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Scott Conant Soon to Be Very Busy; the New Shake Shack

Scott Conant has lots to keep him busy until his next major restaurant project, including a book, a Home Shopping Network deal, and a pilot for a cooking show. [The Strong Buzz] Earlier: Scott Conant Takes Leave of Alto, L’Impero [Grub Street] A customer sues Zen Palate for serving her jagged little pieces of metal along with her meal. [NYP] The lines at Grom have grown even beyond Shake Shack proportions, stretching a whole city block. [Serious Eats] Related: Grom’s Gelato Conquers New York for Italy [Grub Street]

Is There a Warrant Out on Jason Neroni?

The owner of Porchetta claims that not only was Jason Neroni fired but that the termination was for misappropriation of funds — and there’s a warrant out for his arrest. (If so, the Desperate Chef is hiding in plain sight, as we just saw him last night at the TONY awards.) [Eater] Nearly everyone got an award at last night's Time Out New York food awards, including Per Se for Best Splurge and A Voce for New Restaurant of the Year. But the Russian Tea Room for Best Reopening? Those manipulated blurbs must be working. [TONY] Talk about gross dereliction: The Department of Health, it turns out, ignored complaints about that KFC–Taco Bell for two months before sending an inspector — who did such a bad job that she would have been fired had she not just quit. [NYP]

Customers Rush to Pizzeria’s Defense

The Health Department can’t win for losing: Having failed to close the vermin-infested KFC–Taco Bell, they’re now taking heat for temporarily shutting down coal-oven institution John’s Pizzeria and neighboring Risotteria. Both restaurants protested their closure in the most emphatic terms, and their customers, far from being spooked, jumped right onboard. In a letter put up alongside the closure notice, John’s tells passersby that the city is “trying to save face”: “After SEVENTY years in business, they have decided we need a sink CLOSER TO the pizza-making area,” the note explains. Loyal customers have contributed their own sentiments: “First they came for the smokers,” wrote one libertarian, “then the pizza lovers.” Meanwhile, a punning Risotteria fan has declared that the inspectors are “full of beans.” Your move, Health Department.

You’ve Got Vermin!

As you have almost certainly read, the Department of Health has suspended the inspector who passed the KFC–Taco Bell the day before it was exposed on television as being staffed and patronized exclusively by rats. (Or something along those lines. We were half-watching.) So does that mean, we wonder, that when the department actually flags a restaurant, the place must be overrun by vermin gangs snitching on each other? Either way, we thought it worth taking a look at the name restaurants that have been recently cited.

KFC–Taco Bell Inspector Suspended; Whole Foods Ain’t What It Used to Be

City suspends the rookie health inspector that passed KFC–Taco Bell, promises to teach its inspectors how to recognize rodent infestation. [NYP] Whole Foods has gotten bigger but not better, losing focus on food quality and its moral mission. [NYT] Here’s a pretty detailed retelling of the Chodorow saga, sympathetic to the restaurateur, but also giving the critics their say. Drew Nieporent speaks on behalf of the hapless restaurant owners. [NYS] Related: We Ask Jeffrey Chodorow If He’s Been Feeling Well Lately The Gobbler Responds to Mr. Chodorow’s Broadside [Grub Street]

Ilan Hall Gets His Bling On; Chodorow Seeks His White Whale

Top Chef winner Ilan Hall is seen walking in the airport with paired Louis Vuitton bag and belt, white Nikes with pink laces, and a $12,000 Patek Philippe diamond watch. [Snack] Jeffrey Chodorow offers an Ahab-like reward for the first employee who spots Frank Bruni, promising him a Caribbean vacation. [NYP] Related: We Ask Jeffrey Chodorow If He’s Been Feeling Well Lately The Gobbler Responds to Mr. Chodorow’s Broadside [Grub Street] The social scene at Morandi is predictably exclusive: “When Keith McNally opens a restaurant, the famous will come. The fabulous will follow. The walk-ins will wait.” [Bloomberg] Related: Keith McNally on Why Morandi Will Be His Last Restaurant Ever

A Haute Barnyard Ethics Crisis; KFC Rats Hit the Big Time

Elaine Kaufman, the beloved proprietress of actor hangout Elaine’s, has seen a lot of Oscar parties and talks about them in this Q&A. [NYDN] An Haute Barnyard ethics crisis: Blue Hill’s Dan Barber on the day he added almond oil to his carrots. [NYT] Related: The Haute Barnyard Hall of Fame [Grub Street] The rats running around that KFC-Taco Bell have become a tourist attraction. [NYT] Related: Oh, Rats [Daily Intel]

Paula Deen Encounters ‘Proud’ Naked Man; Rats, Sysco Takes Over

Paula Deen is confronted with a naked man in a hotel and kindly gives him her newspaper to cover up with. Not the Food Network star we would have expected this story to be about. [NYP] Rats, big ones, have taken up residence at the KFC-Taco Bell on West 4th Street and Sixth Avenue, and WNBC has the video to prove it. [WNBC] A lot of New Yorkers are cooking up a storm for their Oscar parties. Personally, we think they would do better to heed Rob and Robin’s advice, and just order out. [NYDN] Related: Oscar Night Delivery: East Side Edition Oscar Night Delivery, Part II: West Side [NYM]

Trans-Fat Haters Winning Hearts and Minds

In the fight against trans fats, bad publicity might just do for New York what a protracted legal battle could not. The city's move to ban the deadly oils, which was rolling forward like a hungry man heading toward a bodega for chiccarones, seems to have been stopped in its tracks, or at least slowed, according this Crain's story referenced in yesterday's Morning Line. Part of the reason might be the prospect of a long and costly war with Ronald's army, which we outlined earlier. But even without being regulated, companies are tripping over each other to abandon the good stuff. KFC took the hint weeks ago. Taco Bell just saw the light, and earlier this week, the Girl Scouts got on board the zero-trans-fats train. At this rate, they might not have to pass the law at all. Except for McDonald's, of course.

Soup Nazi Ladles Out Ego; DiSpirito Waits Tables; ‘Top Chef’ Swimsuit Edition

• Public hearing reveals support for trans-fat ban and printing of calories on fast-food menus. [NYT] • And KFC makes it official: minimal trans fats by April — coincidence? [NYS] • Soup Nazi ponders a self-glorifying museum at the site of his original store. [NYO] • Alerting us to video restaurant reviews, Andrea Strong somehow fails to nod to America's Amusingest Food Videos. [NYP] • Public opens a wine bar; another izakaya, this one with buttons at the table to summon waiters; gourmet pizza on Bedford Avenue. [Strong Buzz] • Rocco DiSpirito waits tables with Gilbert Gottfried. (A benefit, not our dream reality show.) [NYP] • Batali goes bi-coastal: Pizzeria Mozza finally open. [Chowhound] • Absolut, Bacardi, and other reformed booze bizzies fork over $2.3 mil to end Spitzer probe. [NYS] • "Top Chef" Marisa busts out the bikini. [Chow]

Lick Your Lips for Headcheese and Foie Gras Cupcakes

KFC may lose trans fats, giving health nuts a reason to rejoice. But then there are new cupcakes made with duck fat … • Boulud brings headcheese to Lincoln Center. [Snack] • Sam Mason brings foie gras cupcakes to Soho. [Snack] • The West End turns into a Havana Central; Kerouac turns over in his grave. [Eater] • Bruni on Michelin. [NYT] • Another Luger chef defects. [TONY] • Colonel's secret recipe to lose trans fats? [NYS]