‘Top Chef’ Contestants a Tame, Lame Bunch
Metromix does a nice job of fleshing out the backgrounds of the New York cheftestants on the upcoming season of Top Chef. But reading the not very scandalous “dirt” on these guys make us wonder if there weren’t five or ten or a thousand more interesting cooks in the city that could have been on the show. Manuel Trevino of Dos Caminos likes football? Whoa! Nikki Cascone of 24 Prince keeps Italian greyhounds? Quel scandal! Given the propensity of New York cooks for drinking, copulating, getting into street fights, and even hitting the dummy pipe, this all strikes us as kind of tame.
‘Top Chef’ Season Four: We’ve got the dirt on this year’s crop of NYC contestants [Metromix]
Related: What to Expect From the New ‘Top Chef’
What’s the City’s Greenest Restaurant™?Self-described “vegetarian bistro” Counter, home of the iridium martini, has become a Certified Green Restaurant™ (we’re required to put a ™ after that, or they’ll force us to drink iridium). Becoming a truly green restaurant in the eyes of the Green Restaurant Association doesn’t happen overnight, but Counter has taken the initial steps by using nontoxic chemicals, energy-efficient lighting, recycling used fryer oil, and using occupancy-sensing lights. Not all green restaurants seek the GRA’s blessing (take what might be the greenest of them all, Birdbath), but for good measure we broke the certified restaurants down according to their current ratings.
Back of the House
‘Top Chef’ Recruits Seven NYC ToquesTop 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
Danny Meyer Might Fix Up Union Square Park; Welcome to ‘Mexhattan’Danny Meyer and the Union Square Partnership are planning to renovate the north end of Union Square Park, including a transformation of the decaying pavilion into a windowless restaurant space. [NYO]
Mia Dona, Donatella Arpaia and Michael Psilakis’s newest baby, will start serving up rustic Italian with Greek influences in midtown next month. Marc Forgione, most recently the corporate chef for the BLT Restaurant Group, is planning an American restaurant for a spring opening. [NYT]
Forget about bringing your junior gastronomes to the finest restaurant Disney World has to offer: Victoria & Albert’s has banned all kids under the age of 10. [NYP]
Meatpacking Moguls Remm, Birnbaum, and Rabin on How to Be CoolOur fave waitress Courtney Yates isn’t the only face Belvedere Vodka is using to try to look cool — the company, in association with UrbanDaddy, is running Web interviews with David Rabin, owner of Los Dados and Lotus, and Eugene Remm and Mark Birnbaum, owners of Tenjune. Remm and Birnbaum don’t exactly steer toward the underexposed when asked for their favorite restaurants: BondSt, Nobu, Bar Pitti, Los Dados, Mr. Chow, the Spotted Pig, Pastis, Buddakan, Dos Caminos Soho, Cipriani, Butter, Rose Bar, and Waverly Inn.
Tom and Gisele Lock Lips at Nobu, ‘Full House’ Cast and the B-52sEarlier this week we linked to a Daily News item claiming Padma Lakshmi rudely refused complimentary dishes from Fiamma’s chef. A commenter wrote, “I was at Fiamma the night Padma was dining there and it absolutely did NOT go down that way. When the dishes arrived at the table, she thanked them profusely and apologized for being too full to eat any of them!” Whatever happened, Padma was just one of many celebs to chow down (or at least show up) at local restaurants this week, and here’s our gossip-column compendium of just who went where.
Pinkberry Domination Continues Apace; Chumley’s in Trouble AgainPinkberry’s quest for world domination becomes more tangible: Its founders have raised $27.5 million in the company’s first round of venture capital. [NYT]
Related: The New Cold War: The Battle for Bleecker Street
Hear the Pinkberry Jingle, Attempt to Get it Out of Your Head
Chumley’s prospective opening date of October 1 has come and gone, possibly because of certain “surprises” the engineers have found, including asbestos and an eroding foundation. [NYP]
Plate of Pig Liver Silences Bruni in Nolita; ‘Top Chef’ Contestant’sAstoria: Coffee and desserts are available at Tell Astorya Cafe on 28th Avenue during events including Friday’s Independent Film nights and afternoon jazz on Saturday. [Joey in Astoria]
Clinton Hill: Former Top Chefer Josie Smith-Malave has named her restaurant on Waverly and Greene Speakeasy. [Clinton Hill Blog]
East Village: The food-feature documentary King Corn opens today at Cinema Village. [Cakehead]
Flatiron: Centro Vinoteca’s Anne Burrell, Heather Carlucci-Rodriguez of Lassi, and Dos Caminos chef Ivy Stark will be cooking for next Thursday’s benefit for Women Chefs & Restaurateurs at the Prince George Ballroom. [Gothamist]
Greenwich Village: Gray’s Papaya on 8th Street has endorsed Bloomberg for president because “he talks the talk, and he’ll walk the walk.” [Blog Chelsea]
Nolita: Frank Bruni is actually at a loss for words to describe a favorite dish that Frank DeCarlo serves at Peasant: “the suckling pig liver will fascinate you because it tastes so very much like other liver you’ve had and yet … and yet … different, but in ways that are tough to pinpoint.” [Diner’s Journal/NYT]
Stark Cuts the Cord With Amalia; Betting on the Next Iron ChefIvy Stark has quit as executive chef at Amalia and may, in fact, return to the B.R. Guest group to spearhead plans for a Dos Caminos Las Vegas. [Foodservice Blog/Nation’s Restaurant News]
Related: Will Ivy Stark Return to B.R. Guest?
