Alain Ducasse speaks out on his restaurants, his rivalry with Joël Robuchon, and the challenge of running a global empire. But his most pointed remarks are about molecular gastronomy: “I prefer to be able to identify what I’m eating.” [Bloomberg]
BLT Market, Laurent Tourondel’s entry into the Haute Barnyard sweepstakes, has been pushed back to August. [RG]
“Hipster chef” Sam Mason’s new Internet TV show gets love in the Daily News, which swooningly describes him as “witty, goateed and extremely good-looking.” But you already knew that. [NYDN]
Related: The Launch
The Food & Wine Best New Chef parties were pretty good — especially the after-party at the Spotted Pig. We wonder who that unnamed chef doing shots all night could possibly be. Are his initials M.B.? [Mouthing Off/Food & Wine]
Joe Jr.’s coffee shop is becoming a cult favorite among well-heeled Manhattanites – one even rented it out for a party and put up a disco ball. [Mouthing Off/Food & Wine]
Top Chef runner-up Sam Talbot to open an already trendy eatery on the Lower East Side, but his liquor-license papers seem not to be in order yet. [Eater]
We’ve heard that mixed in with the usual assortment of line cooks, caterers, and wannabes on Top Chef’s next season will be a bona fide NYC cook: Joe Paulino, top banana at Café des Artistes. A restaurant manager claimed to be “in shock” when we asked him to confirm that Paulino will be a contestant — Bravo no doubt swears everyone to secrecy — but he admitted that executive sous-chef Kelvin Fernandez is running the kitchen while Paulino is on “vacation”; meanwhile, a lower-level employee told us he knew all about Paulino's being on Top Chef. (The Bravo publicist we spoke to asked if she could call us back later.) Looks like we’ve already got a favorite.
While Ilan Hall wanders around airports wearing street couture (or did you not read about that?), Josie Malave, voted off Top Chef early in the game, has ditched her Marlow & Sons sous-chef job to become executive chef at Island Café Bar and Lounge. The two-floor, 220-seater, set to open in March, will serve locally farmed, Mediterranean-themed tapas. We believe Malave when she tells us that she’s “actually happy” to have escaped Top Chef when she did. After all, some “seed money” winnings can (apparently) mess with a young cook’s head.
Island Café Bar and Lounge, 35-15 36th St., Long Island City; no phone yet.
The phrase “molecular gastronomy” has been thrown around a lot recently, most often in reference to high-tech, high-concept cookery practiced by pointy-haired runner-up Marcel Vigneron on Top Chef. Chow’s currently showing a slideshow that breaks down the art as practiced by one of its greatest masters, Grant Achatz of Chicago restaurant Alinea.
Well, hey, who'd have thunk it? Turns out Ilan won Top Chef. (Of course he did. No surprise ending has been this preordained since John Faso thought he stood a chance against Spitzer.) But, still, even though the result wasn't in doubt, the great existential question of reality television demands attention: What did it mean? Thankfully, Grub Street's Josh Ozersky joined New York's favorite couch potato, Adam Sternbergh, to answer just that question. Read their colloquy on Grub Street.
Ilan Won, Yes, But What Does It All Mean? [Grub Street]
Bruni ponders bathrooms, giving a shout-out to Grub Street's Restroom Report; apparently the Sultan had a pretty nasty encounter with the ones at Gordon Ramsay. [NYT]
Hamptons officials loosen up and consider lifting the music ban in restaurants — if there's very tight regulation of it. [NYP]
E! wrap-up on the Top Chef finale, including a plate-by-plate account of the competition’s Last Supper, which is more interesting, to us anyway, than whether Ilan got his money and new oven. [E!]
Related: Ilan Won, Yes, But What Does It All Mean?
