Top Chef has announced its new cheftestants, and we, like everybody else who got the press release, were delighted to see that there are even more NYC cooks than ever before, from restaurants including Mai House, Buddakan, Public, 24 Prince, and Dos Caminos. You can’t go by where they work, though: Among last season's rivals, Casey was a “personal chef,” whatever that means, and made it to finale, while poor Lia was at Jean Georges and got bounced halfway through the season. Still, we’re already thinking deeply about this crew — and looking forward to making fun of them in IM conversations a few months hence.
'Top Chef' Chicago Premieres in March [Bravo press release]
Related: Adam Platt Was Right About ‘Top Chef’ All Along
Yesterday, we brought news that Chris Eddy, owner of barmarché, has plans for the Forty Deuce space; today, Eddy tells us that he’ll be joined in the venture by Omido chef-owner and founding SushiSamba chef Eliji “Taka” Takase. “We’ve been trying to do a restaurant for ten years now,” Eddy says. Can we assume that AvroKo, designers of Omido and owners of nearby Public, will be on board? Nothing is final yet, but it’s a very good assumption. Eddy plans to open in summer and says that, although certain neighbors are concerned about rising property values, he’s working with them and has been assured by the community board that, if he agrees to certain concessions, he’ll have a liquor license by February. Wherever Ivan Kane is these days, he must be sick with envy.
Related:Chris Eddy of Barmarché and industry (food) Goes After Forty Deuce Space
AvroKO, the firm that designed newly opened Omido, among others, is in the process of locking down a new restaurant space near the Bond Street location it abandoned after community protest, and partner Adam Farmerie tells us it could be ready to open in as little as four months. In the meantime, you’ll be able to explore the world of AvroKO in print when the firm publishes its first book, Best Ugly, on February 19. The 265-page tome profiles six restaurants, starting with raw-space snapshots and moving on to floor plans, process sketches, and sexy interior shots. Readers will also get an eye into what inspired the designs (the wall at Stanton Social, for instance, is modeled after deconstructed suit jackets). Our advice: Keep this beauty off your coffee table, or you’ll be tempted to go splurge at Public every time you pick it up.
Starchefs plugs big-name chefs as often as Heinz bottles ketchup, so you'll find all the top toques in their new guidebook, Chefs to Know. Aimed at aspiring kitchen lackeys, the book is fun for civilian perusal as well, if only for the “offbeat restaurants,” favorite kitchen tools, and, best of all, their go-to job interview question.
Astoria: The Sparrow’s pain perdu dessert is “basically a grilled chocolate croissant with homemade butterscotch syrup on it, with a dollop of real whipped cream on the side.” [Joey in Astoria]
Harlem: Doug E.’s Fresh Chicken and Waffles still isn’t ready to open. [Uptown Flavor]
Gramercy: Blue Smoke takes top honors in this roundup of the city’s best sweet-potato fries. [Gridskipper]
Greenwich Village: Smith’s from this week’s Openings starts serving tonight. [Eater]
Midwood: Yes, Dom De Marco’s pies at Di Fara’s are impressive, but what’s really cause for amazement is “his asbestos hands. That man can pull a square pie out of the oven, which must be about 800 degrees, with his bare hands.” [Eat for Victory/VV]
Nolita: Public’s butternut-squash soup with spiced marshmallows, crispy chickpeas, and pumpkin-seed oil is just one example in this list of fall dishes showing up all over town. [Restaurant Girl]
Prospect-Lefferts-Gardens: Meytex Lounge is now calling itself Meytex Cafe, but their tasty fried chicken hasn’t changed. [Across the Park]
We’re hearing that at last night’s full CB2 meeting, the board unanimously accepted the business committee’s earlier vote to recommend denying Ivan Kane’s application for a liquor license at 19 Kenmare. Kane, who was not present, was presumably in Vegas easing his nerves in front of a pair of pasties. It remains to be seen whether Kane will continue pursuing the space, where he has started and stopped construction.
