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Jan 9, 2004 11:32 AM

Cooking in Brooklyn: Alan Harding Crashes & Burns

  • c

Caught the new cable show Cooking in Brooklyn starring Alan Harding on Discover Home & Leisure. It was quite possibly the worst television show I have ever seen: a dramatization of Alan's madcap antics with friends while cooking. Laughable: he clearly has no future in TV. And he refuses to give any measurements so the recipes are also useless. If you are curious, perhaps a connoisseur of painful TV, watch right away. It's sure to be cancelled quickly. Too bad it wasn't a REAL exploration of cooking in Brooklyn, touring neighborhoods and talking to cooks (not self-designated "chefs.")

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  1. alan harding is a fraud in general.
    None of his restaurants are infused with real passion for cooking.
    They are just money mills. Too bad he has such a great reputation

    23 Replies
    1. re: Jason Carey

      In all fairness (and I've had more than my share of issues with AH) - I'm not convinced that his restaurants are money mills. He might earn a living but I don't think he's raking it in. I've run into his wife at the supermarket and she drives a battered old Volvo, just like a million others trying to eke out a living and raise kids in an insanely expensive city. Haven't caught the show yet so I have no comment. But money mills? Nah. Take issue with places like Applebees in Metrotech. That's a money mill.

      1. re: Dipsy

        yes you are right. i defer, I just dont get what he wants then.. excellent food certainly is not it.. so what is it?

        1. re: Jason Carey

          I'm partial to the gowanus yacht club. haven't been to pacifico or la rosa. ate brunch at Patois 2 years ago (it was good).

          I think that you can criticize the food but the man has been creating jobs in the neighborhood for years now and who knows how many more because of the attention places brought to the hood.

          I can respect that.

          1. re: mjr_inthegardens

            I'm sorry but i cant respect that. Just because someone creates some jobs does not mean that they are doing something good. For example, people come to smith st a few times. eat at one of these terrible places and then never returns, even though there are also good places, the whole area gets a bad rap. not only do the people not return, but they bad mouth it to their friends. Would you congratulate a bad car mechanic just because they provide jobs?
            I do not have to respect complete mediocrity

            1. re: Jason Carey

              Judging from the number of people who frequent some of the more insipid offerings on Smith St and elsewhere, mediocrity often succeeds and people do return to it.

              Many people like mediocrity even though you personally don't. And as a resident of the area, I certainly don't feel that our part of Brooklyn gets a bad rap for food - in fact, I often find there are more than enough visitors to go around, especially on weekends.

              1. re: Jason Carey

                apparently the mods have a problem with me questioning your dissing of Mr. Harding, but not with your own dissing of Mr. Harding.

                no one is asking you to respect Mr. Harding, but what's the point of tearing him apart personally on Chowhound just because you don't like his food? methinks you protest too much.

                1. re: Jason Carey

                  oh, and by the way, Jason, if you don't like Pacifico, there's a great authentic mex restaurant in the South Bronx i've recommended a few posts down.

                  1. re: korgy

                    By the way, Korgy, thank you for that South Bronx post. I commend you for following your instincts...the rewards sounded unmistakable. You're a true Chowhound.

                    1. re: korgy

                      thanks. btw i'm glad everybody is getting all riled up at me. Sometimes its good for people to have heated discussion. It means they care about the things they are talking about

                      1. re: korgy

                        Dude, there are no authentic mex restaurants in the Bronx. Even Bobby Flay's Mesa Grille is a weak attempt at authentic southwest. Having lived in Southern California my whole life I know authentic Mex. Mostly comes from small Mom & Pop places you probably would not think of going into. As to Mr. Harding's show. It was great. It was campy but very entertaining for what it was trying to do.

                        1. re: fkulikoff

                          That seems so funny because all we have in California and in Palm Springs where I live is Mexican and Southwest.
                          I was born in Brooklyn but left when I was 2 years old so...I only kne California food and all you hear here is...........The meat here isn't ;like New York..The Pizza here isn't like New York and Nathan's......... my whole life.!!!

                          1. re: fkulikoff

                            re Mexican food in NYC

                            that may have been true 15 years ago.

                        2. re: mjr_inthegardens

                          creating jobs in the neighborhood? does he really hire locals? does he even hire newcomers? maybe he does, but i don't know anyone who has worked at his restaurants. the service is so wretched that i doubt the people who work there live in the same neighborhood as the customers. i certainly would be ashamed to treat my neighbors the way i got treated at patois, pacifico or uncle pho, anyway.

                          it is more embarassing than anything. i only went to pacifico because i hadn't realized yet it was run by alan harding.

