Authentic Cuisine; Top Chef Just Desserts Season 2 Cast; Nordic Food Is Cool; In-Pool Dining and Brunch Are Hot; You Can Leave Your Hat on (Sometimes)

Farmer Ted didn't have $5,000. Or a table at Restaurant Wars. But, he still got the girl and, I assume, straight teeth.

* Do you have five grand? I don’t have five grand! Neither did Farmer Ted in Sixteen Candles. Or anyone else, apparently. The table being auctioned off for charity for Top Chef Restaurant Wars didn’t receive a single bid. [Eater]

* There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception. And, in between the doors of perception, are the doors of restaurants. [The Atlantic]

* Ain’t nothing like the real thing, baby. But, what exactly is the real thing, when it comes to authentic food? [DCentric]

* Stereotypes are bad. Please don’t invoke them when reviewing restaurants. Or any other time. Thank you. [Accidental Hedonist]

* IKEA had it right all along. People like Nordic food. Quick question…are hot dogs Nordic? ‘Cause IKEA serves pretty yummy hot dogs and they’re only, like, a DOLLAR! [WSJ]

* It’s getting hot in herre. But, please, no matter what Nelly says, don’t take off your all clothes. Instead, head to one of the world’s hottest spots for al fresco dining. [BlackBook]

* Speaking of things that are hot. Brunch is. [ChicagoMag]

* Foodies, get your feet wet. Literally, with in-pool, luxury dining. [Glam.com]

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Chef Watch: Michael Voltaggio Cooks and Tells; New York Post Has a Beef with Alain Ducasse; Norman Van Aken Opens His Recipe Book; The World’s Most Influential Chef; Charlie Trotter’s New Hire, and More

Chefs making food and headlines…

•    Michael Voltaggaio, winner of season 6 of “Top Chef” shows football fans how to have a very molecular gastronomic Super Bowl party. Does that mean deconstructed nachos? [Los Angeles Times]

•    Speaking of Chef Voltaggio, who is chef de cuisine at The Dining Room at The Langham, he answers questions about his post-TC life. [Orange County Register]

•    Jose Garces, whose Philadelphia restaurant empire includes Amada, Chifa, Distrito, and Tinto, reveals what’s inspiring him lately. [The Daily Beast]

•    Charlie Trotter hires visually impaired chef Laura Martinez to join his kitchen at Charlie Trotter’s. [Grub Street Chicago]

•    If Chicago’s Graham Elliot Bowles’s food at Graham Elliot were an album, it would be Feed the Animals by Girl Talk. At least this week, anyway. [Time Out Chicago]

•    Meet the U.K’s own Fergus Henderson of St. John restaurant in London. He’s also the world’s most influential chef. No, really. [Men’s Health]

•    Chef Norman Van Aken shares some of his signature recipes from Norman’s at the Ritz-Carlton in Orlando, but it’s probably just easier to go ahead and let him make them for us at his eponymous restaurant. [The Daily Beast]

•    Thomas Keller (Ad Hoc, Bouchon, Bouchon – Beverly Hills, The French Laundry, Per Se) loses his right-hand man. As long as it’s not his right hand. [San Francisco Chronicle]

•    Restaurant critic Steve Cuozzo of the New York Post has a bone to pick with Alain Ducasse (Adour Alain Ducasse at The St. Regis New York, Benoit New York) over his recent comments about the New York restaurant scene. Call me a coward, but it’s probably not all that wise to start a beef with anyone who wields knives for a living. [New York Post]

Washington, D.C. Restaurant Week Starts Monday

DC-Restaurant-Week-Winter-2010Washington, D.C. Winter Restaurant Week begins Monday, January 11, 2010, and runs until the 17th. Presented by Destination DC and the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington, diners can take advantage of $20.10 three-course lunches and $35.10 for three-course dinners.

In its 16th year, participating restaurants include Alain Ducasse’s Adour at the St. Regis, The Palm, Sam & Harry’s, VOLT (owned by “Top Chef” contestant Bryan Voltaggio), Zaytinya, and many, many more.

This and other restaurant weeks are terrific opportunities to try out new restaurants and revisit old favorites. Tables fill up fast, so book your free reservations today for this year’s Washington, D.C. Winter Restaurant Week today!

Last Supper: What’s Your Ideal Final Meal?

When world-renowned chef Thomas Keller (Ad Hoc, Bouchon, The French Laundry, Per Se) lost his beloved father in 2008, he was able to find a bit of comfort in the fact that he’d prepared, carefully and lovingly, his father’s final meal. Keller didn’t know it at the time, but the simple dish of barbecued chicken, mashed potatoes, and collard greens — followed by a seasonal strawberry shortcake — would be his dad’s last.

While Chef Keller doesn’t reveal what his last meal might be in this article, he did so in the entertaining and appetite-inspiring My Last Meal, along with other famous chefs, including Dan Barber, Mario Batali, Rick Bayless, Wylie Dufresne, and Daniel Boulud (who wants his last meal prepared by Alain Ducasse).

Last-supperMy last meal would probably be cobbled together from a number of different restaurants. I might start with an ice-cold vodka Martini with Michael Mina‘s truffled popcorn. Next, the oyster foie gras from Morimoto. Also, crispy poached eggs with caviar from Perry Street. It would take me a bit more time to narrow down my entree selection as it’s so hard to pick just one protein, but I would certainly want whatever it is with a side of craftsteak‘s highly addictive Parker House rolls (I crave them fortnightly). Dessert is easy: anything from pastry chef Dominique Ansel at Daniel.

Which chef or restaurant would you want to prepare your last meal (many, many years from now, naturally!) and why? Share your thoughts on Facebook or right here!