Top Chef Just Desserts Season 2 Episode 7: Doughnuts + Double Eliminations

The yeasty doughnuts Carlos made are pretty cool...

Episode 7 of Top Chef Just Desserts season 2 touched on at least one subject very near and dear to my heart — doughnuts! Le Bernardin‘s Executive Pastry Chef Michael Laiskonis is back to discuss doughy treats and chocolate showpieces!

I play in a band called Hot Doughnuts (founded many years before they became trendy), named because we thought that there are few people who do not like a hot doughnut. That said, I fear the trendiness of the simple and humble doughnut (see cakes, cup). Any thoughts on that?

Wow, a band? I never realized you were so multi-talented, Caroline! (Ed. note: Ha! Hardly!) Because fried dough is so ubiquitous — it seems every culture on the planet has some version of its own — it’s almost trend-proof. I guess the only risk factor would be the inevitable poor execution that comes with more folks jumping on that bandwagon. I have to say I am a fan of NYC’s Doughnut Plant; the tres leches creation is that good.

I’ll have to break down and try one of the DP’s doughnuts then. Also, our band is only slightly worse than Crucifictorious. So, create the perfect doughnut! That’s a tall order! My idea of it is a very simple, painfully plain doughnut. I love a classic plain for dunking (note: not ‘Dunkin’!) or a classic light and fluffy glazed. Oh, and an old-school jelly doughnut. What are some of your ideas around perfect doughnuts?

..but maybe not as cool as my band's logo?

Yeah, for the most part, I’m pretty old-school when it comes to doughnuts. Just as we tend to judge pizza on its crust, the fundamental aspect of the doughnut should be the dough itself. If I had one item that came close to Proust’s memory-inducing madeleine, it would be warm cinnamon doughnuts and apple cider, which takes me back to autumns of childhood, visiting the local cider mill in Michigan. And I’ve never really looked into the process that makes a classic Krispy Kreme  so good — maybe that they glaze while still warm — but I always say that one isn’t enough, but two is too many. In a good way!

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Top Chef D.C. Episode 10: Not-So-Brilliant Disguise

"I'm not sure that wd-420 would have been a better name, Padma."

My DVR didn’t need to work this week as I was watching live. No Memorex for me, baby. Future (C’mon, Bravo!) cheftestant Ed Hardy and I were IMing throughout. And, just like last week, we’re sharing our convo about everyone’s fave cooking contest.

Hey, Ed…first thoughts at beginning of this episode…is Alex going down? And, would you just do your best to not help him in the kitchen?

I absolutely think Alex will be going down. Everyone thinks only the food matters the most in a kitchen, but, in reality, relationships are important. No matter what your culinary ability you can always use a little help. Alex has obviously done nothing on-screen or off-screen to endear himself with his fellow cheftestants. I would have given him that can opener he was looking for, but only after freezing it in a block of ice first.

Is Angelo sincere? He’s all “Kenny was the biggest threat,” but he hated him. Are these crocodile tears — or good editing?

More than anything else, Kenny going home might have damaged Angelo’s bravado. Remember the old Angelo from Episode 1 when he wanted to be the first cheftestant to win every challenge? Where has he gone? When Kenny left he might have taken some of Angelo’s confidence with him, and so, in a way, he might miss him. A bit.

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James Beard Foundation Awards Nominees 2010: Congratulations!

The list of James Beard Foundation Awards nominees for 2010 has been released. Congratulations to everyone whose hard work and great talents have been recognized by the industry’s most prestigious organization. The winners will be announced on May 3, 2010, but there aren’t any losers in this round-up. Nominees include:

James-Beard-Awards-2010-nomineesBEST NEW RESTAURANT
* Bibou, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Chefs/Owners: Pierre and Charlotte Calmels

* Flour + Water, San Francisco, California
Chef/Partner: Thomas McNaughton
Partners: David White and David Steele

* Frances, San Francisco, California
Chef/Owner: Melissa Perello

* Marea, New York, New York
Chef/Partner: Michael White
Partner: Chris Cannon

* RN74, San Francisco, California
Chef: Jason Berthold
Owners: Michael Mina and Rajat Parr

