Comfort Food Goes Upscale

In this undated screen grab image taken from video, Nick Rosen is seen during an interview with The Associated Press in Cologne, Germany. Rosen says he was paid $20,000 for donating a kidney that saved a New York man. (AP Photo) AP PHOTO

Standing alongside chef Charlie Palmer, CBS News Correspondent Richard Schlesinger questions the ease of one of Palmer's comfort food recipes.

"It's not hard to do at all. I mean if you've got a Cuisinart at home, just throw your stuff in there and puree it," Palmer explains.

Palmer cannot leave well enough alone.

He has cooked up a very uncommon spin-off of a very common food.

The classic American, corndog; except, Palmer's version has very little to do with the corn and nothing to do with the dog.

"We put it on a stick, just like the corndogs in the fair, you know," Palmer tells Schlesinger.

Schelsinger quips to Palmer that it "is the only thing like a corn dog that you do."

In his defense, Palmer replies, "Well, the corn dog at the fair is not as tasty, I don't think."

Actually it's a very different recipe. Charlie Palmer's corndogs are made with lobster.

Asked if he felt compelled to improve the corndog, Palmer answered in the affirmative. "Well yeah," Palmer says, "they were made with hotdogs."

He and other well-known restaurateurs have decided the distance between down home and upscale isn't that great in the world of food.

"We take those things and kind of upgrade them," Palmer explains. "Give them a little twist, a little finesse, but it still has those flavors and those textures that people identify from their childhood."

Charlie Palmer's lobster corn dogs cost $9, three times the price of more conventional corn dogs…

And they are very popular at his place on Capitol Hill.

In an industry that invented the flavor of the month, this kind of comfort food for the very comfortable has staying power.

"Comfort food is absolutely moving upscale," claims New York restaurant owner Danny Meyer.

Meyer owns one of New York's hottest restaurants and serves barbeque, not the roadside kind unless the road you're referring to is Park Avenue, which is nearby. This is simple food in very fancy surroundings.

"Whoever wrote the rule that a really juicy, sherry like Syrah or San Giovessi wouldn't go just as well with ribs as Dr. Pepper?" Meyer asks.

The ribs share the menu with macaroni and cheese made with three kinds of gourmet cheese, none of which comes out of a can.

The dressed up barbeque did so well, Meyer started serving dolled-up burgers at a snack bar in a nearby park and most days there's a line of people eager to order.

While you can get a burger here quickly, this is anything but fast-food.

"It's not fancy, it's just good," Meyer says. "It's freshly ground daily from brisket and sirloin.

It's a lot fancier than most food at most snack shacks in most places and a sure sign that more and more good old-fashioned cooking just isn't good enough.
  • Sean Alfano

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