The National Institute of Social Sciences hosted “Ten Restaurants That Changed America” on Tuesday, August 7, at Marta, in the Redbury Hotel in New York City. It was sweltering outside, but it was all cool conversation within, as guests enjoyed a catered reception followed by a lively discussion with Paul Freedman, author of “Ten Restaurants That Changed America” (2014?) and Richard Coraine, partner and chief of staff at Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group.
Fred Larsen, the National Institute’s president, welcomed the assembled guests, noting that this was the sort of spirited, interesting dialogue that the organization was committed to hosting.
Professor Freedman asked “if there is such a thing as American cuisine?” The restaurants that he included in his book, which is coming out as a paperback with new material in October, were not necessarily the best, but the most influential, and ranged from Howard Johnson’s to the Four Seasons.
He noted that recent dining trends, as exemplified by Shake Shack, “takes a fairly familiar food and emphasizes the quality of the ingredients.”
Mr. Coraine said that “full-service restaurants are being challenged as never before” but that chefs were “still trying to express creativity,” not only through traditional restaurants but through new venues like food trucks. “There are more choices than there have ever been,” he said.
The gathering drew in participants ranging from Professor Freedman’s former students, to longtime National Institute members, to those drawn by a conversation about the place of restaurants in American culture.