Trash on the Tasting Menu; $2K Dish of Pasta; Deceptive Calorie Counts + More

The only way I could afford to order a $2,000 plate of pasta is if it came with a side of $1,970.

Food and dining news from around the web and the world…

* One man’s trash is another man’s tasting menu. Ingredients that would have wound up on the compost heap are being heaped onto diners’ plates. [Washington Post]

* A pasta dish that’s seriously rich. And at $2,000 a plate, it ought to be. [NYPost]

* Counting calories? You may not want to count on the posted counts at restaurants. [ABC News]

* Food allergies are nothing to sneeze at. Find out how to dine out without falling ill. []

* Iron man. Salt Lake City chef Viet Pham of Forage defeated Bobby Flay on Iron Chef. []

* Worst. Tip. Ever. A disgruntled taxpayer passes the buck to a server. [Gawker]


Wednesday Spotlight Offers: Save Two Ways at Vermilion in Chicago; Plus, New Discounts on Dining in Atlanta, Denver, and Minneapolis

If you don't live in Chicago, you'll wish you did, thanks to two amazing offers from Vermilion!

We’ve got another terrific round of Spotlight offers on OpenTable today. Also, our deals are now live for 48 hours, giving you more time to save at these great restaurants.

* Atlanta: Sink your teeth into this! $20 for $40 of sublime steakhouse far at JW’s Steakhouse in Duluth. Buy now.

* Chicago: The headline is true! There are two ways to save at Iron Chef and Top Chef contender Manheet Chauhan’s Vermilion. $30 for $60 OR $60 for a five-course, 10-element tasting menu (valued at $120!). Buy now.

* Denver: Date night just got a lot more affordable with this three-course meal for two, complete with a MezzoLitre of wine, at Uniscali in Castle Rock for just $50. Buy now.

* Minneapolis: Nothing beats fine Italian fare — except when it’s fine Italian fare for less. $30 for $50 at PARMA 8200 in Bloomington. Buy now.

“Iron Chef” Jose Garces on Inheriting His Love of Cooking from His Mother

Photo: Courtesy of Garces Restaurant Group
Photo: Courtesy of Garces Restaurant Group

Jose Garces wasn’t born an “Iron Chef” but this top competitor, James Beard award-winning chef, and master of Latin cuisine’s culinary ambitions took shape from an early age. An American chef born to Ecuadorian parents and raised in Chicago, Chef Garces began his culinary training in the kitchen of his paternal grandmother and mother.

The winner of “The Next Iron Chef,” Chef Garces, whose Philadelphia restaurants include Amada, Distrito, and Tinto, notes, “My introduction to food came in our family kitchen, growing up in Chicago. My mother was always an amazing cook, and she loved to involve us in preparing meals. That was doubly true when her mother-in-law, my Mamita Amada, for whom my first restaurant is named, came to visit from Ecuador. She would stay for a week or longer, and it seemed as if she never left the kitchen.” He continues, “I was always drawn to the warmth of working beside the two of them to create hearty meals for our family, and that love of cooking is what eventually led me to culinary school and my career.”

Garces, who is now appearing on the 2010 season of “Iron Chef America,” says, “Even today, many of the dishes that we serve at my restaurants are inspired by their recipes. My mother was something of a wizard with empanadas, and I’ve re-imagined them on the menus of many of my restaurants, including a signature ‘Amada’s Empanada at Amada that has been a top-selling menu item since we opened in October 2005. It’s a plantain pastry stuffed with manchego cheese and spinach, served sliced open over an artichoke escabeche.  I also serve a jumbo lump crab-stuffed version at Chifa, with sweet chile reduction and shaved cucumber.”

“I’ve been privileged to work with some of the finest chefs in America and Spain,” says Chef Garces, “but my passion for cooking comes from my early memories…. Even when I was a child, I was drawn to the joy of cooking a great meal. I have always loved the way that food can transform a person’s whole outlook and really make their day.”