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Everything You Want to Know About ‘Top Chef’

Have you had your fill of pre-season-four Top Chef hype yet? No? Well, fix yourself a cup of coffee and settle in for a good, long read. Hosts Tom Colicchio and Padma Lakshmi did a loooong conference call with reporters yesterday, and the results can be found in a six-page post on Monsters and Critics, among other places. Among the highlights: Tom saying that he never has a conversation with the contestants outside of the kitchen, and Padma adding “And actually, I really don’t want to.” We were also pleased to learn that the single worst thing Padma ate in the four seasons of Top Chef was made by none other than Ilan Hall. (Though she points out that he made one of the best dishes, too.) It's not the same as watching the show, but it should hold you until the premiere on March 12. A Chat with Bravo's 'Top Chef' Padma Lakshmi and Tom Colicchio [Monsters and Critics] Related: Grub Street's complete coverage of Top Chef

Dovetail's Food Editor–Hostess Tells Her Tale; Dessert Truck vs. Treats Truck Tonight

The Food & Wine editor–cum–hostess at Dovetail had a hard time learning the ropes of the job at first, but by the end she learned that star ratings from critics matter, and there’s more to being a hostess than checking coats. [TONY] Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has filed a suit against Tonic East for “a pattern or practice of denying African-Americans from admittance into its club.” [Down by the Hipster] Unbeknownst to us, rapper Coolio has a cooking show on the Web called, succinctly, Cookin’ With Coolio, but he might not be the most adventurous kitchen personality we’ve ever seen: “I don’t like pork, I don’t eat pork, and I don’t cook pork.” [Serious Eats]

Anthony Bourdain Officially Overexposed

Anthony Bourdain
Copyranter came across this ad of a floating Tony Bourdain gazing at us from tropical waters. Like the image of a hirsute Tom Colicchio, we find it discomfiting. This is one of several ads touting the Travel Channel’s high-definition programming. Presumably, if you have a hi-def TV, you’ll be able to see more of Bourdain than you’d ever want. ...and some things are not [Copyranter]

‘Nightline’ Exposes Tom Colicchio’s Hirsute Past

Tom Colicchio
Nightline did a loving, lingering profile of Craft chieftain Tom Colicchio last night, and the substance of the piece is on ABC’s Website today. It’s all interesting stuff — why Colicchio loves mushrooms, how he developed his style, his rough-and-tumble boyhood and all that — but the real value in the story is this truly bizarre picture of Colicchio with hair! It’s a strange, unsettling image, and the sooner we forget it, the better we’ll feel. Nightline Platelist: Tom Colicchio [ABC]

Shipwrecked With Padma Lakshmi

Padma Lakshmi
We met Top Chef hostess Padma Lakshmi on a yacht in Miami Beach yesterday. No, it was not a private cruise. Padma was shilling Vacheron watches and graced us with a brief interview. I see they have a menu on the yacht tonight that is your doing. I didn’t cook this menu. But if you try some of the recipes from my book, I know you’ll enjoy them. Eh, I probably won’t. They’re all for healthy little salads and curries and so forth, right? Uh, no! This just proves that you haven’t even opened my book up! [Laughing.] The best recipe in it is for brisket wrapped in bacon.

’Wichcraft Asks, ‘How You Like Them Heirloom Tomatoes?’

Last week ’wichcraft jumped on the know-where-your-food-comes-from bandwagon by replacing the plain ol’ numbers on its “table cards” (doled out to customers so servers can locate them) with semi-campy descriptions of how its food is sourced. We’re glad we can now bite into a BLT (served only during “BLT season”) knowing that the applewood-smoked bacon was custom-made by D’Artagnan and the Ozark Mountain Pork Cooperative, and the heirloom tomatoes come from Eckerton Hill Farm in Pennsylvania. As you can see by reading the cards, there are other fun facts: The pastrami comes from the West Coast (via David’s Old World), the jelly is made from “greenmarket fruit that [our chef] just can’t resist,” and the tuna comes from our own Primizie Foods (hence mercury levels “so low they’re often untraceable”). One quibble: What’s up with referring to “soda” as “pop”? Did Jersey boy Colicchio pick this up from Danny Meyer when he was at Gramercy Tavern? ’wichcraft table cards [PDF]

What to Expect From the New ‘Top Chef’

We just screened the first episode of this season’s Top Chef, and again, we find the show compelling. And just the same as previous ones! Padma speaks slowly, Tom is bald and cocky, and Rocco DiSpirito and Tony Bourdain are back onboard. The location is a nonfactor — the main contribution Chicago makes is a Pizzeria Uno product placement. But the contestants still fit into those archetypes we love to argue about with Adam Platt.

