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Top Chef

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If Wylie Dufresne Is So Original, Why Didn’t He Write a Book?

Note: Readers with only a limited appetite for endless Talmudic hairsplitting over chef etiquette might want to quickly scan this exchange between us and the Gurgling Cod, a blogger even more fascinated by the Marcel Egg Scandal than we are. Grub Street,
While Marcel Vigneron certainly rips off Wylie Dufresne, the charge of plagiarism does not make sense. There’s no assertion of the work's origination with Vigneron anywhere in the Wired piece that started this whole fuss. If you attend a musical performance, there is no such expectation that, say, Yo-Yo Ma wrote the cello suite he is performing. In this context, cooking is more like playing the cello than writing a book. If Dufresne wants to protect his intellectual property, he should write a book, which would be copyright protected. Like all artists, cooks rip each other off all the time. I suspect that the current mania for molecular gastronomy may work to create a notion of the molecular chef as auteur, rather than artisan, and thus these allegations of plagiarism.
The Gurgling Cod

‘Top Chef’ Talbot Out at Spitzer’s Corner; FDA Too Weak Even for Industry

Top Chef runner-up Sam Talbot is out at what was to be his debut restaurant, Spitzer’s Corner. [Eater] The FDA is facing increasing ire about its having largely abdicated its regulatory role. Even the produce industry wants the agency to do its job; suppliers are “virtually begging for stronger intervention.” [NYT] Salsa mogul gives the Culinary Institute of America $35 million to advance the careers of Latin cooks and kitchen workers and to “deepen the United States’ relationship with food from Latin America.” [NYT]

Did Marcel From ‘Top Chef’ Really Just Rip Off Wylie Dufresne?

Marcel Vigneron, the memorably unpopular molecular gastronomist from last year’s Top Chef, can add the staff of wd-50 to the long list of people that can't stand him. The place is agog at the effrontery of Vigneron, since they believe he has brazenly ripped off one of chef Wylie Dufresne’s best-known dishes. By the looks of a feature in the current issue of Wired, Vigneron has created a showpiece dish of a “cyber egg,” the yolk of which is made of carrot-cardamom purée, surrounded by a white of hardened coconut milk. Very interesting, given that almost the exact same dish (minus a garnish of foam and carrot) has been served often at wd-50, is featured on the restaurant’s website, and, we are told by members of the staff, has been eaten by Vigneron at least twice. “It’s one thing to be inspired by a dish and to change the flavors to make it your own,” says line cook John Bignelli. “But to just steal everything? How can you do that?” Dufresne, staying above the fray, declined to comment. Tasty Molecules From a Top Chef [Wired] Related: ‘Top Chef’'s Marcel Doesn't Love Joël Robuchon That Much

New York’s Restaurant Jungle Grows a Little Lusher

When spring comes, branches and leaves appear in the most unexpected places. This week’s food coverage is like that: There are no huge openings, analogous to maples or firs springing up overnight, but rather a rich carpet of new sprouts and saplings. Rob and Robin glory in the pig-out that is Resto, the new Belgian restaurant on Park Avenue South; Gael Greene stops in to enjoy the immense, spanking-new Landmarc in the Time Warner Center; David Chang knows just what to do with the long-awaited, precious ramps in In Season; and other unexpected treats, from a waterside barbecue in one of the Short Lists to a slew of spring Openings fill out the foliage.

Alain Ducasse Hates Molecular Gastronomy; BLT Market Pushed Back to August

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

‘Food & Wine’ Parties Rock; Yuppies Heart Joe Jr.’s

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]

‘Top Chef’ Leak! Café des Artistes’ Paulino to Compete

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.

Openings for Dieterle, Pelaccio; Strange Beard Bylaws

Zak Pelaccio and Top Chef’s Harold Dieterle open new restaurants. [NYT] Related: Harold Dieterle’s Perilla to Open ... on Jones Street! [Grub Street] And Jeffrey Chodorow’s new Malaysian restaurant, for which Pelaccio was consulting chef, opens in London. [This Is London] Related: Has the Food Over There Really Become Edible? [NYM] The rat expert who instructed the Department of Health says the city is a rodent’s paradise. [WP]

Josie Malave Named ‘Executive Chef’

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.

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

Tiptoe Through the Molecules With Me ...

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.

All Hail the Top Chef

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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]

Trans Fats Versus Razor Blades; ‘Times’ Inspired by Our Restroom Report

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?

‘Top Chef’ Exclusive: A Chef’s Chef

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

‘Food & Wine’ Burns ‘Top Chef’

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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]

‘Top Chef’ Winner Revealed — For Real!

As you no doubt remember, Ilan Hall quit his post at Casa Mono last week, fueling speculation that he’d taken top prize in Top Chef. Now we have an apparent confirmation: Eater LA has the text of an article that went up on Food & Wine’s Website for about fifteen minutes yesterday. The teaser? “How did Ilan Hall, the 24-year-old with the Tintin ‘do, beat out fourteen other contestants to become Top Chef on the Bravo reality show? And what’s he planning to do with the $100,000 he won?” Oops. Something tells us Food & Wine won’t have such an easy time getting the inside scoop next time. Top Chef Spoiled Again [Eater L.A.] Earlier: ‘Top Chef’ Wannabes, Now Is Your Chance — to Get Baked With Padma Lakshmi [Grub Street] Sam Talbot (Formerly) of ‘Top Chef’ Splurges at Nobu [Grub Street] Red Cat Owner Betting on Ilan to Win ‘Top Chef’ [Grub Street] So Hot She’s Flammable: Host roasted by top chefs. [NYM] ‘Top Chef’'s Marcel Doesn't Love Joël Robuchon That Much [Daily Intel]

‘Top Chef’ Wannabes, Now Is Your Chance — to Get Baked With Padma Lakshmi

We know it might seem like we’ve gone Top Chef crazy these past few days, but so have many New Yorkers. We’re guessing some of you might even want to become contestants on the show. If so, fill out this application and hasten down to the French Culinary Institute on Sunday at noon with a résumé, photo, certificate of veracity, and the insatiable desire to be made a fool of on national TV. (We’ve only got that last thing; otherwise we’d go.) Who knows, if recent allegations are true, you might even get to smoke a joint with Padma Lakshmi. Be the Next Top Chef [Bravo] Padma Lakshmi Is a Literal Pothead [Best Week Ever] Earlier: Sam Talbot (Formerly) of ‘Top Chef’ Splurges at Nobu [Grub Street] Red Cat Owner Betting on Ilan to Win ‘Top Chef’ [Grub Street] ‘Top Chef’'s Marcel Doesn’t Love Joël Robuchon That Much [Daily Intel] So Hot She’s Flammable: Host Roasted by Top Chefs [NYM]

Sam Talbot (Formerly) of ‘Top Chef’ Splurges at Nobu

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.