• On Wednesday, El Pollo Rico co-owner Consuelo Solano and her brother, Juan Faustino Solano, the Wheaton polleria’s former manager, pleaded guilty to charges of money laundering. Juan Solano also pleaded guilty to hiring illegal immigrants and helping them find places to live around Maryland. The Solanos agreed to forfeit $7.2 million in assets and will be sentenced in September. Consuelo, 69, faces a maximum of 20 years in prison, and Juan, 57, faces a maximum of 30 years. Another brother and co-owner, Francisco Solano, and his wife, Ines Hoyos-Solano, face more charges and are scheduled for a trial in August. The Arlington outpost of El Pollo Rico is still up and running, while the Wheaton branch, destroyed by a fire earlier this year, is expected to reopen in the fall.
•Serious Eats takes on a debate topic potentially hotter than skyrocketing fuel costs: If Barack Obama and John McCain were food, what food would they be?
The conversation starter’s take? McCain = salt, Obama = pepper. Fair enough. So far, commenters are likening Obama to cilantro; “an arugula salad with heirloom tomatoes (locally grown and organic, naturally), fresh figs, goat cheese and lemon-pepper dressing; an organic, multigrain baguette; “marshmallow fluff hiding under Cool Whip”; and “Spanish Avant Garde: innovative, creative, but doubtful on longevity, not very practical for everyday use.” McCain is having a somewhat tougher go of it, with comparisons to turmeric; beef jerky; Wonder Bread; pot roast; “a meatloaf sandwich—classic, conventional, yet comforting in a crusty way. but also something you’d get tired of if you had it every day”; and “one of those wrinkly old hot dogs rotating around itself for years and years, going nowhere.” What say you, Washingtonians? Is Obama really a locally foraged ramp and McCain just a dusty old crouton? Leave your foodie comparisons in the comments.
• In the “It’s never too early . . .” category, Art Smith, the chef recently tapped to oversee the restaurant in the new Affinia Liaison Hotel on Capitol Hill, is being floated as a possible candidate for the job of White House chef if Obama wins the election. Smith, best known as Oprah Winfrey’s former personal chef, got his start at the Greenbrier in West Virginia and lives on the south side of Chicago, just like Obama. According to Gael Greene, the Chicago food world buzz is that “Smith’s confidantes are sure he would agree to handle ceremonial events but not daily feeding.”
• Before his first burger joint, Good Stuff Eatery, has even opened on Capitol Hill, brand-obsessed Top Chef player “Spike” Mendelsohn reveals that he’s already close to nailing down another space on 18th Street in Adams Morgan and wants to open lots more Good Stuffs around the city, plus an Asian spot and a Greek restaurant.
• There’s lots of turnover in the kitchen at Georgetown’s 1789. Executive chef Nathan Beauchamp, who recently decamped for Seattle, has been replaced by Daniel Giusti, whose last job was at the lavish Guy Savoy in Vegas. (How lavish? The least expensive appetizer is $38.) Before that, he worked under Beauchamp as sous chef at 1789. The Clyde’s Group-owned restaurant has also hired a new pastry chef, Travis Olson, who got his training working the Clyde’s circuit in Georgetown, Gallery Place, and Willow Creek Farm.