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Archive for July, 2010

Top Chef: Another two bite the dust

Credit: Bravo TV

Credit: Bravo TV

On last night’s installment of “Top Chef,” the cheftestants learned that — come Judgment Munch — two of them would go down as a team, sucked into the fiery pit of discarded Glad bags and Tracey’s lamb sliders.

Cruel fate. First they had to spend all morning making baby food for Padma and Tom’s squealing spawn. Then they went through some sort of three-squares round robin elimination, preparing breakfast, lunch and dinner items for the Hilton hotel chain to consider for its menus. After each meal, a couple of winning teams were peeled off until three remained.

Kelly and Andrea won for their set of gorgeously glazed short ribs. As a special bonus, they each got a week’s vacation in a glamorous European city. How very circa 1975 “Let’s Make a Deal” of the “Top Chef” producers.

But Lynne and Arnold went down for a dish of mussels with squid ink pasta that everyone said was delicious. As Tom Colicchio wrote in his blog, “As has happened countless times in the past, …

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ABC: Anything but Chardonnay

photo-25For much of the year my wife and I go down on different sides of the wine divide. She’d rather open a bottle of white, and I almost always defer to red.

But hot weather means cool wines, and I’m more than happy to join the white side in the height of summer. Just one rule: I’d really rather drink anything but chardonnay.

Sure, there are some great — usually way expensive — white Burgundies and California chardonnays to be had. But the majority of widely available examples are usually:

  • Too alcoholic. When I’m drinking a chilled white wine, I don’t want it to be 14% alcohol. I want it to cool me down, not make me sweat.
  • Too oaky. So many New World chardonnays have a wood-barrel flavor that seems to compete with the wine’s fruit.
  • Too cloying. More than a few winemakers leave some residual sugar in their chardonnays to make them palatable to a broader audience.

So I usually buy a mixed case of some super cheap and some reasonably cheap white wine to rotate through the fridge. I …

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Chefs salary survey results


The trade Web site has released its annual survey of chefs salaries around the country. The finding show that average salaries in 2009 were up from 2008 but not yet at the levels of 2007 for chefs in managerial positions. For sous chefs and line cooks, the trend continued downward.

Other findings:

  • Women and African-American chefs are paid significantly less than white men.
  • Chefs in New York City, Miami and San Francisco earned less than those in Boston and Chicago.
  • Executive chefs have an average 60-hour work week.

You can read the full results of the survey here.

To any chefs reading this blog: Do these numbers jibe with what you’ve experienced in Atlanta?

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Revisit (and a plea): Table 1280

Halibut with pea shoots and cauliflower

Halibut with pea shoots and cauliflower

Chef Tracey Bloom did not last long on the current season of “Top Chef.” Asked to leave after the third episode, Bloom later told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the stress got to her. The lack of sleep, rigorous filming schedule, and being away from both her partner and her partner’s young daughter took their toll.

But Bloom’s quick turn on reality television did bring attention to Table 1280 — the important Atlanta restaurant where she is chef.

Built as part of the High Museum of Art expansion in 2005, the restaurant opened as a beautiful and promising addition to the Midtown dining scene. It juts into the open “piazza” that architect Renzo Piano formed from his addition, the original Richard Meier High building and the Woodruff Arts Center. At the time of its opening, Piano talked at length about how a piazza — or public square — would benefit the fabric of urban Atlanta. It would be an aesthetically pleasing environment for …

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Roasted apricots: Better than fresh?

Fresh apricots, headed for the oven

Fresh apricots, headed for the oven

Have I ever eaten a really great fresh apricot? Has anybody?

Every year around this time, local markets start offering California apricots, and I always bite. Something about this suede-soft orange fruit speaks to me — or maybe to the collective unconscious I share.

We all know from years of eating preserves, fruit leather and springy orange squares in our muesli that apricots are unusually familiar to our palates — their particular expression of sugar, acid and tannins earn them a spot on Western civilization’s top ten list of iconic fruit flavors.

In Eastern Europe, apricot still ranks as a top flavor — both in natural and artificial formulas — for drinks, pastries and confections. Throughout Turkey, the Middle East and the Caucasus region (where the fruit has been cultivated since ancient times) dried apricots and apricot preserves are beyond ubiquitous.

So it would follow that we should all eat as many fresh apricots as we can during the …

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CNN’s Eatocracy blog spotlights the King of Pops

The pop-meister of Poncey-Highland, Steven Carse, is the subject of this video report on CNN. If you want to know when to find the cart, follow the King’s Twitter feed. He heads out at noon on the 4th of July.

Continue reading CNN’s Eatocracy blog spotlights the King of Pops »

“Top Chef” Recap: Pacer Fehc Pot

Top ChefOn tonight’s very unusual episode of “Top Chef,” we begin with Tracey, our lone Atlantan, staring into the camera. She is not bitter. She is not crying.

“If I had better prepared myself emotionally for it, I’d still be competing,” she says with an air of resignation. The judges were fair, and she has packed her knives.

Tom Colicchio had nothing but harsh words for our girl, calling her rawish and over-fenneled Italian sausage patty “insulting to Italians, me included.” And yet she served this atrocity to a group of esteemed judges — the voracious Padma, the dessert queen Gail, some dude named Jonathan Waxman — as well as several busloads of unsuspecting Capitol Hill interns.

Tracey’s sausage squishies were even more vile that Stephen’s logs of stringy sea bass wrapped in limp bacon and served on oil-slick couscous; and Timothy’s beans, which were bland enough to cause fits of mass pique. Arnold’s winning lamb jobbers on lemongrass sticks? Now, that’s good eating, the judges …

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