Tuesday, September 4, 2018

[Updated] RIP Kenny Shopsin

Kenny Shopsin, described as the "legendary (and legendarily eccentric, ill-tempered, and lovable" chef who owned Shopsin's in the Essex Street Market, died on Sunday. (Jason Kottke was first to report on Shopsin's passing. Updated: Here are tributes via Grub Street and Eater.)

According to the Times, Shopsin was 76. The Times noted that Shopsin had a variety of health issues in recent years.

Before relocating to Essex Street in 2007, Shopsin’s General Store anchored the corner of Bedford and Morton streets starting in 1971.

Per a feature by Calvin Trillin in The New Yorker from 2002:

Normally, mentions of Shopsin's in print are complimentary, in a sort of left-handed way — as in Time Out New York's most recent guide to the city's restaurants, which raved about the soups and described Kenny ("the foul-mouthed middle-aged chef and owner") as "a culinary genius, if for no other reason than he figured out how to fit all his ingredients into such a tiny restaurant." To Kenny's way of thinking, a complimentary mention is worse than a knock. It brings review-trotters — the sort of people who go to a restaurant because somebody told them to. Kenny finds that review-trotters are often "petulant and demanding." Failing to understand that they are not in a completely conventional restaurant, they may be taken aback at having the person next to them contribute a sentence or two to their conversation or at hearing Kenny make a general remark in language not customarily heard in company unless the company is in a locker room or at being faced with deciding among nine hundred items and then, if they have selected certain dishes, having to indicate the degree of spiciness on a scale of one to ten.

There were many Shopsin tributes on Twitter yesterday...

As Brooklyn Vegan pointed out, the 2004 documentary on Shopsin's, titled "I Like Killing Flies," is not available on any streaming services and the DVD is out of print.

There are, however, assorted clips from it on YouTube...


noble neolani said...

I never met this man but I have met several men like him, true philosophers but without the "filler".

archibaldjleach said...

I echo @noble neolani's comment above. I can't believe that I lived in Stuyvesant Town for 60 years and never heard about Shopsin's. I guess it points out the unbelievable diversity of the city. RIP Kenny, it sounds like you were a real pisser, so sorry I didn't know you.

Anonymous said...

Gonna spend the next few days reflecting on my not-so-terrificness. RIP Kenny.

Anonymous said...

RIP Chef
I will rewatch "I Like Killing Flies", in your honor.