Tag Archives: Top Chef

Girl Power and Top Chef

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After tonight’s epic finale (part 1) of Top Chef, I had to break my 3-month radio silence and express my sheer joy that 2 fierce females are the finalists! Readers and Top Chef fans, correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe this is the first time in the show’s history that two women are the sole finalists. It’s a truly momentous occasion, showing just how far women have come in the culinary world.

And yes, I realize that a woman has already won Top Chef–Stephanie Izard, the insanely talented and bubbly chef from Chicago, now of Girl and the Goat fame. But somehow, I’m even more excited for the Brooke-Kristen battle, and truly admire both of these women. They not only outcooked the boys in the kitchen, but did so with grace and integrity. Neither of them had to be loud (unlike…ahem…JOSIE) or attention whores (ahem…STEPHAN), resort to cooking copious amounts of bacon (ahem…JOSH) or exude sultriness a la Padma (although I have to admit, I do kind of have a girl crush on Kristen). They both just cooked their asses off, stayed cool under pressure (except when Kristen “peed in her pants a little” as Tom barked for more tuna), and stayed true to who they are (which was ultimately poor Sheldon’s downfall).

This is not the first time that Top Chef has broken barriers and glass ceilings. Last season, Paul Qui, an adorably introverted and incredibly gifted chef from Austin, was the first Asian American to be crowned Top Chef. Here’s hoping that an Asian American woman–Kristen Kish (there, I said it!)–wins the title next.

Photo courtesy of BravoTv.com

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Shameless Plug #4

While some are wondering whether “Top Chef” is losing its edge, there is no doubt that some truly talented and motivated chefs have graced the show’s kitchens. Two of them–D.C. locals Carla Hall and Spike Mendelsohn–are putting their talent and cache toward a worthy cause: the battle against childhood obesity. Hall and Mendelsohn, along with 990 other chefs across the country, are joining First Lady Michelle Obama in her efforts to bring healthy food to the nation’s schools through her newest initiative, Chefs Move to Schools. Here’s an excerpt:

Life after “Top Chef” doesn’t always lead to fame or fortune (whatever happened to past winners Hung Huynh and Hosea Rosenberg?), but two former contestants are making a name for themselves on the school lunch front. Chefs Spike Mendelsohn and Carla Hall, finalists on “Top Chef” seasons four and five, are participating in Michelle Obama’s latest initiative to combat childhood obesity, Chefs Move to Schools.

The program pairs chefs with public schools across the nation in an effort to educate and excite students about food and nutrition. Chefs will work together with teachers, administrators and cafeteria workers to promote healthy eating through performing cooking demos, planting school gardens, and eventually revamping school cafeteria menus to include nutritionally balanced, cost-effective dishes. So far, 990 chefs and 448 schools across the country have signed on to participate.

Hundreds of chefs, including Hall, attended June’s inaugural Chefs Move to Schools event at the White House. “The event was nothing short of moving,” she said. “To see that many chef coats and toques in one place was quite special.” Michelle Obama told chefs they are in a unique position to change kids’ eating habits: “You’ll be elevating the role of food in our schools … You know more about food than almost anyone — other than the grandmas — and you’ve got the visibility and the enthusiasm to match that knowledge. That’s really what’s key.”

Read my full article over at Zester Daily. And many thanks to Carla and Spike for the interviews; it was a pleasure to meet you both!

Photo credit: Matthew Lyons/Micheline Mendelsohn

**In other news, tomorrow is The Unpaid Gourmet’s birthday! 🙂 I’ll be celebrating by, of course, eating. Reviews of the meals will follow next week!

**And for those of you looking for a way to beat the heat this weekend, head over to Pizzeria Paradiso for their IPA Festival! Click here for more details.

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Memorial Day Weekend Round-Up

Apologies for the absence of posts this week; it’s been hectic as of late.  But thank goodness for federal holidays! Though I’m looking forward to lounging around my apartment and barbecuing for a good portion of the weekend, I’m also planning to check out some of the many events scheduled. From an Argentine festival to a pig roast to a chili cook-off, there’s something that every foodie can enjoy–without dropping tons of cash.

Friday

Jazz in the Sculpture Garden: Normally, I don’t include Friday events, but this one is probably my favorite part of summer in DC. Jazz in the Sculpture Garden officially starts on Friday  from 5-8:30 p.m., across the street from the National Gallery. After a long week at work, DCers all convene at the sculpture garden to picnic with friends, sip sangria by the fountain, and lay on the grass amongst contemporary sculptures. And with jazz playing in the background and the sun setting, it makes for a truly delightful scene. Jazz in the Garden takes place every Friday evening till September, so be sure to check it out at some point. And even if it rains, concerts will still take place in the National Gallery atrium. Click here for more info.

Saturday

23rd Annual Argentine Festival: If you like tango and empanadas, then this is the festival for you. On Saturday from 4-10:30 p.m., head to Arlington for the 23rd Annual Argentine Festival, featuring performances from several Argentine artists, arts and crafts, tango lessons, and of course, plenty of Argentine food. Tickets cost $20 and can be purchased here.

Rockville’s Hometown Holidays: The Rockville Town Center will be the place to be for Montgomery County residents this Saturday and Sunday. This annual festival features live music, an arts and crafts fair,  a green festival presenting green products. Plus, several Rockville restaurants will be on hand offering tastes of their menus. Participating restaurants include La Tasca, Potomac Pizza, Giffords Ice Cream, Bombay Bistro, and more. Click here for more info.

Sunday

Durkl Block Party: I’ll admit, I was pretty jealous when I heard about Silver Lake Jubilee back home in Los Angeles–a huge street festival with live bands and tons of gourmet food trucks. Luckily, DC will host something similar this Sunday from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. The Durkl Block Party, located in a parking lot on 5th and I St. in Chinatown, sounds like it will be awesome. With free admission, open grills for visitors, Sweetflow and Sauca, and “a DJ lineup that reads like people you normally pay $10 or more to hear” (according to GOG), Durkl Block Party has all the elements for an memorable Memorial Day celebration. Click here for details.

Spiked Sundays at Capitol Skyline: If you’re a fan of Spike Mendelsohn of Top Chef fame, or his popular burger joint Good Stuff Eatery, don’t miss your chance to see him in action at Spike Sundays. Every Sunday till Labor Day from 10a.m.-6 p.m., Chef Spike will be at the Capitol Skyline hotel grilling and chilling by the pool. The $15 admission price will get you a burger with toppings and sides from Spike, drink specials, a live DJ, and all-day access to the pool. Click here for more info.

Charity Pig Roast: Head to Clarendon’s 3 Bar and Grill on Sunday at 4 p.m. for their charity pig roast, where a 250 lb. plus pig will be made into pulled pork. Pulled pork sandwiches will be $5, with all proceeds going to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Drink specials will also be available. Thanks to Metrocurean for the heads up.

Monday

Cafe Saint Ex and Bar Pilar 2nd Annual Chili Cookoff: From 12-4 p.m., gorge yourself on delicious chili from Cafe Saint Ex, Bar Pilar, and local contestants vying for the title of Best Chili. Face painting, wash-off tattoos, a lemonade stand, and drink specials await visitors. Make sure to bring cash, since it’s cash only! All proceeds will be donated to the Fillmore Art Center. Click here for details.

And with that, my friends, enjoy what is sure to be an epic weekend!

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