, there is also the Video Guy, fumbling his boom on a pot resting on two pans over a sink while going in for a tight shot of roasted tomatoes. He winces; nothing tips. Potato chips are frying, mussels are steaming open, and the air takes on the sweet, earthy inclination of garlic.

KEVIN MCCONKEY: It’s like an atelier. You know, a studio. Where you have people come in and bounce ideas off each other.

Sorry, who is Kevin McConkey? In the dining room: A round table is set for seven, water glasses are full, the cameras perch. Two Video Guys hover around the table, holding a boom above the center, and the group—The Restaurateurs, The Director of Operations, The Manager, McConkey (menu designer and cofounder of Grip)—takes its seats.

KEVIN BOEHM: This has nothing to do with vessel, nothing to do with size. It only has to do with taste.

They are here for a tasting. But also for the filming. And as such, considerations are made not just for the taste of various crab cakes and clam chowders but for Anthony Bourdain–inspired one-liners (McConkey’s “This is the fish and chips other fish and chips think about when they masturbate” line makes it into the five-minute video); for theme (“Tupac vs. Biggie” ends up as the video title); for image (Boehm gently tells GT a particular chowder needs a little bit more salt; Boehm tells the Video Guy, “That’ll be edited out.”); and for structure (“A closing would be great as well,” one Video Guy reminds Boehm during filming). Every so often, The BlackBerry announces itself.

The food is classic—crab cakes, chowder, lobster rolls, mussels—but it is GT, too. That means light, delicate—the touch of a hand that can construct black-truffle terrines in its sleep. GT’s chowder is so unconventional that McConkey has some questions.

MCCONKEY: Do you address the chowder at all on the menu? In case people are thinking, I’m gonna get this big, thick, honking New England clam chowder? Do you say: a thinner stock, lighter version?

GT: The server is going to explain how to read the menu. Because it’s not the usual appetizer, entrée, desserts and side.

In the future, all plates are shared.