Saturday, October 31, 2009

TC News & Information 10.31.09

Top Chef News & Information
Stephanie Izard has chosen the winner of the Chicago Now RedEye contest to become her sous chef for a day. See the winning dish here.

Sunday, November 1st, Women Chefs & Restaurateurs presents the 10th annual Women Who Inspire gala. Carla Hall, "Top Chef" finalist, will be mistress of ceremonies. $195. 6-7 p.m. reception, 7-10 p.m. dinner. The Ritz-Carlton, 1150 22nd St. NW. Washington, DC.

Pasadena Magazine has a feature on cover boy Michael Voltaggio. Here's a copy of the article in PDF format. (Thanks to reader hey_lem!)

Buy Padma on HSN: Through the Easy Exotic collection, Padma will share her South Indian heritage and appreciation for old-world flavors and fresh botanicals with her new collection of cutlery, tea pots, spices, rubs and two of her cookbooks: Tangy Tart Hot and Sweet: A World of Recipes for Every Day and Easy Exotic. "I've always believed in the beauty of cooking with friends and family at home. I'm excited to debut the Easy Exotic brand on HSN and infusing a bit of spice into the lives of their customers," says Lakshmi. (Reuters)

Check out the Zeno Supper Club, a social experiment to see what happens when you bring interesting people together with food, drink, and a creative environment. Webisodes are based on Season 1 cheftestant Lee Ann Wong's cooking classes.

Padma Lakshmi will appear as herself on NBC comedy 30 Rock on November 12th, discussing things culinary with Alex Baldwin's Jack Donaghy.

Meet Kevin Gillespie's doppelganger.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Exit Interview with Mike Isabella

Michael Isabella talks about his experience on Top Chef and his restaurant Zaytinya. Thanks Mike!

Click here for the podcast.

Exit Interview - Mike Isabella

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Video du Jour - Cooking Fall Dishes with Laurine Wickett

Congratulations, Chef Gillespie!

Chef Kevin Gillespie took home his FOURTH win this week, with a "meaty" duo of mushrooms, smoked kale and two types of turnips. The judges, including guest judge (and vegetarian) Natalie Portman, praised the meal's rich flavor, saying it proves that vegetarian meals don't have to be light all the time.

Several guests - and Tom Colicchio - commented that Kevin's dish was satisfying enough that they did not even miss meat - high praise indeed.

This post is only for positive words for Chef Gillespie. If you have anything negative to say about him or another chef, please click here.

ATC Love to Chef Isabella

This week, we said goodbye to Chef Michael Isabella. Chef Isabella underwhelmed the chefs with undercooked leeks and lackluster carrots and potatoes.

Though the diners praised the colors and overall presentation, they couldn't get past the dish's lack of protein and the ultimate presentation of the leeks, which Tom Colicchio called "rare."

This post is only for positive words for Chef Isabella. If you have anything negative to say about him or another chef, please click here.

Reactions to Top Chef Las Vegas Episode 10

This week, our intrepid cheftestants split their time between cooking gourmet-ified TV dinners inspired by classic TV shows for the TV Guide-Isn't-Even-Food-Related Quickfire and running out the clock making vegetarian meals for an impossibly adorable Natalie Portman.

The judges favorite dishes came from Michael V. (full of humor, and somehow tasty, too), Eli ("I'm not in the middle anymore! The Force is with me!"), and Kevin (mushrooms=meat). Kevin took home the big prize - his fourth so far this season - and he even won the Quickfire, too, for his Sopranos-inspired meatballs. Lucky guy is probably installing that suite of GE appliances in his home kitchen right now.

Less lucky were Jen (so nervous she spilled sauce on the diners), Robin (aka Jesse Spano during the very special "speed" episode of Saved by the Bell), and Mike Isabella (do I even have to call him DoucheyMike?). In spite of his self-confidence, which appears quite sincere, and the fact that his mom was a vegan when he was a kid...and that he cooks about 20 vegetarian dishes at his restaurant (which is, by all accounts, excellent), Mike Isabella was PPYKAG'ed, leaving the mansion minus one d-bag.

A few questions and thoughts on this episode:
  • Top Chef frozen dinners? Seriously, Bravo? At what point does the whoring stop? WHEN WILL YOU HAVE MADE ENOUGH MONEY OFF THIS FRANCHISE?
  • Padma and jumpsuits. Discuss.
  • In a movie star/vegetarian girlfight, who would win: Natalie Portman or Zooey Deschanel? What if each one could only use her cuteness as a weapon?
  • Is it possible that Jen, who's been one of my favorites since the very start, is actually going to implode before the finale? I do not want to hear this.
  • As a corollary to the above, Robin is actually still there? 85% of the viewers who voted in Bravo's poll want her out. Is this not American Idol? Oh, right.
  • Things we learned about the cheftestants this week: Robin wasn't allowed to watch TV as a child, Kevin likes frozen food (all food, actually), Michael V. is a bad loser (even when he doesn't totally lose), Jen is looking for a guy to drag her around by her hair, and Eli is a Star Wars nerd. I'm guessing he is not the guy Jen's looking for.
  • And Kevin. Sweet, sweet Kevin. Kevin who lives on the same street as his whole family, who eats breakfast with his grandmother every day, and who, with his wife, gives up meat for all of Lent. The pig guy who wins the vegetarian challenge. Could you have captured my heart anymore? I don't even miss my gay boyfriend Ash anymore thanks to you.
But what did you think? Was Michael V. robbed? What about Mike I.? Will Jen make it? Can Kevin get any better? Please leave a comment with your thoughts...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Chat with the PPYKAG'd Chef!

Have questions you'd like to ask each week's eliminated chef? Fancast is hosting live chats each Thursday at 11:30 am EST/9:30 am PST; the content is entirely fan-driven — everyone can feel free to send in their own questions.

Click here for more info and to set an e-mail reminder.

TC News & Information 10.28.09

Top Chef News & Information
NY's City Food Tours is offering a Top Chef walking tour to several venues featured in the fifth season of Top Chef. Read the account of someone who took the tour here. Sounds like fun!

Coffee Bar in San Francisco is presenting special dinners by Laurine Wickett on November 7th and November 10. Click here for more details.

Hosea Rosenberg and Stephanie Izard prepared a 6-course meal for the Friends of James Beard Benefit dinner in Milwaukee last week. They also answered a couple of TC-related questions for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinal. Click here to read.

