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Hungry Magazine - All Things Tasty
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Feature Archive 'Bites: News and Miscellany'

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01.15.09

30 Seconds on Top Chef: Cook Worse than Sandra Lee Edition

Bites: News and Miscellany


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Welcome to sprockets. Pet my chicken. Pet it!

1 – Quickfire challenge: cook with canned garbage. It’s official, Top Chef is now Top Chef Sandra Lee – Semi-Homemade: You use 90% horrible ingredients paid for by your commercial advertisers and 10% talented cooks, and Bravo get’s 100% of the credit for ruining what was once a decent food show.

2 – I was hoping we were going Top Chef Abbatoir and the teams would have to kill their protein.

4 – Do any of these people know how to do any dessert that isn’t a tart, a custard, or a bread pudding? And it looks like they don’t even know how to make a custard, because team pig’s looks totally scrambled.

5 – Does Toby Young sit at home in the dark writing down nursery rhymes and contrived zingers he can use on TV. “The pesto is the big bad wolf that blew this pig’s house down.” Seriously?

6 – Dan Barber just compared some of the desserts to airline food….

7 – Leah: “I’ve rolled many things and tied it up”…..hahaha

8 - PETA is officially on Toby Young watch, as he wants to have “full blown unprotected sex” with pork.

9 – Ariane she gone. Hosea’s girlfriend Leah is saved.

01.09.09

Resolutions for a Culinary Revolution

Bites: News and Miscellany


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I punked out a few times this year. Tired and overworked and having drunk too much bourbon or ingested too much garlic (I’m mildly allergic) on a Pat-Bruno-worthy Italian red-sauce bender, I’ve occasionally written a few columns that didn’t require a whole lot of research (like this one). I’ve hated myself for it. Shame on me. I plan on doing better next year. But, I’m not the only one who mails it in from time to time in the culinary world, and so in the spirit of the New Year, I give you my resolutions for the Chicago food community. More »

01.07.09

30 Seconds on Top Chef, brought to you by Diet Dr. Pepper

Bartender, Pour me a Drink: Alcohol and Spirits, Bites: News and Miscellany


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Hello Padma, do you have any French in you…

1- As usual, at least one chef is surprised there’s a dessert challenge…dude, there’s been a dessert challenge every single season.
2- Radhika breaks out of the Indian cooking stereotype and wins the quickfire
3- Oh, lord, Stephanie Izard just pimped Diet Dr. Pepper in the commercial break
4- Carla is a total whack-job
5- Shouldn’t they always anonymously judge the dishes?
6- Ha, ha, Toby Young, Anthony Bourdain would like his schtick back.
7- How does Toby know what cat food tastes like? Has he been dining with his pets?
8- Ariane should definitely win Top Chef Obvious – skate wing with brown butter…dude, Escoffier was making that (granted without pineapple)
9- I’m officially printing a “Team Stefan” t-shirt, he’s the most arrogant bastard I’ve ever loved.
10- Colicchio doesn’t like raw garlic in gremolata…I thought that was the classic preparation…either way I love the raw spiciness myself…maybe that’s why I’m not a judge on Top Chef.
11- I bet Toby and the French judge dude Jean Christophe (Jeff Goldblum’s lost twin brother) or whatever would make sweet sweet love together
12- I think most of the judges are acting on prejudice rather than reality regarding the daikon with tomato basil. Daikon is so mild, I’m pretty sure it could be a base for anything.
13- Melissa and Eugene, they gone.
14- Oh, and this has nothing to do with Top Chef, but Oprah just came on, and I know she’s complaining about letting herself become a fatty again, but I think she looks pretty good.

12.20.08

Chris Ware, Grim Gastronomic Griper

Bites: News and Miscellany


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Chris Ware, Chicago’s comic laureate, does some culinary related hating in the Nov 24th food issue of New Yorker (you have to be a digital or print subscriber to see the actual panel). The panel depicts a fear and loathing organic macaroni and cheese cooking mother (potentially a descendant of Cathy Guisewite’s cartoon Cathy) who must entertain her architect husband’s clients while enduring post-modern style gastronomy dinners of “molecularly reduced cucumber foam”. Ware’s strip says, “I think aestheticizing the sense of taste is a classist, morally, indefensible notion, a function of privilege rather than of necessity, especially when it comes at such expense…” More »

12.17.08

30 Seconds on Top Chef: Martha Stewart Untethered

Bites: News and Miscellany


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milli

Blame it on the fridge…the new single from Milli Fusili, in stores now

1 - WTF is there a Christmas theme…wasn’t this show filmed last summer? Can anyone say scripted?

