The Decade in Eating

From the debut of Iron Chef to the closing of Gourmet, check out these 25 moments that changed food in the aughts.

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2008, The Kogi Korean BBQ Taco Truck Debuts: The Kogi Truck is a movement, really, and hordes of Twitter followers flock to wherever the truck tweets that it has parked. By the end of the aughts, trucks had replaced ethnic dives as the official junk food of foodies.
The aughts saw the debut of Iron Chef and the closing of Gourmet, and the ascent of giants like Tom Colicchio (who opened his flagship restaurant, Craft, in 2001). And so much more. Here now, 25 moments that changed food in the 2000s.
Suministrada / McCarran Int'l Airport Las Vegas
2000, Blue Hill Opens: Chez Painesse, in Berkley, opened more than two decades before, of course, but chef Dan Barber and his NY restaurant Blue Hill get credit for setting the locavore tone for the decade.
2000, Milk & Honey Opens: The "mixologist" was born in the aught years, as was the nouvelle speakeasy, and NY's Milk & Honey was the first of both. Unmarked entrance, password entry, painstakingly sourced and prepared cocktails now prevail at bars in any American city worth its weight in whiskey.
2000, Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential Drops: Boudain's seminal first book debuted in 2000, and ever since eaters have known to never eat sushi on Mondays. The book changed the way diners look at their restaurants and jump started Bourdain's now epic career as chef-explorer.
Food Network
2001, Iron Chef America with William Shatner Debuts: The Americanization of Iron Chef, the legendary Japanese game show import, began in 2001 when William Shatner hosted a series of specials.
2001, Jonathan Gold's Counter Intelligence Debuts at LA Weekly: Though it had run elsewhere in earlier years, Jonathan Gold has been chronicling the indie food scene for Los Angeles at LA Weekly for almost a decade. In 2007 he became the first writer ever to win a Pulitzer Prize for criticism.
2002, South Beach Wine & Food Festival Debuts: The annual February event is now the ultimate testament to the power of the celebrity chef, attracting thousands of rabid food fans annually to pay upwards of $500 a ticket to get this close to Mario Batali.
2003, The San Francisco Ferry Building Re-opens: In 2007 the locavore movement hit the mainstream when Oxford named "locavore" its word of the year. The Ferry Building, with SF's largest greenmarket, has been the epicenter of SF's intensely local food culture since it reopened in 2003.
2003, Manresa Opens: Alongside the Ferry Building is Manresa, the patriarch of SF's new school farm-to-table trend. Many noted locavore chefs got their start at Manresa, including Jermey Fox, whose vegetarian Ubuntu is fast becoming seen as the second coming of vegetarianism.
2003, WD-50 Opens: New York's WD-50, Wylie Dufresne's 50-seat Lower East Side restaurant, is the precursor to such molecular gastronomic temples as Alinea. El Bulli in Spain pre-dates WD but the latter remains the stateside capital of culinary acrobatics.
2003, The Restaurant Airs on NBC: Effectively ending Rocco Dispirito's restaurant career (he's said he'll never cook in a restaurant again) and kicking-off a decade of chef-based reality TV, The Restaurant's summer 2003 Season One run ended with record ratings. Season Two was a bust.
2004, The Spotted Pig Opens: The size and tenor of restaurants changed significantly in 2004 with the entrance of The Spotted Pig and Momofuku Noodle Bar, both in NY. These two restaurants -- small, quirky, crowded and aggressively casual -- remain the benchmarks for casual dining in the United States.
News4's Zachary Kiesch
2004, Momofuku Noodle Bar Opens: Along with the Spotted Pig, Momofuku Noodle Bar would change the template for casual dining in the United States. Additionally, as David Chang's debut restaurant, it is the birthplace of a burgeoning empire.
2004, Shake Shack Opens: No place or person has had as significant a role in (re-)ushering in the age of the burger than the Shake Shack. It's popularized hybrid LA-Midwest style burger is now distinctly the New York "street" standard.
2005, Wynn Las Vegas Opens: Steve Wynn's Las Vegas Casino and Hotel changed the rules for Las Vegas restaurants. Wynn insisted his chefs be present for long periods of time, and in exchange he spared no cost on operations, redefining high-end restaurants in the US.
MyNews 3 / NBC
2005, The Food Blogs Cometh: With Eater (2005), GrubStreet (2006), Diners Journal (2006), Serious Eats (2006) and so many more, the Aught years brought on the age of the food blogs. For decades, chefs and restaurants enjoyed a mostly friendly relationship with the press, but blogs changed all the rules.
Alex Matthews
2005, Alinea Opens: Grant Achatz's (rhymes with "packets") temple of molecular gastronomy sealed Chicago's spot on the culinary map, for sure. (Previously, the windy city's cred was based mostly on its street food.) Now Alinea is considered the most important culinary lab in the United States.
2005, Pinkberry Opens The arrival of Pinkberry, a modest storefront on a residential block of West Hollywood, made Americans crazier about frozen yogurt than we'd even been -- and crazier about soft-serve than we thought possible.
Suministrada / UMC
2006, The Second Avenue Deli Closes: The legendary 2nd Ave. Deli, which occupied a choice corner in NY's East Village for decades, was pushed out to make way for a Chase Bank. It's closure was indicative of a real estate sea change of independent operators being pushed out by big names.
Getty Images
2006 The Michelin Guide Debuts Stateside in NY: The Red Book's arrival in NY, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Las Vegas (it has since retreated from LA and Vegas) created a new type of hysteria, especially among French-trained chefs, for whom Michelin has long been the ultimate standard.
2006 Top Chef Debuts: It's fair to say the world hasn't been the same since Top Chef first aired in the summer of 2006. In addition being the best way for a lazy chef to get famous, Top Chef solidified Tom Colicchio's place at the top of the food chain, and changed how people think about restaurant chefs.
Foto: KSNV
2006 Alan Richman vs. The City of New Orleans: Every decade needs a good food fight, and the one that pitted Alan Richman versus Nola was epic. Post Hurricane Katrina, Richman penned a brutal takedown of the city's restaurant offerings, prompting Brett Anderson of the Times-Picayune to pen a lengthy rebuttal.
2007, Alain Ducasse NY Closes: Alain Ducasse, one of the world's most celebrated chefs, offered diners a choice of pens for check signing at his eponymous Alain Ducasse NY, which opened in 2000. Its closing set the tone for the tough times that lay ahead for the restaurant business in NY.
2008, The Kogi Korean BBQ Taco Truck Debuts: Los Angeles' Kogi Truck is a movement, really, and hordes of Twitter followers flock to wherever the truck tweets that it has parked. By the end of the aughts, trucks were the new ethnic dives.
Ellsworth Handcrafted Bicycles Facebook page
2009, Julie & Julia Debuts: A food movie based on a food book based on a food blog based on Julie Powel's quest to cook all 524 recipes in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking. The cookbook, and the blog, come full circle.
2009, Gourmet Magazine Folds: Ruth Reichl and her staff were given less than 24-hours notice to vacate their offices when Conde Nast decided to close up its iconic food magazine, which debuted in 1947. The worst economy in decades and the the marked decline of print made the seminal move all but inevitable.
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