10 Minutes with: Steve Plotnicki, Opinionated About Dining

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 28th March 2017

Steve Plotnicki is the founder of the high-end food blog ‘Opinionated About Dining’. The success of his blog has led Steve to create a list celebrating exemplary restaurants across Europe, operated by chefs who have consistently served the same style of cuisine for the past twenty-five years.

After leaving the music world behind him, Steve launched a discussion forum in 2003 to discuss his passion for food with likeminded individuals. As the blog continued to evolve and attract new readers Steve was able to collate the opinions and reviews of his peers to form the site’s 100 Best Restaurants list which was set up in 2012.

Following this year’s top 100 Classical and Heritage Restaurants list which was revealed earlier today, The Staff Canteen caught up with Steve to discuss the lists, how he feels about casual dining and where he sees fine dining in the future. 

Forging a successful career for himself within the music industry, Steve was co-founder of the record label, Profile Records before choosing to pursue his true passion, food.

“I was always a foodie even when I was in the music business,” said Steve. “Opinionated About Dining came out of what I needed to do with my idle time after I sold my record company.”

top 100
Top 100+ Classical & Heritage Restaurants 2017

What originally started out as a blog where Steve could share his mutual love of culinary cuisine with others, the forum quickly evolved and Steve soon garnered recognition for being one of the prolific early food bloggers at the time. Although the site now has over 5,000 reviewers worldwide, Steve insists only 200 hardcore foodies determine who really make up the lists.

Reviewers who sign up are assigned a rate based on the quantity and quality of the restaurants they review. Collating the reviewer information, a formal survey was established in 2012 which formed the Best 100 Restaurants lists covering America, Europe, and Japan.

Franck Giovannini, B.Violier Restaurant de l'Hôtel de Ville in Crissier, Lausanne

Top of the list: Franck Giovannini

B.Violier Restaurant

de l'Hôtel de Ville in Crissier, Lausanne

What began as just one list, Steve soon found he needed to set up multiple ones to cater for the wide community of food lovers.

“Within the dining community they are people who like to eat tacos and people who like to eat exploding tacos and having them all on the same list was something I did at the beginning and as the list evolved and more people came on it made more sense to have separate lists to for each distinct group of diners in the community.”

One of the new lists to come about was the Top 100 Classical and Heritage list. A list that was set up following complaints Steve noticed from the fine dining community about other lists focusing on latest trends rather than classical forms of cooking.

“Even the most cutting edge chef has a soft spot in their heart for the grand regional dining restaurant, a uniquely European experience which reminds us of the way we used to eat with our parents and grandparents,” said Steve.

Adding: “It’s designed to correct the problems I have found with the other lists and their voting systems. It gives you a much more realistic review of the dining scene through the eyes of the serious destination diners.”

The Top 100 Classical and Heritage list was first established in 2016 featuring just 100 restaurants worldwide. This year the top spot went to Franck Giovannini who now heads the kitchens of the B.Violier Restaurant de l'Hôtel de Ville, as successor to Benoît Violier, of which he was the head chef.

matt abe
Matt Abé

>>> Related: 'World's best chef' Benoit Violier found dead in apparent suicide

He leads a team of more than twenty highly skilled and experienced people, who he knows perfectly well. Having shared with Benoît Violier 20 years of friendship and work at Crissier in the service of culinary excellence, he now has the responsibility of designing the restaurant's cards to the rhythm of the seasons, in the continuity of the work accomplished by Frédy Girardet, Philippe Rochat and Benoît Violier.

The first British restaurant to appear in this year's list is at number 32, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay and head chef Matt Abé take this position behind mainly French based restaurants.

>>> Related: Matt Abé and the team at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay top the 2016 Ultimate London Restaurant List

Speaking about this year’s list Steve revealed that 200 restaurants would make the cut but this time would just be limited to Europe.

Asked why it would just be limited to Europe, Steve said: “I’m trying to create enough content for that very unique list for each category on each continent.”

Since Opinionated About Dining was first established back in 2003 a lot has changed in the industry since then, casual dining for one has become a lot more prominent with gastro pubs and more relaxed dining featuring in the bigger lists such as the Michelin Guide. Steve believes class has a lot to do with this.

Steve quote feat“I think one of the ways it has become democratised is by not making class such an important part of the experience.” He continues, “So what you’re really left with is that only formal French restaurants are places where people really dress up and where class really plays a role in the meal nowadays.”

With fine dining becoming more casual Steve believes the concept of dining in general has become stuck and needs a change before it can move forward.

“I don’t think there’s a lot of progress being made right now. Dining sort of evolves the same time that kitchen equipment evolves and I don’t think there have been any real breakthroughs in kitchen equipment over the last 10 years.”

When asked what he makes of the future of fine dining Steve simply said: “Tell me who is going to an invent something that cooks food in a completely different way and then I can answer the question.”

** See the full Top 100+ Classical & Heritage Restaurants 2017 list here

By Michael Parker

@canteenparker

>>> Read more in our 10 Minutes With series here

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 28th March 2017

10 Minutes with: Steve Plotnicki, Opinionated About Dining