2 - So do the Top Chefs really respect Martha Stewart or just the fact that she’s made money doing food TV?

3 - damn…sea scallops….did Jamie forget the Spike/Tramonto disaster last year?

4 - How come everyone is using five pots for a one pot cooking challenge?

5 - Yeah, I’m sure Martha puts on her scuba gear and goes “diving” for scallops.

6 - How do you sear off a duck breast, when polenta is in the bottom of the pot?

7 - Why isn’t Top Chef called Top Caterer? Every other challenge is cooking for 300.

8 - Hey Fabio, how about Tiramisu with nine lady fingers?

9 - Radhika makes pear chutney. What? Indian food? That’s totally out of the box

10 - Where’s Liam Neeson? Jailed in Natasha Richardson’s cleavage?

11 - I would have done the most kick ass onion rings ever for “Five Golden Rings”

12 - Korbel – this is your grandfather’s bubbly. Did they do Cold Duck shooters afterward?

13 - No one gone. Top Chef is soft.

12.15.08

Gabbin with Gras

Bites: News and Miscellany


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You can run Laurent Gras over, but you can’t stop him. Though Gras, the chef of L20 in Lincoln Park, was hit by a car while cycling earlier this year, he’s already resumed a nineteen-hour workday and kicks out four-hour bike rides on his days off. In the last two months he also picked up best-new-restaurant honors from Esquire magazine and Newcity. I checked in with Gras to see how he was doing post-recovery and to see what was afoot at Chicago’s high-end seafood emporium. More »

12.11.08

Top Chef: Killer Cleavage Edition

Bites: News and Miscellany


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danny

Aye, Mr. Miyagi, please teach me crane kick

1 –I’d like to see Stefan and Richard Blais have a stand-off to see who can be the bigger arrogant bastard.

2 - Quickfire: I wonder if these dudes can actually taste what’s in the sauce, or they’re just naming ingredients in a traditional mole.

3 - Hosea and Stefan and Colicchio, aka Team Chrome Dome, has supplanted Team Rainbow

4 - You couldn’t pay me enough to subject my own marriage, bridal shower, or any important event to the whims of a reality television cooking show.

5 - Blue team should try to make a Smurf shaped cake for Gail Simmons shower

6 - Did Stefan just call Hosea “Doucheboy”?

7 - Radhika makes a raita….it’s official, she is the token Indian cook.

8 - Stefan is so cocky he thinks he can turn a lesbian.

9 - Jeff is wearing two watches on his left wrist. Is that like a modern take on the 80’s gummi bracelets phenomenon?

10 - Nothing says overfished unsustainable 90’s catering cliché like Chilean Sea Bass

11 - I think Food and Wine magazine only hires hot women.

12 - The judging panel looks hammered from Gail’s shower. Padma is a little glassy eyed. Not to mention I haven’t seen this much cleavage since the San Andreas fault.

13 – Danny, he gone.

14 - Next week, Martha Stewart and the Top Chefs swap inside stock trading tips.

12.05.08

30 Seconds on Top Chef: Dancing with Rocco Edition

Bites: News and Miscellany


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boboli

Remember, only you can top Boboli!

1- Rocco – is he going to ask the chefs to do an impromptu Dancing With the Stars episode?

2-Hey, Stefan, they’ve been cutting the tops off eggs at Arpege and The French Laundry for years, try something original.

3-Breakfast challenge…I hope someone makes a micro-egg mcmuffin.

4-I thought Rocco was going to give Leah some Bertolli frozen pasta for winning the quickfire.

5-Come up with a two and a half minute recipe? I thought this was Top Chef, not Top Chef: Rachael Ray on amphetamines edition.

6-Alex thinks by doing desert that he’s going to stand out. He clearly hasn’t watched Top Chef ever….can you say, elimination?

7-Tom and Gail are doing a really good job pretending to be brain dead morning show hosts.

8-Hi, I’m Stefan. Welcome to sprockets. Pet my monkey. Pet it.

9-Kathie Lee is like the Sarah Palin of morning television. Somebody should banish her to one of her sweatshops.

10-Alex, he gone.

12.03.08

The Next Black Truffle Explosion?