Las Vegas Weekly offers this week's odds here, and SkilletDoux lists his Power Rankings here.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Top Chef Las Vegas Episode 10 Previews

Top Chef: Just Desserts

Network Kicks Off Nationwide Casting Calls

NEW YORK - October 26, 2009 - Today, Bravo announced the series pickup of its newest culinary competition series entitled "Top Chef: Just Desserts," a spin-off of the Emmy and James Beard Award-winning "Top Chef." The series will consist of pastry chefs competing against one another in a series of challenges. Open calls for chefs interested in competing in the high-stakes culinary competition series will be held in cities across the country starting on October 26. The announcement was made by Frances Berwick, Executive Vice President and General Manager, Bravo Media.

For additional casting information and to download an application, visit "Top Chef: Just Desserts" casting calls are as follows:

Monday, October 26, 10:00 AM - 2:00 PM
Wells on Wells

Wednesday, November 4, 10:00 AM - 2:00 PM
Occidental Grill & Seafood at Willard InterContinental Hotel

Wednesday, November 4, 10:00 AM - 2:00 PM
The Westin Boston Waterfront

Sunday, November 8, 10:00 AM - 2:00 PM
Craft Restaurant

Sunday, November 8, 10:00 AM - 2:00 PM

Wednesday, November 11, 10:00 AM - 2:00 PM

Wednesday, November 11, 10:00 AM - 2:00 PM

Sunday, November 15, 10:00 AM - 2:00 PM
Craft Restaurant

Sunday, November 15, 10:00 AM - 2:00 PM
The Benson Hotel

The Emmy-nominated Magical Elves will produce "Top Chef: Just Desserts." Dan Cutforth, Jane Lipsitz ("Top Chef," "Top Chef Masters," "Project Runway," "Top Design") and Casey Kriley serve as executive producers.

Read more about the show here.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Recap Roundup: Top Chef Las Vegas Episode 9

This week on Top Chef: Restaurant Wars! Blindfolds! Broken sauces! And bloggers...

Cliffieland on our first glimpse of Bikini Jen: "Chef Jennifer is in a bikini, which really does beg for commentary. Hence here ‘tis. Great chef. Great bod. No ass."

Jordan Baker on the good and the bad: "Let me put it this way: it may, as Tom claims, have included the best restaurant they’ve had at any restaurant during Restaurant Wars, but it was also the most boring of all Restaurant Wars."

Minx Eats on our teams: "I am dubbing the teams 'Team Bicker,' comprising Michael, Bryan, Eli, and Robin, and 'Team DickHer,' Kevin, DoucheyMike, Laurine, and Jen. Kevin is neither a dick nor a her, but I couldn't convince Jen to trade him for Eli just to make my name work out better."

Reality Check (Baltimore Sun) on Restaurant War's best improvement: "The biggest shock of Restaurant Wars this season is the cheftestants don't have to plan the decor of the restaurant! They aren't given some shoddy warehouse space or tent to turn into a restaurant." on Blue's bad early decision: "In a bizarre decision, the blue team chooses Laurine for front of the house. Out of all of them, I think she's the worst choice; she exudes no warmth or personableness." quickly summarizes: "Things quickly went downhill for Jen’s team. The chefs seemed stalled and distracted — and so did Laurine, who wasn’t ready for the diners when they arrived. Preparations were much smoother for Michael’s team, though he and Robin sniveled over her dessert, cursing at each other and fighting."

Entertainment Weekly on the recess-style team selection: "It was actually kind of sad when Robin had to go to the red side out of process of elimination — like the kid who gets picked last at dodgeball."

Christenam on the Voltaggio boys (about whom the bloggers are seriously mixed): "This is the point where I have to admit that the Voltaggio brothers have grown on me. I gave them a bad rep, since they seemed like such cocky jerks, but they can back it up and aren't completely douchey."

Eater LA speculates: "What I think I am saying is that whoever of the two [brothers] wins (assuming Kevin leaves the show because he gets sent on an errand to Rivendell by Gandalf) gets to sleep with Padma. Maybe one of them is the father and that's why she can't announce it?!"

Omnivore Atlanta on Jen: "Over the past few weeks Jen has cooked through illness and battled anxiety, but during last night’s famous restaurant wars, the lone female superstar actually floundered, serving not one, but two poorly executed pieces of fish."

Premium Hollywood on the Quickfire: "They would have a tag team cookoff, in which each chef had 10 minutes out of 40 to complete a dish, but while one chef was working the others were blindfolded. Man, that looked HARD."

Showtracker (LA Times) echoes my thoughts: "For a second there, it looked as though one of the contestants in the Final Four might be going home. Didn't Jennifer's eyes look weepy during her interviews? No one was happy with Kevin's undercooked lamb, either. Can you imagine the horror of watching Robin, Laurine, Eli and Mike I. outlast one of those two?"

It Happened Last Night on what was kind of great about the Quickfire: "They really do know their food and were able to puzzle out, improvise and sometimes even change the flavor profile/plan that was implemented. That was really something to watch."

Food and More (Atlanta Journal Constitution) on the three scariest words in a cheftestant's world: "'Padma wants salt!' Three words to strike terror in the heart of any chef."

Gawker on Michael V.: "Michael Voltaggio hasn't yet learned yelling 'Relax!' at somebody does not make them obey—and conversely, yelling 'Obey!' at someone doesn't make them relax. He continues to antagonize his older brother Bryan who is one day going to pummel Michael bloody."

Meal Ticket (Philly City Paper) on Jen's misstatement: "Sustainable seafood king Moonen is impressed with both plates but ends up giving the W to Blue, despite Jen accidentally referring to her protein as trout when she describes it. 'I called my black cod trout on national TV … awesome,' she laments. Don’t you sweat it, lady. I’ve called short ribs spare ribs and spare ribs short ribs so many times that I think the National Association for the Preservation of Rib Sanctity (NAPRS) has a hit out on me."

The Celebrity Cafe on the Red team's drama: "By the third course there was a considerable tension in the air between the two Voltaggio brothers, complete with underhanded and under-the-breath comments and more piercing stares from Mike. By Robin’s dessert course, it seemed like there were too many cooks in the kitchen. But wait, there were only three."

TV Squad on why TC is different: "The thing that sets Top Chef apart from similar shows such as Project Runway or Hell's Kitchen, is the level of professionalism on display. While both of those shows have strong contestants, on the whole, the pool seems more amateurish than those on Top Chef. This was clearly evident in this week's episode with the Quickfire Challenge."

