Superstition in the Kitchen | ZAGAT SURVEY

20090213_nyc_friday13th_toofarnorthIN THE SPIRIT of infamously unlucky Friday the 13th, the Buzz uncovered some curious superstitions at local restaurants.

Chef Scott Bryan of Apiary admits that superstitions are a part of his daily routine. When plating food, Bryan will only add an odd number of, say, asparagus to a dish. “Always three or five of something. Never an even number.” Above all, he does not allow whistling in the kitchen. “It’s bad luck,” he asserts. But Bryan’s not the only one putting the odd-number principle into practice. Jonathan Russell, a bartender at Savoy, observes an old bar tradition by reaching for one or three garnishes when making cocktails for customers.

And then there’s the dreaded 13. Apparently, it’s not just the number missing on elevator panels. According to Corton restaurant director Arleene Oconitrillo, “Most restaurants do not have a Table 13,” including her TriBeCa home base.

For others, superstitions have more to do with timing. At Tribeca Grill, executive sous chef Michael Sobelman refuses to shave during Restaurant Week, while over at Porchetta, chef-owner Sara Jenkins tries to set the tone for the rest of the year by ensuring New Year’s Eve operations run as smoothly as possible.

But not everyone worries about bad mojo. Savoy’s sous chef Jon Katz surrenders superstition for pragmatism. “When it comes to spilt salt,” he says, “I don’t toss it over my shoulder because with a kitchen this small, I’m gonna hit a guy in the face.”

(Superstition in the Kitchen first appeared on ZAGAT.com 2/13/09. Image by TooFarNorth).

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September 9, 2009. Manhattan, ZAGAT SURVEY.

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