Adam Platt: Latest Great Food Mind on WOR

For those of you who only know Adam Platt from his mordant restaurant reviews and IM chats, the next best thing is Friday’s interview with Mike Colameco on "Food Talk." Colameco has been on a tear lately — recent guests have included Frank Bruni, Tom Colicchio, and Marco Pierre White. But there’s only one Platt. You won’t get the hangdog expression, the pumpkin-size head, the blinking, beady eyes, but you’ll get a sense of what Platt is like in person. Listen to the MP3 to find out what Platt’s looking forward to in 2008. Adam Platt on WOR’S Food Talk [mp3]

‘Top Chef’ Cookbook Remains a Mystery to Us

When we got the Top Chef Cookbook press release yesterday, we were immediately consumed with curiosity. The tome purports to include "dishes from the Elimination Rounds and the Quick-Fire Challenges, daring fans to join the fun by recreating their favorite recipes at home," but beyond that there aren’t many details. Will C.J.s burnt broccolini, which Tom Colicchio considered the worst dish ever served on Top Chef, be in there? Or maybe his green tuna casserole, which Tony Bourdain compared to something found on the floor of an Irish bar on Saint Patrick’s Day? It’s safe to say that the show’s winning recipes, like Howie’s pork and beans seasoned with baldie sweat, will be there, in cleaned-up form. However until we get our copy, we can’t say. As for the book’s other touted features, such as “in-depth discussions with contestants, judges and crew,” there’s only one question that matters to us: Was Padma high the whole time or not? Bravo Media Announces "Top Chef: The Cookbook" Published By Chronicle Books [Snack] Related: Adam Platt Was Right About ‘Top Chef’ All Along

Ten Moments to Remember From 2007

“Life fades … vision dims … and all that remains is memory.” Such are the haunting first words of The Road Warrior, and we can’t help but think of them as we look back, through heavy lids, at the year that was. 2007 was a memorable restaurant year in so many ways, but there are a few that stick out in our minds. Our favorite moments of the last year would definitely have to include:

‘Top Chef’ Now Invades Last Imaginable Personal Space

There’s the Top Chef blog, Top Chef reruns, the endless media fodder about Padma and Tom and Dave Martin’s new restaurant, and all the speculation about next season, which judge Gail Simmons tells us is definitely the best one yet. This being the aughts, though, the show needs to expand its mindshare in the off-season and has done so with a wireless game on AT&T and Sprint. Top Chef Challenge proved impossible to download onto a new iPhone, but its creator sent us a phone with the game installed. It’s ridiculous, as is Top Chef, but like the show, it actually draws in some crazy way on the realities of cooking.

Heatherette, Batali Take Away Lunchbox Stigma for Charity

lunchbox auction
At the Lunchbox Auction for the Food Bank for New York City, Tom Colicchio said what Jada Yuan and our camera crew were thinking: “Lunchboxes aren’t cool!” But they were last night, as artists, chefs, and celebrities designed lunchboxes to be sold for charity. Flea’s deconstructionist lunchbox (“It looks like Flea has run over his lunchbox with a small tractor,” marveled Patti Smith) was a favorite, and Heatherette’s pink-and-purple glitter-fest was a feat, considering Traver Rains bought the hot lunch as a kid. To see lunchbox designs from Beyoncé and hear Molto Mario’s bidding strategy, watch the video. Video Party Lines: Lunchbox Auction

Cook Like Your Favorite Chefs With Our New Recipe Database!

Recipes
The hardworking listings department at nymag.com has just added a stellar new feature: recipes! Our extensive database includes dishes drawn from New York’s finest restaurants. Get Laurent Tourondel’s instructions for chestnut-stuffed guinea hens; serve Tom Colicchio’s bruschetta of clam ragout; and assemble your own tartlets, just like they do at Gramercy Tavern. Search by ingredient, cuisine, type of dish, and more. Now there’s no excuse to eat out. nymag.com's Recipe Finder

Theater-District Restaurants May Lay Off Workers; Where the Chefs Go

After three weeks of declining customers, theater-district restaurants fear layoffs. [NYP] Related: Theater Strike Could Drop Curtain on Midtown Restaurants Chefs including Tom Colicchio, Nicole Kaplan, and Marco Canora reveal where they really eat in the city (think Wing Wong and Bellavitae). [Diner’s Journal/NYT] From the in-laws to the office party, a list of restaurants to turn to for every holiday scenario.[Strong Buzz]

Pastry Royalty Performs at Sweet

The city’s top dessert chefs, from Johnny Iuzzini on down, delighted deep-pocketed foodies with their signature confections at Sweet on Friday night. Evian and Ferro Rocher flexed their marketing muscle, dispatching well-formed young people in tight clothes to represent their not especially sexy brands. The pastry aristocracy (Goldfarb, Iuzzini, and Stupak) were all present and accounted for, standing proudly behind space-age-looking creations that tasted even better than they looked. (Only Sam Mason wasn’t around, as someone had to man the stoves at Tailor.) At first we were sort of alarmed: There were obviously many more guests than had originally been intended, for the long, narrow, space, but since cake isn’t combustible, it all seemed safe enough. A body can only take so much chocolate ganache, Champagne, and high-powered pastry cooks crammed into one hall.