At this point, we have no idea whether Ilan Hall will take the Top Chef title tonight — after a profile of him as winner leaked on Food & Wine’s Website, the magazine revealed that they also profiled Marcel as champ. But there’s one thing we do know, and it’s exclusive: Ilan’s “underground favorite” restaurant. In an interview a few weeks back, Hall recommended Chez Le Chef, speaking highly of Chef Frédéric Piepenburg, himself a minor celebrity. “It’s really tasty, old-world Austrian and French food,” said Hall. “You can order breakfast in bed, and he’ll deliver the whole meal in a basket, picnic-style. Just give him 24 hours in advance. He bakes all his breads, he makes all his desserts. He’s this crazy old baker that has this gigantic moustache that sort of connects to his hair. I think the restaurant is also his apartment. There’s no one like him.” — Jada Yuan
Yesterday’s Ilan Hall winner profile? Just one of two we had ready, says Food & Wine. Read Marcel's. [Food & Wine]
Related: 'Top Chef' Winner Revealed — For Real! [Grub Street]
Bruni weighs in on Top Chef, giving the cooking elements of the show a surprising amount of respect. [NYT]
Sara Dickerman looks at the new wave of cooking shows and finds them all totally ridiculous — but entertaining. [Slate]
Want to know if all those rumors about the Top Chef winner were right? Well, that's easy to do: Some poor schmuck at Food & Wine magazine made the "pack your knives and go"–level error of posting an interview with the winner to the mag's Website early. It was soon removed, but not before some readers mastered the copy-and-paste functions. Some non-spoiled tidbits? The winner found judge Padma "mesmerizingly beautiful," he likes his chicken skin extra-crispy, and he has what is often referred to as "Tin-Tin-ish" hair. Want to know more? Go ahead and click — just don't say we didn't warn you.
‘Top Chef’ Winner Revealed For Real! [Grub Street]
Breaking: Top Chef Finale Spoiled AGAIN [Eater LA]
Around the time he helmed the kitchen at Williamsburgh Café, before becoming an executive chef at Punch and then a contestant on Top Chef, Forbes named Sam Talbot one of the city’s up-and-coming chefs and Zink declared him one of its sexiest: “He is like a girl when it comes to shopping and grooming himself,” his Bravo bio reads. Unfortunately this didn’t cut it with the judges, and Sam was kicked to the curb on this week’s penultimate episode. Admirers will be happy to hear, however, that he’s still zipping around on his Vespa and consulting with the owners of Fat Baby on their two new Lower East Side restaurants. We asked him what he ate this week and learned that he likes his food cheap but solid aside from his monthly splurge at Nobu.
Immediately following the penultimate episode of Top Chef, we instant-messaged with Jimmy Bradley, the chef and restaurateur behind the Red Cat, the Mermaid Inn, and the Harrison, and the co-author of The Red Cat Cookbook. Last year's winner, Harold Dieterle, was a sous-chef at the Harrison, so we thought Jimmy might have an interesting angle on the battle between Ilan, Sam, Elia, and the much-maligned Marcel.
Update: Snack reports that Ilan Hall has quit his line cook post at Casa Mono. Let the speculation as to whether this is because he won the show or lost it begin!
The Top Chef fans have spoken – or, rather, they’ve been bitching on the Internet. As America waits to find out whether Sam, Ilan, Elia, or Marcel gets the boot in tonight’s penultimate episode, it’s clear that the crowd’s heart is with Marcel, the Joël Robuchon cook the rest of the cast has been bullying all season. “I’m full of impotent rage at the idea that Ilan, Sam or Elia will win either of the competitions (fan favorite or Top Chef),” writes baconeggs on Television Without Pity.
Conflict of interest alert! The Post's state editor, Fredric U. Dicker, has been getting paid to make speeches by the New York Bankers Association. Citigroup's head of wealth management, Todd Thomson, left the firm yesterday, perhaps because he flew his friends around too often on the corporate jet. The Bachelor's Lorenzo Borghese is dating the show's runner-up, but he also hit on Tinsley Mortimer's sister Dabney. Jared Leto got angry and Sienna Miller partied with Diddy and Josh Hartnett at Sundance. Also, Jared Leto was not pleased to hear that fellow Scarlett Johansson pal Justin Timberlake was to perform at a party he was at. Jay McInerney and Anne Hearst celebrated their marriage in Palm Beach with a gaggle of society folk.
Steakhouse king and inventor of T.G.I. Friday's Alan Stillman shares his secrets of success with the Houston Chronicle: “95 percent luck and 5 percent skill.” [Houston Chronicle]
Top Chef's hapless Marcel bashed with a bottle in Las Vegas. “I don't believe violence solves anything,” he says. No doubt. [NYP]
James Bond is out, and Fredo Corleone is in as Death & Co. and Fireside give the martini the heave-ho and the daiquri and other old-time cocktails a revival. [Bloomberg]