Bites: News and Miscellany


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mash chocolate

Photo Courtesy: Lara Kastner

Tonight, I asked Grant Achatz if I could hug him. Fortunately, he had the foresight to preserve our collective dignity, and he said no. It wasn’t just the glass of Jean Louis Chave Hermitage Blanc, Rhone 2000 talking, either. Rather, it was a dish named Chestnut, quince, chocolate, baked potato.

On paper, the dish looks like what you’d chow down on at 3 a.m. after you break out the water bong and smoke down a Snoop Dogg sized portion of kush….which is to say, what would happen if possessed by monster munchies and a fogged noggin, you head to your kitchen cupboard determined to hook up a loaded baked potato only find that you have some Hershey’s chocolate syrup, a moldy quince, some petrified chestnuts, and a bag of Idaho Russets left over. This, of course, is an imaginary construct, since the only stoner even remotely likely to have such a pantry would be Andrew D’Ambrosi of Top Chef, season 4.

But that being said, from Achatz’s palate to the plate to my tongue, it’s the best dish I’ve ever had in the Alinea kitchen, even better than the black truffle explosion or hot potato, cold potato. Sure, those two plates serve up a batch of comfort that would soothe you even if your life resembled all of the worst scenario country music songs combined, but, they’re almost totally predictable. What’s not classic about pasta dough, black truffles, and parmesan?

With “chestnut”, you still get a heavy dose of comfort with a dollop of warm mashed potatoes so creamy, your denture-free grandma would approve, but that’s followed by an explosion of chocolate gelee so congruous with the mashed spuds in your mouth, but so inconceivable in your brain, that even Jacques Torres on an acid trip could never conceive of this.

Over the next week or so, I’ll likely parse my whole experience of the Keller/Achatz $1,500 a head meal at Alinea to celebrate the publication of their new cookbooks in a couple of articles I have planned, but this was one moment and one bite, hugs or not, that couldn’t wait.

(Caveat: As longtime readers know, I’m a stickler against taking comped meals, even for features. But, as a contributing author on the Alinea book, I made an exception for what I suspected might turn out to be one of the great opportunities and experiences of my life, one that I could not otherwise afford.

I do believe you have to be in the room to tell the story, and I needed, for a variety of reasons, to get in to this particular room. While I’m grateful for Keller and Achatz’s generosity, I do believe I can still judge the experience with integrity. On the other hand, given all this information, that’s for you to decide.)

11.27.08

30 Seconds on Top Chef: Foo Fighters Edition

Bites: News and Miscellany


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smore

Don’t mess with my S’Mores or I will have Padma impale you on my Global chef’s knife.

1 – They should make the chefs cook a recipe from the Alinea cookbook instead of the Top Chef cookbook….based on the ten journalists who, already determined to fail and write pithy anecdotes about how horrible the experience was, we know cooking from the Alinea book would clearly be way more challenging.

2 – Cooking for the Foo Fighters – I smell a tempura battered Mentos course with a side of Pennyroyal Tea (ok, technically that’s Nirvana)

3 - 18 vegetarians in the Foo Fighters entourage = Cross your fingers for Tofurkey!

4 – Fabio doesn’t care if wins this challenge as his favorite band is clearly Il Divo.

5 – Stefan and Fabio just kissed. I think Team Rainbow just got bigger.

6 – Can anyone say Butterball commercial?

7 – Tom “Hottie Gay Icon Bear” Colicchio – best nickname ever

8 – Taylor Hawkins doesn’t like pumpkin foam…hahaha…does he know he’s sitting across from Grant Achatz? Someone should tell him about liquid caramel popcorn and dehydrated bacon.

9 – Jeannie – dude what’s with the Flashdance headband? This isn’t a Culture Club concert.

10 – Jamie – he gone. Team Rainbow lost another color.