Best Week Ever on knife choices: "Blank knives with two of them saying 'First Choice' and 'Second Choice'?? What happened to knives that say 'Rutabaga,' 'Shoehorn,' and 'Dennis Quaid?' ('When I drew ‘Dennis Quaid’ I wuz like, whoa!')"

Speakeasy (WSJ) on moms: "To no one’s surprise, Robin was picked last for teams. 'I’m the mom here,' Robin says, sounding exactly like our mom does when she’s aggravating her children. 'They’re stuck with me.'"

Express Night Out on what's good: "There's nothing like a bunch of nervous, arrogant chefs opening an eatery in three hours to perfume the air with anxious excitement. Then, throw in one of the coolest quickfires in 'Top Chef' history and a kindly, sweet facade from Toby Young and you've got yourself a quality episode."

Limecrete on corporate speak: "Padma tells the chefs that they can only go so far on their individual talents, and Rick agrees that they work with bunches of people, and thus need 'synergy'. I put that in quotes because corporate buzzwords annoy me, especially when they're unnecessary, and can be replaced by eminently respectable words like 'teamwork' or 'cooperation'."

Max the Girl on sibling rivalry: "'When we were kids, I was the instigator and Bryan was always trying to look out for everybody,' says Goofus, in a rare moment of self reflection. Ah, plus ca change, plus c'est le meme chose."

Procrastiblog on the producers: "Since Jennifer was the obvious second choice for elimination, and Kevin the third, one might be tempted to speculate the producers put a thumb on the scale in favor of the top contenders. Far be it from me to suggest such a thing. But one might be tempted."

Sunday, October 25, 2009

TC News & Information 10.25.2009

Top Chef News & Information
Brian Malarkey is opening his own restaurant in San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter. Read more about it here.

Want to date Stefan Richter? He's up for grabs, especially if you are organized, clean, and like to drink.

Hosea Rosenberg is the grand marshal for the University of Colorado's homecoming parade.

Salon has a very funny take on the dynamic between the Brothers Voltaggio.


So far, 42% percent of people who responded to our finale location poll think that the TC6 finale is being filmed in Napa. According to some rumormongering by Eater, that's looking to be a good guess. Mattin, Hector, Ron, and Mike were spotted lunching there on Friday, and I've seen photos that include Laurine and Preeti as well.

Thomas Keller is listed as a guess judge on the official Bravo press release, so it seems like another good guess that his French Laundry will feature in the finale. And how about Top Chef Masters finalist Michael Chiarello? TCM competitors have been guest judges throughout the season....

The Latest: Bravo's own Andy Cohen tweeted yesterday that he was on his way home from Napa, so I guess that makes it official. Unless his being there was just a giant coincidence. :)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Poll - Top Chef 6 Finale

The finale of season 6 will be airing in early December, so it's probably about time to start filming. Where do you think it will be held this year? Here are 10 completely random options for you to choose from.

Top Recipe, Top Chef Las Vegas Episode 9

A printable version of Michael's cod recipe is available here.

Brian Malarkey puts a healthy spin on the same dish here.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Exit Interview - Laurine Wickett

All Top Chef Interview with Laurine Wickett

Chef Laurine Wickett talks about her experience on Top Chef, her life as a chef and her catering business.

Click here for the podcast.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Return of Top Chef Masters


Gail Simmons To Serve As A Judge In Season 2

NEW YORK - October 22, 2009 - Bravo's highest-rated first season competition series, "Top Chef Masters" is back for season two. Once again the judges' table will be turned, and viewers will see what happens when world-renowned chefs compete against each other in a series of weekly challenges and revert back to basics. Only one chef will make it to the finals to compete for the title of "Top Chef Master" and a prize for the charity of their choice. The announcement was made by Frances Berwick, Executive Vice President and General Manager, Bravo Media.

Food journalist Kelly Choi returns as series' host, alongside renowned restaurant critic Gael Greene, culinary expert James Oseland and food critic Jay Rayner who are all back on the Critic's Table. "Top Chef" series judge Gail Simmons will also serve as a judge this season on "Top Chef Masters."

"In its freshman season, Top Chef Masters resonated with viewers and critics alike, as the best of the best faced each other in fiery competition," said Berwick. "This season we're adding to the pot throwing in more acclaimed chefs - let's see if they can stand the heat."

Each episode of "Top Chef Masters" holds two challenges for the chefs. The first is a quickfire challenge which tests their basic abilities. Each quickfire challenge will be judged by a blind taste test and a five-star system, similar to fine dining reviews.

The second challenge is a more involved elimination challenge designed to test the versatility and invention of the chefs as they take on unique culinary trials such as working with unusual and exotic foods or catering for demanding clients. The food will be tasted and evaluated by the judges and a wide range of tasters for whom the challenge is aimed, whether it is patrons at a five-star restaurant or a room full of hungry kids - the food has to appeal to the diner as well as the critics if the chef is to survive.

"Top Chef Masters" wrapped season one as the highest-rated first season competition series ever for Bravo, averaging 2.22 million total viewers and 1.53 million adults 18-49.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Congratulations, Chef (Michael) Voltaggio

Congratulations to Chef Michael Voltaggio, for taking home the coveted "Restaurant Wars" win (plus $10,000 that he plans to share with his team). The judges loved both his cod in parsley sauce and pressed chicken with calamari "pasta," calling them "brilliant" and "amazing."

Chef Voltaggio and his teammates earned the praise "best restaurant in six seasons" from Tom and Judge Toby Young commented that if he was reviewing the restaurant, he'd give them three stars - high praise for opening night

This post is only for positive words for Chef Michael Voltaggio. If you have anything negative to say about him or another chef, please click here.

ATC Love to Chef Wickett

This week we say goodbye to Chef Laurine Wickett, who's undercooked lamb (on which she collaborated with Kevin) and hesitant front-of-house behavior earned her criticism from the judges.

Chef Wickett hovered around the middle of the pack for most challenges this season, with food that was decent but not remarkable. Unfortunately, this episode, it was her service more than her dish that disappointed the judges. They wanted more unsolicited information from her, and said that it seemed that she was "hiding out" when things got dodgy in the dining room.

This post is only for positive words for Chef Wickett. If you have anything negative to say about her or another chef, please click here.

Reactions to Top Chef Las Vegas Episode 9

This week on Top Chef...RESTAURANT WARS!!! But first, sibling rivalry, Jen in a bikini, and a brand new Quickfire that's one of my favorite things so far this season.