                        3. re: Jason Carey

                          I have enjoyed many meals in Alan Hardings Restaurants. Alan has revitalized Smith Street and has contributed a great deal to Brooklyn with his money, experience and hard work. His great food at reasonable prices in a comfortable atmosphere has always been a great dinning experience. I highly recomend his resturants. The Chowhound seems to want to put down people just because of a little success. I suggest that people try his restuarants and judge for themselfs I'm sure your first experience will not be your last.

                          1. re: Jason Carey

                            WHAT ARE YOU A FOOD CRITIC.?

                            1. re: DESERTLOX

                              if you read my comment you would see that I wasn't criticizing Alan. I loved Alan's show Cooking in Brooklyn. And yes I saw him kick ass on Chopped. I was commenting on Korgi's comment about the great Mex food in the South Bronx.

                              1. re: fkulikoff

                                I'm glad you saw Chopped because Alan neede exposure.
                                What happened to him?
                                He looks different lost a lot of weight and I heard divorced his wife.
                                Do you know what's up with him.?

                                1. re: DESERTLOX

                                  I'd like to hit his food truck and find out, he does not look at all the same.

                                  1. re: iL Divo

                                    He doesn't look the same. When I saw him on Chopped I figuredout who he was by his voice..not his look. He looks like he lost 50 pounds and put gel in his hair.

                                    I also heard his wife left so maybe he is depressed and going througha a bad time.
                                    That'll do it..!!!

                          2. re: Dipsy
                            Scott Berkman

                            I haven't seen the show. But what really burns me is that of all the restaurants in New York City, both New York Magazine and Time Out choose only two or three to represent Brooklyn in their listings, and for the last several weeks both have picked Schnack - Hardings latest culinary example of the Emperors New Clothes. Can you imagine ever making that your top pick out of all the restaurants in Brooklyn? If it wasn't such a hellhole I would think he were paying them off in free meals. What gives? Good thing no one with any sense actually pays much attention to what either of them say....

                          3. re: Jason Carey





                            PALM SPRINGS LOVED ALAN HARDING.


                            HE WON.

                          4. I agree. And I reall don't entirely get what the whole 'Brooklyn connection' was, considering how generic the show was. Nothing felt like it was Brooklyn specific, no restaurants or stores or highlights of Brooklyn cuisine were so much as mentioned.

                            I will stand corrected, though - as I turned it off during the first commercial, it was so painful.

                            1. The original comment has been removed
                              1. Here's my take on the restos in the Harding empire: Decent to excellent appetizers, lousy to inedible mains and really excellent spaces. You can blame him for the food but not credit him for the spaces, that's usually Jim's part. I loved Schnack and will miss it dearly, I had a pie that I can only describe as foul at DeRosa and loved the GYC before it became Pinhead Central (but who can Eff-up a grilled sausage and a pint?).

                                The show's pretty lame, I'm with you there. I can't believe it's still being aired. That's a high-double-digit cable channel for ya!

                              2. I ran in to AH at the Zombie Hut one night. I am from NJ and did not know he owned it. I went up to him and told him his show keeps me up all night waiting for it to come on at 1:30AM. He was a total d*&^. He ignored me and walked away. Why would anyone film a cooking show be like that when a fan approches them? No wonder the shows are all re-runs now.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Piso

                                  Because you reminded AH that his shows now air only around 1:30AM. LOL I'll bet he took it the wrong way...thought you were insulting him. I loved his shows. The same way I was first repulsed, then drawn to "Barney, the Purple Dinosaur" when my kids first started watching it. It was like I couldn't take my eyes away. Then I was just drawn in by morbid curiosity. To be honest, I wish he'd do more. I'd like to see new episodes of Alan Harding, Cookin' in Brooklyn.

                                2. I don't know chapter and verse what establishments this person owns, and I have never watched his show--but I gather from the comments below that, among his other offerings, he owns Gowanus Yacht Club and Patois.

                                  While GYC may have become more overrun with types that others find annoying over the past couple of years, I've been going for several years and still manage to have a nice time soaking up the sun, drinking beer and eating sausage. I don't tend to go to places for the crowd or the scene, and could generally care less whether all the people at the next table are wearing black and smoking Gitanes (except to wonder pityingly why one would wear black in the middle of the summer) or whatever it is the kids are doing these days--I tend to bring all the people I intend to talk to (other than the server person) with me. It's not a bad place if you don't have your own back yard or someone else's backyard to borrow and want to drink and eat sausages outside.

                                  I haven't been to Patois in a few years (in fact, I thought it closed?), but I did have a couple of very nice meals there. Don't really make it over to that neighborhood as much as I used to, and when I go now, it's generally for the steak au poivre at Quercy....