11.20.08

30 Seconds on Top Chef: Colicchio Surrenders Craft Edition

Bites: News and Miscellany


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wax

Dude,I know this great place to get your head waxed on the Upper West Side

1 – Donatella and Padma in the same room seems like a recipe for a diva fight.
2 – Fabio, a hot dog is a sausage, jackass.
3 – If Radhika makes a Chicago dog or a curry and chutney dog, she should go home.
4 – Oh, snap, she’s doing a Indian kebab dog…she really does want to be the token Indian contestant.
5 – Nothing says con-“fusion” like an “around the world” dog
6 – Stefan is “miserable”…raise your hand if you didn’t see a series of existential crises coming….
7 – Radhika wins quickfire….Now Stefan is going to challenge Radhika to a Bollywood dance-off
8 – My names is Hans (Stefan) and my name is Franz (Fabio) and we’re here to pump you up….
9 - Fabio wants to be big in the bear community….(I assume since he says he wants to be everything that Colicchio is)
10 – Hosea’s dish…nothing says San Francisco dining 1986 like crab and avocado in a ring mold.
11 – Shouldn’t Colicchio as an expediter be tasting these dishes and sending them back if they suck
12 – Jill looks a little like Trishelle from Real World Vegas….oooh, maybe there will be some sexcapades this season.
13 – Donatella only needs a “good chorizo” to make her happy….I think I’ll take the high road here.
14 – By “my favorite dessert” Padma means she didn’t wretch and spit it out in her napkin.
15 – Girl you know it’s true, Fabio, they love you, ooh, ooh, ooh
16 – As a model, isn’t spitting food in to her napkin a professional skill for Padma?
17 – Jill, she gone…

11.18.08

Q and A with Winemaker Steve Rogstad

Bites: News and Miscellany, Grape Pun: All Things Wine


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stever

Steve Rogstad is a winemaking wunderkind. Raised in the Pacific Northwest, the man knows a thing or two about the grape. What does come as a surprise however, is how charmingly different his demeanor is compared to the prissy wine snob we’ve all inevitably had the displeasure of dining with. His cool-dude ‘tude, rounded out by the funky tie-dye T-shirt he was sporting when we met, made this California native an enigmatic lunch companion. In town for Chicago’s Pinot Days event taking place on Navy Pier, Steve managed to squeeze in a few hours of his day to sit down with me and discuss his prized wines (Cuvaison wines), the effect media has on wine trends, and a discussion of the Pinot Days wine event in Chicago. More »

11.13.08

30 Seconds on Top Chef New York: Welcome back to the jungle baby!

Bites: News and Miscellany


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dbag

Hello, is my hair perfect?

1 - I’m not sure what that bikini shot in the intro has to do with being a Top Chef.
2 - Jeff McInnis – d-bag alert.
3 - Daniel Gagnon – this year’s Howie.
4 - Stefan – welcome to Sprockets.
5 - Quickfire: Right, because being Top Chef is all about how you can peel an apple.
6 - Nothing says token Indian competitor like apple chutney.
7 – I wish, just for once, they would put reality show contestants up in a shack. Of course they served them Korbel champagne, which I believe is the official bubbly of the homeless, or the reverse Miller High life, aka the beer of champagnes.
8 – Russian food – shots of vodka with caviar blini
9 – The alert has been revoked– Jeff is a d-bag
10 –I’m officially in love with Gail Simmons.
11 – Richard proves once again that Tom Colicchio is big in the bear community
12 – Jean George – “Your technique of overcooking the lamb didn’t work for me….” Hahaha…
13 – Right because all Jamaicans are Rastafarians.
14 – It’s nice how they turn down the lights and make the set all scary for elimination.
15 – Patrick – he gone. It’s Top Chef, not Top Chef Recent Culinary School Grad

11.12.08

The Prez-Elect has no (culinary) clothes?

Bites: News and Miscellany


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obamado

Psst, hey chief, carrying Dunkin Donuts is like having a middle name like Hussein. Might we suggest you head to Old Fashioned Donut in Roseland for an apple fritter?

I drank the Obama Kool-Aid, but it took a while. I didn’t quite see him as the messiah as quickly as everyone else. I may not be a native Chicagoan, but I’ve lived here long enough to see the Hired Truck Scandal, unapologetic nepotism, a woeful Tax Increment Financing system, one that lent 18 million dollars from my tax district to build a new public school that, because of politics, my 19 month old son may never be allowed to attend.

And, unlike the tangential ridiculous relationships with Bill Ayers or Osama Bin Laden that republicans attempted to paint as BFF or is that BTFF ? (best terrorist friends forever) situations, Obama was closer to the most recently indicted Blago buddy Tony Rezko. In fact, there was that whole shady land deal to buy his sweet Kenwood crib. I wondered could any Chicago politician, Obama included, grow up here successfully without kowtowing to the system at some point? Call it gun-shyness. Call it skepticism. Call it what you want. I call it the Chicago way. More »

11.06.08

The Itinerants

Bites: News and Miscellany


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paskewitz

Geno Bahena (pictured above at right), Eric Aubriot, Daniel Kelly, and Jason Paskewitz (pictured above at left). They’re some of Chicago’s most talented chefs, so why do they move around so much?