Padma and sustainable-happy Chef Rick Moonen preside over a "tag team cookoff." The eight remaining chefs choose knives to find out who will have the honor of picking teams, elementary school kickball-game style. Jen and Michael V. are the lucky winners and they don't waste any time not picking Robin. Well, Michael ends up having to pick her, but not until the very end.

The teams are:

Blue: Jen, Kevin, Laurine, and Mike I.

Red: Michael V., Bryan, Eli, and Robin

With teams in place, Padma explains that this challenge is all about teamwork and the line. Each team will be responsible for creating a cohesive dish - which would be no problem if they could just work together. Instead, they will each cook for 10 minutes, one at a time. And before they start cooking, they have to wear blindfolds. And they can't talk about the dish at all - beforehand or while cooking. They have to figure it out as they go along.

Jen kicks off the Blue team, starting sablefish (which she then calls trout, to her severe chagrin), gets a sauce on, and starts some oil for eventual poaching. For the red team, Eli starts a bunch of raw ingredients, cleans some greens and says he started to cook in a very basic way.

Though there's some hand-wringing at different stages of the game, the chefs are actually pretty good at figuring out what their teammates are thinking, and improvising when they can't figure it out.

Ultimately, the Blue team takes home the win, thanks in large part to the "great stock" that Jen started at the very beginning. There's some celebration and Laurine mentions that she's excited because it's her first win. Foreshadowing.

Padma tells the team that they've won $10,000 - but if they want, they can "let it ride" on the Elimination Challenge. Of course they say yes.

And...Restaurant Wars! Bryan V. celebrates by almost smiling.

Rules are a little different this year: for one, nobody's responsible for decor. Thank God, too, because what a waste of time that was in past seasons.

Here's the thing about this episode: it's busy and it's about the food and about teamwork. It was totally entertaining, but not really all that funny. There are meetings and there's shopping and there's stress in the kitchen. Robin ditches the mom persona and uses the "f" word to controlling Michael V. Jennifer seriously screws up her trout with brown butter sauce. Laurine obviously doesn't know what "good at front of the house" means and Eli doesn't tuck in his shirt.

But when it comes down to it, this bunch of chefs - even Eli, who got the childish edit last week - they're professionals. They work hard and work together and do a decent job. So decent, in fact, that Tom tells the Red team (aka R3VOLT - yes, with a backwards "e") that they created the best restaurant ever to appear on Restaurant Wars. They'd all be happy - especially after Michael V. shares the $10,000 he got for being the big winner - except that Bryan can't deal with little brother's control freakishness.

So the Red team wins and the Blue team loses, thanks to Jennifer's failed trout and decent, but very slow cook-to-order bouillabaise, Kevin/Laurine's undercooked lamb, and Laurine's seriously terrible front of house behavior. They know what they did wrong...and they feel terrible about it. Professionals.

The editors clearly want to scare us into thinking Jen's going home (it worked in my house) but in the end, it's Laurine who gets PPYKAG'ed.

I love Restaurant Wars, and I really loved the new Quickfire, but I've got to be honest - it's not that easy to write about. Everyone's just so professional. But what did you think? Do you wish for more drama? Or is the food enough? Please leave a comment with your thoughts....

More Stir Crazy in Sin CIty

Are you enjoying the Stir Crazy in Sin City webisodes? Well, here are two more, hot off the presses - both featuring the Voltaggios.

The first follows the cheftestants as they use Gladware for something OTHER than capture a snake that got in the house.

Then, Bryan spazzes out and threatens to burn the house's last bag of cheese puffs -- the irony of these gourmet cooks going nuts over junk food.

Gail Simmons at Tim Tam Launch

Top Chef judge Gail Simmons was on hand for the re-introduction of Pepperidge Farm Tim Tam cookies, last week in New York.
The number one chocolate biscuit in Australia, Tim Tam cookies are truly irresistible! Beneath a smooth layer of heavenly chocolate fudge, between two layers of crispy biscuits, a mouthwatering layer of chocolate crème awaits. Pepperidge Farm is pleased to offer Tim Tam cookies in three decadent varieties. Chocolate Crème and Caramel are available at major supermarkets and grocery stores nationwide. And, making its debut this year, new Tim Tam Classic Dark will be offered exclusively in Target stores across the country.

To help spread the word about the return of Tim Tam cookies, Pepperidge Farm has partnered with one of the cookies’ biggest and most discerning fans, Gail Simmons, judge of Bravo’s Emmy-nominated show Top Chef. “I can’t tell you how thrilled I am that Tim Tam cookies are back in the U.S.,” said Simmons, a food critic, trained chef, and Food & Wine magazine contributor. “They are such a phenomenon in Australia, where much of my family lives, and now people here have the opportunity to experience a genuine taste of Australia in their own homes. I think people will love sharing Tim Tam cookies with their friends and families this winter…I know I will!”
The pics are cheesy, but Gail looks adorable.

TC News & Information 10.21.09

Top Chef News & Information
True Flavors Celebrity Cookoffs: See former Top Cheftestants Ryan Scott, Jamie Lauren, Casey Thompson and Tiffani Faison, plus Top Chef Masters competitor Elizabeth Falkner this weekend, October 24th in San Francisco, and Carla Hall in DC on November 12th. For more info on the events, and to buy tickets, click here.

Catch Creative Loafing's episode 8 podcast here.

The Crave Arizona Culinary Festival is this weekend, October 22-24, and will feature Season 4 winner Stephanie Izard, Season 2 finalist Sam Talbot, and TC Masters' Douglas Rodriguez. Click here for more information on Crave.

Fabio Viviani appeared on the 10 Show! on Monday. If you missed it, here's the clip:

View more news videos at:

Bryan Voltaggio on Culinary Evolution

Chef Voltaggio's Volt scored 3 stars in Tom Sietsema's 10th Annual Washington Post Dining Guide for his Table 21 multi-course kitchen-dining experience. His "textures of chocolate" dessert was also singled out in a separate "sweet endings" list. Way to go, Chef Voltaggio!

Also, as part of the Dining Guide, the WP speaks to five tastemakers in the D.C. area, one of which is Chef V.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Padma Shows Off Her Baby Bump last Thursday's Keep A Child Alive 6th Annual Black Ball in New York.

What do you think of the bangs?

