The Wrap-Up: The Week in Food

Every Friday, we fill you in on what’s been happening in the local restaurant world.

Juan Solano, former manager of Wheaton’s El Pollo Rico, was found guilty of hiring and housing illegal immigrants and conspiracy to commit money-laundering. It’s the latest in a string of setbacks for the popular Peruvian-style chicken joint: In 2006, the restaurant was temporarily closed when federal agents arrested Solano and three other family members, and last February, a two-alarm fire severely damaged the place. Solano will spend 15 months behind bars and has been ordered to pay the government $7.2 million. 

• Just after 11 PM last Sunday, Meskerem Ethiopian Restaurant in Adams Morgan turned into a crime scene. In the heat of an argument, Tessaye Yemane, 50, of Potomac Falls shot a 47 year-old male and then turned the gun on himself. He was pronounced dead almost immediately, while the victim, from Alexandria, is in stable condition.
• We know that a contestant on Bravo’s Top Chef is a local, and we might also see a familiar face on The Next Food Network Star, a competitive show whose winner becomes a permanent fixture on the foodie channel. For its fifth season, the show’s producers are holding auditions at the International Culinary School at the Art Institute of Washington from 10 to 3 today.

• Even Chile is feeling a blast of cold air from Alaska. In San Francisco, sales of Palin Syrah, an organic red from the South American country, have dropped dramatically. At Yield Wine Bar, the vino went from being a best-seller to a bad joke’s punch line. For example, umm. . . we’ll get some examples and get right back to ya!

Sarah Palin must’ve heard about John Kerry’s foodie faux-pas during the 2004 presidential campaign when he ordered a Philly Cheesesteak with (Cringe!) Swiss cheese. So when she visited Tony Luke’s while rallying voters in the city of brotherly love, she correctly asked for Cheez Whiz and onions. Wonder what she gets on her mooseburger.

• Republican candidate John McCain almost missed the presidential debate to . . . eat at Cafe Mozu? He supposedly rushed to DC for the bail-out emergency, but he was spotted wining and dining with wife Cindy and Senator Joe Lieberman and his wife, Hadassah, at the pan-Asian restaurant in the Mandarin Oriental hotel while his fellow lawmakers were trying to hash out a bill. 

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