AvroKO, the architectural and restaurant team behind Public, is planning to open a new eatery at 26-28 Bond Street, not far from Ian Schrager’s forthcoming condos at 40 and 48 Bond. Unlike Forty Deuce, they received the go-ahead (albeit in a split decision, after much debate) from CB2’s business committee last night. AvroKO’s Adam Farmerie filled us in on his plan for the 100-seat restaurant, under the working name Superior.
Astoria: Anthony Bourdain featured Ali’s Kebab Cafe on No Reservations, and here’s the video of him downing offal. [Joey in Astoria]
Boerum Hill: Workers are renovating the old Independence Bank for Trader Joe’s. The space may even retain its character! [Lost City]
East Village: AvroKO and Public boys Brad and Adam Farmerie hope to score a liquor license for their new place, Superior. B Flat applied for a license at the same Bond Street space a few months back and was denied. [Eater] E.U. will accept euros as payment from August 24 through Labor Day. You can eat 34 cents more on the dollar! [Grub Street]
Financial District: Stonehouse California Olive Oil has moved to the South Street Seaport and refills bottles at $2 off the regular price. [NYT]
Hell’s Kitchen: No free Cuban for you today; unfinished construction indicates the new Sophie’s on 40th between Seventh and Eighth is in no way ready for a grand opening. [Midtown Lunch]
Gordon Ramsay lays into Marco Pierre White, Frank Bruni, and Big Macs in this wide-ranging interview, which ends with this complaint: “I’m being judged on my persona as opposed to my food, and you know what? Fuck it.” [The Independent]
Morgan Stanley and other firms won’t let their executives entertain clients or expense lunch at the Hawaiian Tropic Zone because it’s too much like a strip club. “We are a totally misunderstood restaurant,” claims the owner. [NYP]
Less than 10 percent of food imported to the U.S. is even examined by the FDA, which is “woefully understaffed and underfinanced” by the Bush administration. [NYT]
When it comes to designing bathrooms, the guys at AvroKo are the bomb. We still have the bars of soap we pocketed as souvenirs of our visit to Public. So what about the design firm’s latest spot? As you’ll recall, European Union had to wait a while for its wine and beer license, presumably because residents of 4th Street were afraid that drunken patrons would end up peeing on their stoops. Poppycock! Who would do such a thing with facilities like these in house?
In this week’s issue, as befits spring, nature is bursting out of our food coverage. Snails and sea urchins take supporting roles in Adam Platt’s review of the highly rarefied Anthos; Gael Greene flutters into a restaurant called Tree; Rob and Robin talk tomatoes, spring almonds, and even more snails; and, in the spirit of growth, our food editors lay out two Short Lists of places where you can introduce young, growing gourmands to their future lifetime pursuit. Plus, four new restaurant bloom in the April sunshine, all in New York this week.
Shocking health news of the day: Chinese food, at least the kind we eat in New York, is outrageously salty and fatty. [NYP]
Meanwhile, Chinese buns are only getting more popular in the city’s better restaurants. [NYDN]
Bret Thorn, Nation’s Restaurant News’ restaurant blogger and a longtime observer of the scene, gives his Beard Award picks. [Foodservice Blog/Nation's Restaurant News]
It’s not every restroom that wins a James Beard Award, but design firm AvroKO clinched one when they remodeled a former warehouse in the style of a fifties municipal building, using mechanized pullies, a card catalog, and post office boxes–cum–bottle holders. The result was Public. We thought the restaurant’s new lounge, the Monday Room, was a good enough excuse to drop in, No. 2 pencils sharpened, and ponder those award-winning loos.
• 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]
Move over, Bouley! Step aside, Jojo! You're so over. There's a new generation of "emerging tastemakers," at least according to Food Arts magazine and their friends at Sterling Meats. Sunday night, meat purveyor and magazine jointly fêted ten young chefs who, they predict, "will be influencing what, where and how we dine out on a national level." The chefs were presented with framed, diploma-like certificates and envy-inducing Masamoto cobalt-steel knifes.