Top Chef Las Vegas Episode 9 Previews

Monday, October 19, 2009

Recap Roundup: Top Chef Las Vegas Episode 8

This week on Top Chef: pigs, pinot, pissy Eli and Robin. And bloggers:

Cliffieland writes guest judge Charlie Palmer's bio: "Well, it seems that aside from being a super chef and Mr. Belvedere look-alike, Palmer has a history of having been a boss/mentor for both Chefs BrotherBryan and BrotherMichael."

Jordan Baker on one downside of Ash's leaving: "Ash leaving makes me kind of pissy. Not that I don’t think he deserved it; not that I don’t even think he was maybe a little overdue... but this means we have to listen to another fucking week of all the 'everyone hates Robin' drama."

Minx Eats on the product-whore Quickfire: "Granted, this is a more upscale challenge than those in prior seasons requiring use of items from vending machines, but still. Corporate sponsorship rules the day!"

Reality Check (Baltimore Sun) on the shots the bloggers don't miss: "Who noticed Jerkface Mike putting lotion on his tattoos in one of the first shots? Eww!"

Reality TV Magazine on Toby's, um, colorful descriptions: "Jen's dish was called 'the difference between a shaved armpit and a hairy armpit' by Toby young, which, believe it or not, was good."

Eating LA on the Quickfire winner (and not-so-winner): "Quickfire challenge winner: Eli's potato clam salad with white truffle. Doesn't excite me, but I guess it's better than Robin's sweet corn panna cotta with avocado. Has she never heard of textural contrast?"

Slashfood with a phenomenal potential storyline: "'If I was your mother, I would've raised you better,' she snapped bitterly, making us wonder if perhaps the show's producers will reveal, just in time for sweeps week, that Robin actually is Eli's birth mom, and gave him away years ago when she was diagnosed with cancer."

Grub Street with more on the Eli-Robin drama: "Eli’s trash talk wasn’t limited to Jen — he also slagged everyone’s 'amateur palates,' and tangled with Robin over some dirty dishes. He was totally like, you’re not my [bleep]ing mom, which is a good thing for Robin, because if she were his mom she’d have to pay his rent."

Entertainment Weekly on sibling rivalry: "All eyes were on Bryan and Michael V., who for the first time, bickered like the competitive, childish brothers we've been waiting to see. When Bryan edged in on Michael V.'s workspace, the M.V. was more than ready to wail on his brother and push his buttons just to intimidate Bryan. The verbal sparring was filled mostly with 'Shut the f--- up!' and 'Go f--- yourself!' All to impress their Palmer patriarch? How sweet."

Food and More (Atlanta Journal Constitution) on Laurine and the "c-word": "Laurine serves her so-called rillettes, which makes Dana Cowin utter the 'c' word. It is the grossest insult you can ever make about someone’s chopped meat creation: 'catfood.'"

Diana Takes a Bite on the losing dish: "Ash is sent home for his flavorless, clammy piece of pork that didn’t pair well with his Pinot.Or as he says so eloquently, 'I have the least good dish. Oops.'"

Seacoast Online on the Elimination Challenge: "The challenge is about the art of pairing. Chef Palmer explains pairing to them as if they don’t know what it means, so it's obviously for our benefit because, we, the audience, know nothing."

Speakeasy (WSJ) on Robin's original phrasing: "Here’s an idea: Are reality competitions still competitions if no one says they’re not there to make friends? I don’t know, I’ve never seen one that hasn’t succumbed to the phrase. (It’s worth noting that people who claim they’re not trying to make friends often lose.)"

Village Voice on the dual realizations about Eli: "As morning dawned on the McMansion this week, we learned that Eli still lives with his parents, which wasn't that much more surprising than the simultaneous discovery that he wears white Crocs, and that they're really, really filthy." (NY) with a Robin theory: "Maybe she is all speeded up on Stacker II. That would help explain why she's so freaking cut. She is built like a brick shithouse. I wouldn't want to be on the business end of her Tae Bo workout, you know what I'm saying? Check out her sick Pilates. She is like Finding Nemo. Swim! Be free!"

Left Coast Catering (Laurine's blog) on what went wrong with her rillette: "My arguably larger mistake here was attempting this lengthy technique in our limited amount of time. I skipped the salting and curing stages in the interest of brevity, and without this preparation, the meat needed more time to braise, not less. Sometimes you can, in fact, make several mistakes in the course of a disaster."

Meal Ticket (Philly City Paper) on that wine-tasting scene: "Few things appear douchier to the average person than watching a bunch of people taste wine. But y’all oenophobes should know that all the sniffing and the swirling and the holding it up to the light stuff is imperative to the process. The dumping of perfectly good vino into classy silver spittoons, however? I could take it or leave it. This is probably why the only tasting notes I ever really write are about Fruit by the Foot."

Trouble with Toast on Kevin's win (and his tat): "TEAM KEVIN GETS THE WIN, WOO HOO! In his enthusiasm, Kevin shows the judges his piggy tattoo. Awwwww. For winning, Kevin will be a featured chef at the 2010 Pigs & Pinot event in Healdsburg, California. I wanna go!"

Food Network Musings on brothers and favoritism: "We learn that Bryan worked for him for 10 years and Michael for some time as well. Charlie says he absolutely will not favor them over the others, which says to me that they have no chance of winning."

Procrastiblog on the Volt brothers' Eli-taunting: "Eli is such an arrogant tool that I really enjoyed watching Michael and Bryan get under his skin. It was simple schoolyard stuff ('That was flirting… Did you get to second base?'), but amazingly effective. The Voltaggio’s obviously know how to deconstruct a male ego."

Limecrete on Padma's headgear: "The actual challenge gets under way, and we see that Ptom and Padma have learned nothing from their fashion tragedies last week. Padma actually tries to get away with a sun hat, like she's in The Great Gatsby or something."

We Have a Winner!

The winner of our "Why I Love Top Chef" essay contest is Holly Burpo. Congratulations, Holly - you have won a copy of the Top Chef cookbook, which will be winging its way to you shortly.

Here's Holly's winning entry.

When it comes up--and it does--I always tell people I learned to cook in self defense. During my childhood my grandmother cooked for me. My grandmother never made tuna casserole--in fact, I've never tasted tuna casserole. My grandmother made pea souffle. My grandmother could roast a chicken better than those silly Foster Farm or whatever commercials could dream of. My grandmother was good. Mom wasn't bad either.

I hated it.

I hated being sent to the store for "corn starch" and not even knowing which row to start looking in. I hated when she put swiss chard on perfectly good garlic bread and ruined it for everyone. I especially hated the five kinds of squash I never new the name of but really disliked each in their own special and individual way.