When I was a kid, I would drift off into fantasies of the future. Impatiently, I imagined myself married, living in a far-off arbitrary city, picking names for my twin children, and lapping up the joys of my day-to-day job as a marine biologist. The security and the routine of this desirously long-term life made me eager to grow up fast. Who wouldn’t want stability? To settle down and nest with the spouse and the bundle of joy? To rake in steady streams of dough from graduation day until retirement? Awakened from my blissfully youthful dream by the bitter slap of reality, it didn’t take much genius to figure out that life isn’t all money trees and dreamland jobs. And perhaps no one knows this lesson better than the prominent group of the Chicago chef elite. More »

10.28.08

Beyond Ramen: Where to Eat Well (for cheap) on a Downtown Campus

Bites: News and Miscellany


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With the news of the recent Cup of Noodles recall, we sent our man from Robert Morris college, Matt Kirouac, to find some affordable alternatives for the loop college crowd.

The Cubano at Cafecito

Being a college student is a lot like being a carpetbagger. The look is there- tired, scruffy clothes worn well past their expiration date and in dire need of a wash. The exhausted desperation- ambling from one room to another, haphazardly trying to find one’s place in life. And the diet, unfortunately, also shares a hopeless similarity- scrounging through the cabinets and pinching pennies so as to reap a vacation to the vending machine. More »

10.20.08

Consider the Oyster

Bites: News and Miscellany


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kung pao chicken

The Kung Pao chicken at Spring World

Much to my chagrin, the idea of the starving artist is not a mythology. I wish it were, but while there may be no better time in human history to be a writer, at least in terms of outlets for expression, it’s also one of the worst times to try to make a living at the form.

Unfortunately, another myth of artistry rings true, and that’s that I don’t have much choice in the matter. More than a couple of days without indulging in the act of writing may be like a day without heroin for a dependant junkie. When so many days pass without an act of creativity, I panic, a sense of worthlessness descends and the bile rises. More »

10.16.08

First Bite:Steve’s Deli

Bites: News and Miscellany


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From our West Loop Bureau, a report on Steve’s Deli (354 W. Hubbard) from our man Dave Lewis, who is more real Detroit than Eminem, Kid Rock, Bob Seger, The MC5, and the White Stripes all put together (and most importantly a native Detroit deli denizen).

It is with the giddy smile of a little school girl that I happily report to you that a “Detroit Style” deli has finally made it’s way west of Orchard Lake Road… and landed here, in the land of pizza and wind.

Yes, Steve’s Deli is open. Finally. More »

10.13.08

Chef Phillip Foss Carves up the Critics

Bites: News and Miscellany


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Note: a few days after we wrote this, Foss erased Heather Shouse’s name from the blog post discussed below. He says he did so “begrudgingly”.

Chef Phillip Foss of Lockwood takes issue with food critics on his blog. The piece really seems mostly like a thinly veiled attack on Heather Shouse of Time Out for her negative review of the place. Why doesn’t Foss also talk about Anne Spiselman of the Chicago Reader? Her review was middle-of-the-road at best.

I do applaud Foss for responding, as I feel like lots of chefs fear retribution and never respond to critics, or if they do, they take shots at bloggers and leave the big critics alone, because that’s where all the perceived media power seems to lie. Still, I don’t agree with Foss on his piece overall. More »

10.13.08

Link Buffet

Bites: News and Miscellany


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Take Me Out Chinese recovers from their recent fire and re-opens on Saturday, October 18th. They’ll be handing out their free signature hot wings. Owner Karen Lim also says that she’s decided to go away from the Buffalo wing style in favor of the Great Seas Chinese restaurant (owned by her folks) “lollipop” style from here on out. She says, “I hate to admit it…but parents are always right!”

I’m probably the last person in the world to link to this, but Mike Gebert’s Sky Full of Bacon video podcast featuring some pig head goodness shouldn’t be missed. It’s totally safe for work, unless you work at the Chicago Diner.

Ming Tsai cooks with Rick Bayless on Simply Ming this weekend, October 18th at 1 p.m. on WTTW. Tune in.

Ferran Adria might not do very well on Top Chef [New York Times]


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