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Top Chef

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Marcel and Hung to Hang Together Next Week

The two most unpopular members of the cast of the second and third seasons of Top Chef, Hung Huynh and Marcel Vigneron, are actually friends, and you can meet them both next week.

‘Top Chef’ Spoilers Threaten Our Wednesday Nights

Cigarette Man, the Watcher, and the guy on the grassy knoll have nothing on the Time Out Chicago staff, who have been relentlessly staking out the Top Chef cheftestants and have delivered up what they believe to be a major spoiler about the next four episodes.

Ilan Hall’s Williamsburg Dinner Was a Beau Monde Bash

Ilan Hall’s last night in town before departing out west to open his tapas truck looks like it was a pretty sweet one, judging from the images of Friday’s charity dinner. As we wrote last week, Studiofeast, a swank “culinary collective,” a.k.a. underground supper club, brought in the Top Chef–at–large to cook a fairly elaborate meal for charity. (A portion of the proceeds went to the West Side Campaign Against Hunger.) The slideshow is thin on images of dishes like Hall's bacon-poached swordfish or crispy American Lamb breast with ginger and mint vinegar, but it was enlightening sociologically. Is it just us, or does this look like the Logan’s Run of supper-club events? We knew that Ilan was a member of the beau monde, but assumed that at least some of his customers would be the usual Billyburg lows. In fact, they all looked like people you would expect to be friends with Ilan. Studiofeast: Special Ilan Hall dinner [Studiofeast] Earlier: ‘Top Chef’ Victor Ilan Hall Stealthily Cooks for Williamsburgers

Rachael Ray’s Show Is Safe; ‘Top Chef’ Dale Brought in Stephanie

Yesterday’s report that Rachael Ray’s syndicated daytime TV show was in danger of being canceled was completely bogus. [NYDN] Related: Rachael Ray Encounters a Setback in Global-Domination Scheme Less women in the workforce means less money in the family budget, and that translates to less money going into the hands of restaurateurs. [WSJ] Former Top Cheftestant Dale encouraged Stephanie from this season to audition for the show’s producers. [Bottomless Dish/Citysearch]

Is ‘Top Chef’ Recycling Its Foul-Mouthed, ‘Faux’-Hawked Contestants?

Gawker agrees with us that Erik is the new Howie and points out that indeed all of this season’s chefs seem like rehashes of previous contestants:

Hung and Ilan have been combined into Dale, who is both Asian and smug. Erik, chrome-domed and prone to silver rings, is the new Howie. Spike, bluff and handsome, is the new C.J., and Stephanie, the winner or last night's challenge, is the new Lia.
Best Week Ever agrees the cheftestants overuse the word “motherfucker” and points out the still more hilarious ubiquity of fake mohawks: “Faux-hawks (or ‘foie-hawks’ as they shall henceforth be known when referring to Top Chefs) are clearly the secret ingredient to culinary success.” Sam Mason, you heard! Don’t miss the gallery. Related: 'Top Chef' Is Full of Motherfuckers [Gawker] The 10 Greatest Faux-Hawks in 'Top Chef' History [Best Week Ever] ‘Top Chef’ Is Back, and Adam Platt Isn't Happy About It [NYM]

Ilan Hall to Open Tapas Truck in L.A.; Chefs Keep on Blogging

Top Chef champ Ilan Hall’s rumored L.A project is now a restaurant truck that serves tapas and has a foldout bar. [MSNBC] Related: For Ilan Hall, a Taco Shack of One’s Own The president of Westland/Hallmark Meat Co., the California beef company responsible for the largest meat recall in American history, acknowledged yesterday the illegal slaughter of sick cows at his plant after a congressional panel forced him to watch the undercover video depicting the abuse. [WSJ] Chefs’ blogs keep getting better and better, and there are increasingly more and more of them. At what point are they all just going to leave the kitchen and become full-time bloggers? [LAT]

Robert Irvine’s Career Officially Over; Chodorow Plans Hot New Rooftop Lounge

We’re surprised it took this long to happen, but “celebrity chef” Robert Irvine, known of late for his lies about his background, has announced that he will not proceed with the opening of two planned restaurants in St. Petersburg. [This Just In/St. Petersburg Times] Related: Surprise, Surprise: Robert Irvine Gets the Boot From the Food Network The best way to taste the dishes on Top Chef is to head to the toques’ post-Bravo places of employment in New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, and San Francisco. [Zagat Buzz] Frank Bruni muses on the tourist-tipping problem, noting that he’s not a fan of automatic gratuity charges since they prevent diners from communicating their pleasure or irritation with the service. [Diner’s Journal/NYT]

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

Pizza Prices Definitely Going Up; Bruni Loves Björk

There’s no doubt about it: Pizza prices are going up. A survey of pizzerias around town — well, below 14th Street, anyway — reveals that slice prices are almost unanimously going to increase over the next few months, owing to the soaring price of flour. [City Room/NYT] Though the National Labor Relations Board ruled more than two weeks ago that Saigon Grill‘s deliverymen must be rehired with full back pay, delivery service at both locations remains suspended and there are doubts about its returning anytime soon. [Villager] You can learn so much from hanging out at Ko and the Rusty Knot, like how good Jay-Z is at playing pool. [Mouthing Off/Food & Wine]

Top Chef Hung Huynh Has the ‘Most Amazing Chinese Meal Ever’

Last season’s Top Chef winner Hung Huynh, who previously cooked at Per Se, Gilt, Manhattan Ocean Club, and others, is back from a year and a half at Guy Savoy in Las Vegas — this week he started as executive chef at Solo. The Mediterranean-Asian restaurant happens to be kosher, meaning Huynh can’t use his beloved fish sauce or sherry vinegar. “I’m pretty limited to proteins,” he tells us. “I have to be a little bit more creative with my flavor profiles.” If Padma and Tom paid a visit, he says, he’d probably serve them his sweetbreads glazed with truffles and served with lemon-honey carrots. But forget what he’s cooking; we’re more interested in what he ate this week.

‘Top Chef’ Victor Ilan Hall Stealthily Cooks for Williamsburgers

In what may be your last chance to taste the quirky cuisine of Ilan Hall before he heads to L.A., Studiofeast, a self-described “invitation-only culinary collective” based in Williamsburg, has tapped the former Top Chef winner to prepare the latest of its feasts, to be held at a secret location on Friday. The $100 ticket price (a portion of which goes to the West Side Campaign Against Hunger) doesn’t get you booze — but you’re welcome to either bring a bottle of Two-Buck Chuck or pick up a pack of wines recommended for pairing with Berkshire pork tartare (with popcorn emulsion), bacon-poached swordfish (with “Ilan Chon” skin salad), crispy American lamb breast (with ginger and mint vinegar), and Scottish rice pudding. Get on this fast, because space is limited. Special Guest: Ilan Hall [Studiofeast] Related: For Ilan Hall, A Taco Shack of One’s Own

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]

‘Top Chef’ Contestants a Tame, Lame Bunch

nikki cascone and manuel treviso
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’