Then I moved out, went to college. I moved from San Antonio, Texas to Seattle, Washington and never came back.

I was on my own when it came to food. I was a picky eater with an unusually refined palate.

In words words, I was screwed.

And yet, as I scrambled to make sense of meat and starches and vegetables I hated less than others, it started coming back to me. I knew how to pick out ripe fruit. I knew where the corn starch was. I knew what radicchio looked like, even if all I did to it was pass on by.

I found Top Chef in its second season, and actually spent most of my time trying to talk the underdog--Marcel--into being more talented and less of a jerk. And wishing he'd please, please stop rapping. I'd learned how to cook because I had to. I got hungry several times a day. I'd somehow missed that it could be creative, how it could be fun.

Here was Top Chef, in one of its most emotional seasons, showing me the way.
My parents and I don't have a great deal in common, but now when I call home I can ask about Top Chef, because Mom watches too. Back then she said Marcel reminded her of my boyfriend. I'm not sure why and I'm much too afraid to ask. And while I couldn't call Top Chef when I had the bright idea to make mushroom soup, let the pan get too hot, and then set the butter on fire--I could call Grandma. But I blame Top Chef for convincing me I wanted to spend my Friday night making soup.

It's just a TV show, but it's become more. An intersection of experience, a point of reference. Something I suddenly have in common with the people who raised me, now two whole times zones away.

So that's why I love Top Chef.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Stir Crazy in Sin City Webisode

In this episode, the cheftestants answer the question "what kind of fans do you want?" Check out the last few seconds of the video, where BrotherMike gives it up for his fans who are warm for his form....

Top Recipe, Top Chef Las Vegas Episode 8

If you want a written-out version of Kevin's pork terrine, the recipe can be found here.

Friday, October 16, 2009

All Top Chef Interview with Ash Fulk

ATC: Ash, what inspired you to become a chef?

AF: A lot. I grew up in California where my mom had a garden and we enjoyed fresh vegetables and herbs. Later I had a girlfriend who worked as a waitress and she suggested that I apply for a job at the same restaurant. It didn't work out right away, but eventually I became a chef and fell in love with the restaurant business.

ATC: Tell us about your restaurant.

AF: It's called "Trestle on Tenth." It's in New York City - sort of a rustic bistro with Swiss-influenced cuisine.

We may not have the most cutting edge techniques or molecular gastronomy but many patrons appreciate delicious honest food.

Click here to continue.

TC News & Information 10.16.09

Top Chef News & Information
LAist has an article on the culinary adventures of Stefan Richter.

Top Chef 5 champ Hosea Rosenberg is named in this list of Denver's Top Ten reality stars.

Want to go to the 2010 Food and Wine Classic in Aspen? You can if you're the Grand Prize winner of Pama Pomegranate Liqueur's recipe contest, judged by former Top Cheftestants Spike Mendelsohn, Lee Ann Wong, and Jeff McInnis. Details can be found at

DC area chefs Mike Isabella and Bryan Voltaggio will be duking it out at the Capital Food Fight 2009, November 11th. Carla Hall and former judge Ted Allen will also be on hand. For more info, click here.

Exit Interview - Ash Fulk

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Poll Results - TCLV Episode 8

For this poll, we once again asked who you thought would be eliminated on Top Chef Las Vegas. Ash was one you chose, with 40% of the vote.

Thanks for voting!

Congratulations, Chef Gillespie!

This week marks the third win for Atlanta's pig-praising chef, Chef Kevin Gillespie. In the Pig and Pinot challenge, Chef Gillespie created a pork leg pate with mayonnaise sauce that the judges described as having deep flavor and as being a perfect match to his Pinot Noir.

Chef Gillespie explained that he'd visited the vineyard where his wine was made and, having noted that the land included hazelnut trees, he incorporated hazelnuts into his dish. Plus, he really and truly loves working with pork and it showed.

This post is only for positive words for Chef Gillespie. If you have anything negative to say about him or another chef, please click here.

ATC Love to Chef Fulk

This week we said goodbye to Chef Ash Fulk, who had charm in spades, but unfortunately second-guessed himself in the Pig and Pinot challenge, delivering a chilled pork tenderloin that the judges found "clammy" and too mild to stand up to his powerful wine.

Ash had a slightly different dish in mind originally, but changed his course mid-stream. The judges loved the idea of his original dish, but gave him feedback that he summarized in the stew room, saying, "I forgot flavor!"

This post is only for positive words for Chef Fulk. If you have anything negative to say about him or another chef, please click here.

Reactions to Top Chef Las Vegas Episode 8

In this episode, which was all about the art of pairing, we learned a few things: Eli lives with his parents, Robin does pilates, the Voltaggio brothers have emotions, and Kevin's good with pig. Oh, we knew that last one already? Well, he's also got a pig tattooed on his arm. Along with some other stuff.

The guest judge this round is Charlie Palmer, who everyone gushes over as an important figure in American cuisine, and who both Volt brothers worked with - Bryan for 10 years and Michael apparently not that successfully. Palmer insists he'll be impartial, though, and he probably is.

For the Quickfire Product Placement challenge, the cheftestants have to do a slightly fancier version of the vending machine Quickfire. This year, they create a pairing with one of several Alexia snacks (which actually do look pretty good, but then I like anything chip-related).

Most of the chefs turn out a dish that's at least decent, though Robin, Ash, and a nervous Jen end up on the bottom. Palmer protege Bryan, Kevin, and Eli end up on top and Eli takes the win. Unfortunately for him, this is not a high stakes Quickfire, so he gets a big fat nothing for his effort. Except satisfaction, I guess.

The Elimination Challenge is kind of fantastic, even if it is a catering challenge. The cheftestants will be creating pig-based dishes to pair with specific Pinot Noirs, serving them at Palmer's annual Pig and Pinot charity event.

As an aside: Could there be a better charity event? I don't even care who gets the money. Pig. Pinot. Perfect.

The chefs pick knives to figure out which part of the pig they'll work with, then they visit Aureole with its kickass wine storage, to taste a bunch of Pinots and pick one to pair. I am jealous.

Cut to the McMansion kitchen, where Kevin explains that he just tries to get along with everybody, and that he's sure Robin has good intentions. He nearly leaves it at that, but the steady stream of her conversation in the background is enough to nearly even push him over the edge.

Robin thinks that nobody likes her because they don't think she belongs there. That may be the case, but I'm going to guess that nobody likes her because she narrates every single second of her day. So does my three year old, but he has an excuse. He's three.