Tom Colicchio doesn’t mind that people come to his restaurants for his celebrity, plus he ponders a showdown with Harold Dieterle and Ilan Hall in this Q&A. [Radar]
Caesars Palace is setting the odds to see who will be the Next Iron Chef. Our money’s on Aaron Sanchez. [CNN]
Will Ivy Stark Return to B.R. Guest? We hear from an impeccable source deep inside B.R. Guest that Ivy Stark is returning to Steve Hanson’s corporate embrace, to cook at Dos Caminos. Stark, for her part, only denies half of it. “First of all, I’ve been made an offer but haven’t accepted it,” the Amalia chef says. “It’s not Dos Caminos. It might be some projects with B.R. Guest, but I wouldn’t necessarily be leaving Amalia.”
B.R. Guest to Hop the Barbecue Gravy Train?Now that barbecue has utterly conquered New York, the coast is clear for even the most conservative of restaurant companies to move in and fire up their pits. Even B.R. Guest, the massive company behind such ultrasafe properties as Dos Caminos, Vento, and Ruby Foo’s has one in the works, we hear from one of our best restaurant-industry sources, a businessman with ties to the group.
De Marco’s Bartender Shot in Village Gun Rampage; Big-Check Chains on theDeMarco’s bartender and two NYPD auxiliary officers shot and killed in Village gun rampage. [NYP]
High-end chain restaurants like Smith & Wollensky or Dos Caminos are on the rise, as some recent mergers and acquisitions suggest. [Nation’s Restaurant News]
Joël Robuchon stands behind the counter at L’Atelier this week; Alain Ducasse may not be going to Chicago after all. [Snack]
Back of the House
Does David Burke Come With That Steakhouse?B.R. Guest, the mammoth restaurant group behind Dos Caminos, Ruby Foo’s, and a lot of other big-money operations, is installing a steakhouse in the old Park Avenue Country Club space. The question is, will it be a sister to their hugely successful David Burke Primehouse in Chicago, or just another run-of-the-mill meatery? Burke tells us that negotiations are ongoing (the company is currently giving the name as “Prime’s”). But what’s holding up the negotiation?
Back of the House
B.R. Guest and Buy Our Restaurant GroupWe hear from one of our most reliable sources that a very, very big restaurant deal is about to go through. According to him, the B.R. Guest group, owners of fourteen big Manhattan restaurants including Atlantic Grill, Fiamma, and the Dos Caminos locations, are about to be sold to zillionaire Barry Sternlicht of the Starwood Capital group. B.R. Guest denies it, but apparently, owner Steve Hanson has been looking to unload the group for some time and is already doing business with Sternlicht, a former hotel magnate now wheeling and dealing in private equity and real estate. Looks like we’re about to be somebody else’s guest.
The Kingdom of Navarra Comes to the Borough of ManhattanThe Kingdom of Navarra, as it is fancifully called today, is an autonomous community which is technically a part of Spain and which produces some of the most admired Basque-influenced cookery in the world. We don’t see much of it here in New York, but that will change on Friday, when Navarra Gastronomic Week begins. Classic Navarran dishes like warm partridge and Jabugo ham salad, artichokes fried with tocino (bacon), stuffed piquillo peppers, and a number of Navarran wines and cheeses to go with them will be available at the following restaurants through February 4.
In the Magazine
What Shall We Eat Now That It’s Cold?The rib-sticking cuisine of central Europe, with its spaetzles and schnitzels, comes into its own, of course, when the cold weather arrives. This week, Rob and Robin suggest five restaurants that will sustain you over the winter. About Trestle on Tenth, they write: “Start with the pork-shoulder crepinettes, and proceed directly to the roast lamb saddle with bacon sauce.” Done and done!
R&R also round up four new restaurants on East 50th Street that are giving midtown some much-needed “multicultural flair”: Dos Caminos Third, Gyu-Kaku, I-Chin, and Tunisia Restaurant.
Schlag Is Optional [NYM]
Eats 50th [NYM]
Back of the House
Brits Get No Tips at the London?; Lower Eastpacking District OpeningFlo chart: Guy Martin snubs N.Y. for Boston, the scoop on Tía Pol’s new place, and more. [NYT]
Ramsay’s non-union Brits getting stripped of tips? [Eater]
Marco Moreira to open a Japanese-y restaurant in his old Tocqueville space. [NYS]
The shutter comes down on Park Ave. Cafe. [Crain’s]
The Beard House steps up its game for the celebrity-chef era. [WSJ]
A thirteen-pound sausage belonging to Batali goes missing. [LAT]
Mr. Chow celebrates his new flick with Sharon Stone and Sidney Poitier. [NYP]
Prepare for yet another food festival, this one care of Food Network. [NYP]
Another bar in the Lower Eastpacking District [NYP]
Wagyu import restrictions have eased; Cuozzo explores the “mouth-filling, artery-busting glory” of it all. [NYP]
Dos Caminos, numero tres. [NYP]