The Wrap-Up: The Week in Food

•Blogging pastry chef Michael Laiskonis of Eric Ripert’s New York flagship, Le Bernardin, fills us in that he’s been busy concocting Tastycake desserts for Ripert’s new Philadelphia outpost, 10 Arts, and also has some changes in store for DC’s WestEnd Bistro. In his catch-up post after a short blogging hiatus, Laiskonis recounts a visit to Le Bernardin by Laura Bush and daughter Jenna. At the meal’s end, the First Lady requested the recipe for his signature “Egg” dessert: “I guess, when the wife of the leader of the free world asks for the recipe of your signature dish, you fork it over (all personal politics aside).” Laiskonis later learned that his buddy Bill Yosses, pastry chef at the White House, was asked to prepare the egg, filled with milk-chocolate crème brûlée and caramel, for Easter brunch. [via SeriousEats]

•The Examiner’s Yeas and Neas column flags what may be the most expensive boxed lunch to date: a $1,000 bento box at the Mandarin Oriental’s Cafe Mozu. It’s stocked with trendy, luxe ingredients: Jamon Iberico ham, Japanese Wagyu beef (not even Kobe?!), lobster, caviar, and Champagne.

Art Smith—the Chicago chef, cookbook author, and former personal chef to Oprah Winfrey herself—is opening Art and Soul, a Mid-Atlantic-flavored restaurant in the new Affinia Liaison hotel on Capitol Hill. You may recognize Smith from his guest-judge appearance on Top Chef a few weeks ago, when the “cheftestants” buddied up with kids from Common Threads, the afterschool cooking program he founded. Smith tells the Washington Post’s Tom Sietsema that along with his new restaurant, he plans to bring the nutrition-focused program—now only in Chicago and LA—to DC.

•Chef and charcuterie guru Jamie Stachowski, formerly of K Street’s now-closed Restaurant Kolumbia, has set up shop in Arlington with the laid-back Thirsty Bernie’s. A blogger has posted a shot of the menu, and—Kolumbia fans might want to start heading across the river—it features a “Stachowski sampler” of meats as well as the beef on weck sandwich that became a cult favorite among downtown lunchers.

•After only four months of serving Caribbean- and Southern-influenced food in Brightwood, Meridian has closed. In a heartfelt note to the neighborhood, the disappointed owner concludes that “this is not the right restaurant for this location at this time . . .our target is to have a new restaurant open in Meridian’s space by September.”

Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs issue hits newsstands in a few days, but an article touting 2008’s best new wine lists is already up on the Web site and DC’s Proof gets a nod. Writer Richard Nalley has some praise for the Penn Quarter restaurant’s young sommelier, Sebastian Zutant: “For a guy with a jet-black mohawk and skateboarding sneakers . . . Zutant is on surprisingly familiar terms with some very fancy wines.”

•Sunday night marks the Oscars of the food world, the James Beard Awards at Avery Fisher Hall in Manhattan’s Lincoln Center. There’s no hours-long television broadcast, but the new Web network is set to air live coverage from the red carpet starting at 9 PM. As we reported in March, the Washington area boasts a strong showing among the nominees: José Andrés of Minibar (and Jaleo, Zaytinya, Café Atlántico, and Oyamel) for Outstanding Chef of the Year; Johnny Monis of Komi for Rising Star Chef of the Year; Cathal Armstrong of Restaurant Eve (and Majestic, PX, and Eamonn’s) in Alexandria and Eric Ziebold of CityZen for Best Chef Mid-Atlantic; Terry Theise of Terry Theise Estate Selections in Silver Spring for Outstanding Wine & Spirits Professional; and Central Michel Richard for Best New Restaurant. Last year, Michel Richard took top honors for Outstanding Chef of the Year. Will he go two for two? Stay tuned. . . .


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