Robin and Eli get in an adorable little fight, then Robin drops the bomb: she's not here to make friends. Really, Robin? Nobody has ever said that before.

On to the elimination. There's cooking. And worrying. The Volt brothers yell at each other over plastic wrap. Then they serve a big crowd, plus Padma in a Kentucky Derby hat.

Then we get to Judges' Table, where the top tier includes the Volt brothers, Jen and Kevin. Mr. Piggy, Kevin, takes the win, along with a chance to cook at next year's event, for his pork leg pate, which incorporated hazelnuts - which happen to grow on the property where the wine is made. Man, he's good. Good thing, too, since he's got a pig on his arm and would've been embarrassed to lose this challenge.

But there are losers, too. Nobody's surprised to see Robin, Ash, and Laurine head to the gauntlet, though I was suprised that Laurine made it through for her cat foody rillettes.

Ultimately, poor sweet under-confident Ash goes home for his Mike I.-recommended chilled pork tenderloin with a cherry and corn salad. F&W's Dana Cowin found the pork clammy and all the judges agreed that the wine was a poor match for the simple food and that Ash should really listen to his instincts and not cave to other people's suggestions.


I loved this episode, mostly because I love pig, pinot, and Robin and Eli fights. But what did you think? Please leave a comment with your thoughts....

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

TC News & Information 10.14.09

Top Chef News & Information"Product placement for advertisers was a scripted addition and huge annoyance to Zavala. 'I’m going to use my GladWare® when I put away my mis-en-place.’ Do I say that s&%^ when I’m cooking everyday? No I don’t.'" Read what Philly chefs Jennifer Carroll and Jennifer Zavala have to say about Top Chef.

Want to be Stephanie Izard's sous chef? Redeye Chicago is giving a lucky person the chance to do just that. Check out the details here.

Creative Loafing's episode 7 podcast is available here.

Padma was on Regis & Kelly the other day, sporting bangs and a baby bump. She comes on at about the 4:21 mark. There's apparently more to this segment, but unfortunately it's not on YouTube yet.

Chat Live With Top Chef Season 4's Dale Talde

Dale Talde of Top Chef will be answering questions direct from fans during a LiveCloud VIP-Talk session on October 15th

The chat event is accessible on October 15th from 6pm – 7pm (PDT), click here to join chat. Also, questions can be submitted in advance of the event.

Dale, a sous chef at Buddakan, one of New York's hottest restaurants, was born and raised in Chicago, where he helped open the renowned restaurant Jean Georges Vong. In Chicago, Dale worked with distinguished chefs like Carrie Nahabedian and Shawn Mcclain. With his Filipino background, Dale focuses on Asian flavors. "I love the balance that Asian cuisine offers the salty, sweet, bitter and sour and the textures it provides for different experiences in every bite." One of Dale's kitchen favorites is a dry aged Kobe rib eye. Dale says cooking meats is one of his favorite things to do in the kitchen and the technique that goes into properly searing and basting a rack of lamb or steak shows a lot of love. A motto that drives Dale is "expect perfection, because if you fall short you’re left with greatness."

Monday, October 12, 2009

Recap Roundup: Top Chef Las Vegas Episode 7

Cliffieland on the Quickfire winners: "As for the three best, those were DoucheyMike’s 'light and fresh' Summer’s Eve, Kevin’s 'wow, I can do Asian, too!' dish and BrotherMichael’s 'still not a pastry chef' dessert."

Jordan Baker on saying goodbye to Ashley: "She made prawns and beet sauce. In my world, with my allergies, that’s homicide on a plate. So I can’t say I’m sad that someone went home for that dish. I just. . .wish this week had been Robin. Or Mike I. Or Ash. Or Laurine. I’m FINE with any of them going."

Minx Eats on this week's guest judge: "I used to like Tyler Florence™ until I friended him on Facebook. Every post was a shill for one of his products. Hey, do that on a fan page! Post interesting things for your "'friends.' Also, from watching Tyler's Ultimate, I have decided that the man only knows two adjectives - 'fantastic' and 'amazing.'"

Reality Check (Baltimore Sun) on Padma's RIDICULOUS outfit, which would've made the Fug Girls cry: "May we interrupt with a Padma fashion moment: She has on lime-green shiny disco pants! Liz misses the leopard ensemble from a few weeks ago."

Speakeasy (WSJ) on Ash at Judges' Table: "Padma asks Ash if he was comfortable playing second fiddle to Michael. 'It’s like washing paint brushes for Picasso,' he gushes. I swear I saw little hearts in his eyes. You can only see them if you have HDTV. Tom rightly notes that this is, uh, a search for a great chef. Ash does some doublespeak, but the damage is done: Winners don’t undermine themselves so publicly."

Gawker writes a letter to Padma's unborn child, with lessons: "As you'll have noticed, last night, Gashmouth Isabella and Robin Cancer were teamed up together. Robin is annoyingly verbose and has a martyr complex. Gashmouth Isabella is arrogant though his self-regard is unwarranted... Both characters are useful object lessons. First, don't be an asshole, or if you must be, don't be so loud about it. Gashmouth is a great example of what an asshole is and why no one likes him. No one likes Robin Leventhal because she is an annoying sofa of a human but compared to Gashmouth, one can't help but root for her."

Meal Ticket (Philly City Paper) on Kevin's "praise" of Tyler Florence: "Food Network’s Tyler Florence shows up as a guest judge. 'I recognized him right when I got there,' says Kevin, demonstrating one of my favorite tactics of people who avoid overtly talking shit on someone by making benign observations ('I noticed that he had skin')."

Express Night Out on Jen's first stumble: "Finally, vomit-y Jennifer makes a seared Maine diver scallop over with pistachio and salmon roe for her trio: adventurous, nutty, American. The mighty Jennifer, momentarily thrown off her game! Perhaps the Voltaggios poisoned her dinner."

Food and More (Atlanta Journal Constitution) on Kevin's choice: "The pig is Kevin’s best friend, and he wins! And not just bragging rights, but also a choice of either immunity or a $15,000 credit at M Resort to start on a lifetime of compulsive gambling. Confident and riding high, Kevin (unlike Robin in an earlier episode) chooses the money."

