Sartorial ogling aside, the food was the big draw at the charity event, co-chaired by Art and Soul owner Art Smith and his executive chef, Wes Morton. Big names such as Mike Isabella (Graffiato), Scott Drewno (the Source), Erik Bruner-Yang (Toki Underground), Todd Gray (Equinox), and Rock Harper of DC Central Kitchen each created bites to raise money for causes like the Cambodian Children's Fund and the Prevent Cancer Foundation. Smith and Morton gifted their donations to Smith’s organization Common Threads, which teaches underprivileged children about health and nutrition.
Relaxed as it was, the ball did have its glitzy moments: Redheaded Modern Family star Jesse Tyler Ferguson (staff wore bow ties from the actor’s pro-gay-marriage organization) showed up, as did Smith’s friend Gayle King and Illinois governor Pat Quinn.
Local restaurateur Geoff Tracy, who helms Lia's and the three Chef Geoff's locations, delivered a talk at 2012's TEDxMidAtlantic conference about getting into the mindset of an entrepreneur. The talk, viewable as a roughly nine-and-a-half-minute video, includes, among other anecdotes, the story of how he walked into his first restaurant to find the freezers filled with months-old spoiled food, which he cleaned out himself because he couldn't find a company to take on the odoriferous project.
For more on Tracy, check out Todd Kliman's story "Everywhere at Once: Geoff Tracy's Data-Driven Empire," about the chef created a complex system to ensure consistency and seamlessness of experience across his restaurant mini empire.
Nearly 60 chefs and restaurant owners from the District, Maryland, and Virginia have signed on to a letter that calls for an end to seafood fraud and the implementation of improved traceability systems in the US market. The petition, led by National Geographic fellow Barton Seaver, is part of an ongoing campaign by Oceana to end the mislabeling, misrepresentation, and illegal exchange of seafood products.
While certain kinds of fish fraud happen knowingly on the restaurant level—when a cook swaps out local crabmeat for the cheaper Asian product to save money on those “Maryland crabcakes,” say—but in many cases, it’s the chefs themselves who are being misled. Whether it’s the fisherman, the distributor, or the packaging plant doing the mislabeling, plenty of toques—and, as a result, customers—are duped into thinking they’re purchasing one kind of seafood when it’s actually a cheaper and lesser product.
It’s all about family in episode three of Life After Top Chef. Fabio gets a visit from his mom; Richard celebrates his wife’s birthday—attempting to win her over with a backpack and a visit to the shooting range; Jen heads to the track with her dad; and Spike travels to Montreal with his kind-of girlfriend Julia and the rest of the fam for a wedding and a little steak-frites research. Oh, but there’s so much more. Let’s get to it.
“At every turn, I have to make sure I’m still qualified to be her husband.”
Yikes, Richie. This show is preoccupied with Fabio’s dangerous stress levels, but the code red situation is really in the house of Blais. It’s Jazmin’s birthday, and Richie has bought her some kind of purse/backpack thing in honor of the occasion. Does she like it? Does she not? Blais explains how astute he’s become at examining the nonverbal queues. After nail-biting through the gift offering, we head out with the Blaises to shoot some (gulp) guns, and although artillery isn’t his thing, Richie must prove his manhood by firing away. Meanwhile, the sight of his wife packing heat causes our hero even more consternation, since “every time she picks up a butter knife in our house she tells me she’s worried she’s going to stab me.” Frankly, we’re a little worried, too. Hope she likes that backpack.
Civil Lounge, a new Friendship Heights cigar bar and retail space from the owners of W. Curtis Draper Tobacconist, should be open by the first of the year, says co-owner John Anderson.
Along with cigars, the 105-seat lounge will offer beer, wine, and a large selection of spirits. Also in the plans, says Anderson, is a menu of small plates created in the kitchen at neighboring Range, Bryan Voltaggio’s forthcoming, 14,000-square-foot restaurant in the Chevy Chase Pavilion. Voltaggio confirmed via a rep this morning that once his restaurant “is open and into its first few months, Civil will be opening its dining options and Range will be included in providing small plates for the menu.”
Here’s something Fabio Viviani says in the premiere of Life After Top Chef: “This is a very interesting assorted group. Richard: family-oriented, freaks out all the time. Spike is like a 14-year-old with a credit card. Jen: super chef—very, very intense. This could be really, really good or really, really bad.” That pretty much sums up the show itself. Having secured four of the most intriguing cheftestants ever to pack their knives and go, Bravo has set up the spinoff for success—these are people you can watch.
The challenge is—based on the first episode, anyway—that not a lot happens. Whereas Top Chef’s tight format creates an ironclad, highly formulaic story arc, this is more like a Real Housewives setup, with the plot artificially built around events that bring the cast together. The producers will have to work hard to gin up the drama, and its stars will have to work hard to keep us involved. That said, they’re pretty fun to watch—and quote. Below, our favorite verbal outtakes from episode one.
It looks like chef R.J. Cooper can add “web series star” to his résumé. Starting October 4, the James Beard Award winner, Rogue 24 toque, secretive restaurant opener, and co-creator of thousand-dollar dinners will appear in Chefs of Anarchy, a six-episode series on MadeMan.com from the creators of Iron Chef.
Professional cooks are often described as performing a kind of kitchen dance. Even cynical Anthony Bourdain, in his book Kitchen Confidential, marveled that “line cooking done well is a beautiful thing to watch. It’s a high-speed collaboration resembling, at its best, ballet or modern dance. A properly organized, fully loaded line cook, one who works clean, and has ‘moves’—meaning economy of movement, nice technique, and, most important, speed—can perform his duties with Nijinsky-like grace.” In a tight kitchen full of chefs wielding sharp and hot objects, you’re naturally aware of your body and movements—or become so very quickly.
French bistro chefs, get your résumés ready. After months of rumors and false starts surrounding a 14th Street French eatery from restaurateur Stephen Starr, the tight-lipped Starr Restaurants crew is finally opening up about the project. A Prince of Petworth reader who attended the Board of Zoning Adjustment meeting for the upcoming Parc Deux—a spinoff of Parc Brasserie in Philadelphia—notes that the architect and a representative revealed that the 280-seat space is on track for a January debut.
First things first: They’ll need a chef to helm the kitchen. We spotted the following ad on LinkedIn for an executive chef with five years of industry experience and a history with Gallic cuisine. If that sounds like you, there’s a shot of joining the 28-restaurant-deep group.
Another week, another opportunity to learn what Mike Isabella has been up to. This morning, Eater DC led us to this YouTube video—posted by the United States Consulate of Istanbul on September 10—in which our intrepid hero chats it up with food bloggers, chefs, and other culinary types in Turkey.