TV Squad on Ashley's downfall: "Ash's effusive praise of Michael's skills was definitely uncomfortable, and I'm kind of surprised that didn't get him sent home. Luckily for him, the judges thought that Eli and Ashley's dish was the weaker of the two, so it was one of them who was going to be eliminated. One of the judges main problems though was the fact that the gnocchi was too salty, which I'm pretty sure was Eli's fault, so I was expecting him to be the one to have to pack up his knives."

Las Vegas Weekly on who we've got left, and what they've got for us: "There are a lot of words that could describe the chef’testants remaining this season on Top Chef: Las Vegas. Determined, for instance, or confident and creative. Monotone, applies to some, as does masterful or flailing."

Seacoast Online sums up the Quickfire: "They get 30 minutes. Everyone who got umami basically grabs mushrooms. They're not big on Asian food. Jennifer tells us she's sick again so I hope she doesn't sneeze on anything."

Trouble with Toast on the intro: "the opening scenes at the mansion focus on Ash never having been to culinary school and Mike V. missing his two (adorable) daughters. Ruh-roh, Shaggy. Too much exposition makes a cheftestant an eliminated boy."

Box Office Prophets with more on Tyler Florence: "I know that Bravo is trying to mix things up with their guest judges, not always having a super high-level, esteemed chef in the kitchen all the time, but Tyler Florence? C'mon. You go from Michele Bernstein to Tyler Florence? "

Left Coast Catering (Laurine's blog) on the most successful part of the evening: "The night we cooked for the Macy’s Council, I believe I caught a glimpse of the more human side of our judges. They were relaxed, enjoying one another’s company, engaging in forthright conversation and appreciating the food, even some of the less successful dishes. Of course they were also taking notes for their inevitable critique, but none of the dishes on that table were so bad as to taint the mood of that crowd. You could tell because they were actually enjoying themselves"

Procrastiblog with a message for Tyler Florence: "To Tyler Florence, on behalf of every Top Chef viewer in the world: of course you can take “the power went off” as an excuse. It’s, like, the best excuse ever."

Limecrete on the Elimination Challenge kickoff: "Mike, who has apparently never seen a single episode of a single reality show before he came here, has taken Padma at her word, and is looking forward to a little down time. The chefs come home to discover their place stocked with dishes and ingredients, so they catch the snap about who's going to prepare that home-cooked meal Padma mentioned."

Tom Colicchio in the November Issues of Family Circle


New York, NY- Tom Colicchio can be foreboding as the head judge on Bravo TV’s Top Chef, but at home he’s just a regular husband and dad who has mastered the recipe for a happy family. In the November issue of Family Circle, Tom dishes on his family, how he proposed to his wife, the truth about his kitchen at home, his favorite foods (SLIM JIM!?!?) and life with a new baby.

Tom credits his family for inspiring his passion for cooking:
“I was always with my mom and grandmother in the kitchen. And while my mom always said food is an expression of love, it was my dad who encouraged me to cook for a living.”

On cooking at home and his family’s go-to meal:
“At home Lori and I both cook, but not at the same time because our kitchen is so small. People assume that we feast on gourmet dinners every night. Wrong! Our go-to meal is actually a simple pasta with prosciutto and peas.”

As a chef you practically live at your office – er, restaurant. That’s where you met Lori, right?
“Yes I was a chef at Gramercy Tavern in New York City and she was a filmmaker working as a waitress. From that moment on, food was a big part of our relationship. I even proposed to her while we were standing in line for sandwiches at a deli.”

Items that are always in Tom’s fridge:

Eating is all in a day’s work for Colicchio, but at home he always keeps these staples on hand. “Diet coke, Fresca, bacon and yogurt. And I love a good Slim Jim!”

His Mantra:
“I love the message inside my wedding ring. It says, ‘Don’t postpone joy.’”

Top Chef fans may be surprised to learn that Tom plays guitar-and loves to rock out with his son, Dante, 16.
“He plays guitar too, so we jam to classic rock like Neil Young, Led Zeppelin and The Who. But he totally loses me when it comes to hip-hop.”

On qualities he hopes Dante inherits from him:
“Work ethic, drive and ambition. My dad was a corrections officer and wasn’t passionate about his job. That’s how I learned the importance of finding what I love and working hard to make it a profession. Dante is growing up more comfortably, and I hope he still feels compelled to succeed.”

On planning date nights with his wife, Lori:
“We never had to because we were always just together. But with a new baby, something tells me things are going to change – a lot!”

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Poll Results - TCLV Episode 7

This week we switched things up a bit and asked who you thought would be the one Padma would be asking to pack his knives and go. Robin was the choice of 28% of the voters, followed by Ash, at 23%. Only 9% thought Ashley was going to leave.

So - looks like this week's elimination was a surprise for most of us.

Poll Results - The Hottest Voltaggio

In a bit of total frivolity, All Top Chef asked you who you felt was the hottest Voltaggio brother, Michael or Bryan. Brother Bryan won by a landslide with 70% of the votes. Congratulations, Chef! I'll be hand-delivering your certificate....

Poll Results - The Best Season

All Top Chef asked you which of the six seasons of Top Chef was the *best* season. The voting was close...but Season 4 nabbed the win over Seasons 1 and 6 by a slim 1% of the votes! See all results here.

Friday, October 9, 2009

TheMinx Meets Brother Bryan

Well, not really. I did *see* him a few times the other night, when Neal P. and I celebrated our anniversary at his restaurant, Volt.

We arrived a few minutes early for our reservation and as we pulled into the attached parking lot, we spotted Chef Voltaggio unloading some items from the back of a truck. He turned and treated us to his customary phlegmatic look, which gave me a chuckle. You know, this one:

Here's a rundown of what we ate.... First, some halibut escabeche. That's escabeche, not suh-VEECH.

For apps, I had the beet tasting...

...Neal had the arugula salad.

We both had the tempura fried sweetbreads with flavors of piccata.

For my entrée, I chose the halibut, so I can attest to the fact that Bryan and Laurine's halibut dish this week was pretty great.

Neal went for lamb with merguez sausage and eggplant.

On to dessert. I had "Textures of Chocolate"...

Neal had goat's cheese cheesecake.

And if we weren't full enough, we were brought a plate of mignardises in the form of tiny ice cream sandwiches.

I had told our waitress that we were fans of Top Chef, and she kindly took me by the kitchen to gawk at Chef Bryan, but when I saw how busy he was (there's a dining room in the kitchen, and the rest of the place seemed pretty full as well - on a Wednesday night!) I decided not to barge in and introduce myself. Maybe next time.

If you want to read a more full accounting of our meal, click here. I'm already trying to decide when we should go back!