OUTSTANDING CHEF AWARD
* José Andrés, The Bazaar by José Andrés and Zaytinya
* Tom Colicchio, Craft and Colicchio & Sons
* Charles Phan, The Slanted Door

OUTSTANDING PASTRY CHEF AWARD
* Amanda Cook, CityZen at Mandarin Oriental, Washington, D.C.
* Nicole Plue, Redd, Yountville, California

OUTSTANDING RESTAURANT AWARD
* Boulevard, San Francisco, California
Chef/Owner: Nancy Oakes
Owner: Pat Kuleto

* Daniel, New York, New York
Chef/Owner: Daniel Boulud
Owner: Joel Smilow

* Highlands Bar & Grill, Birmingham, Alabama
Chef/Owner: Frank Stitt
Owner: Pardis Stitt

* Spiaggia, Chicago, Illinois
Chef/Partner: Tony Mantuano

OUTSTANDING RESTAURATEUR AWARD
* Tom Douglas. Restaurants include Dahlia Lounge, Etta’s, and Lola.

* Pat Kuleto, Pat Kuleto Restaurant Development & Management Co., San Francisco, California. Restaurants include Boulevard, Epic, Martini House, Waterbar.

* Richard Melman, Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, Chicago, Illinois. Restaurants include Big Bowl, Hub 51, Osteria Via Stato, Tru, and Wildfire.

* Stephen Starr, Starr Restaurant Organization, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Restaurants include Alma De Cuba, Buddakan, Morimoto, and Parc.

OUTSTANDING SERVICE AWARD
* La Grenouille, New York, New York
Owners: Charles Masson and Gisèle Masson

* Michael Mina, San Francisco, California
Chef/Owner: Michael Mina

* Vetri, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Chefs/Owners: Marc Vetri and Jeff Benjamin

OUTSTANDING WINE AND SPIRITS PROFESSIONAL AWARD
* Paul Grieco, Hearth, New York, New York

OUTSTANDING WINE SERVICE AWARD
* A16, San Francisco, California
Wine Director: Shelley Lindgren

* Frasca Food and Wine, Boulder, Colorado
Wine Director: Bobby Stuckey

* Jean Georges, New York, New York
Wine Director: Bernard Sun

RISING STAR CHEF OF THE YEAR AWARD
* Timothy Hollingsworth, The French Laundry, Yountville, California
* Grégory Pugin, Veritas, New York, New York

BEST CHEFS IN AMERICA
Best Chef: Great Lakes
*Bruce Sherman, North Pond, Chicago, Illinois
* Alex Young, Zingerman’s Roadhouse, Ann Arbor, Michigan

Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic
* Cathal Armstrong, Restaurant Eve, Alexandria, Virginia
* Jeff Michaud, Osteria, Philadelphia, Pennsyvlania
* Michael Solomonov, Zahav, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
* Bryan Voltaggio, VOLT, Frederick, Maryland

Best Chef: Midwest
* Colby Garrelts, Bluestem, Kansas City, Missouri
* Alexander Roberts, Restaurant Alma, Minneapolis, Minnesota
* Lenny Russo, Heartland, St. Paul, Minnesota

Best Chef: New York City
* Michael Anthony, Gramercy Tavern
* Wylie Dufresne, wd-50
* Daniel Humm, Eleven Madison Park
* Michael White, Marea

Best Chef: Northeast
* Michael Leviton, Lumière, West Newton, Massachusetts
* Tony Maws, Craigie on Main, Cambridge, Massachusetts
* Marc Orfaly, Pigalle, Boston, Massachusetts

Best Chef: Northwest
* Ethan Stowell, Union, Seattle, Washington
* Jason Wilson, Crush, Seattle, Washington

Best Chef: Pacific
* Michael Cimarusti, Providence, Los Angeles, California
* Jeremy Fox, Ubuntu, Napa, California
* David Kinch, Manresa, Los Gatos, California
* Matt Molina, Osteria Mozza, Los Angeles, California
* Michael Tusk, Quince, San Francisco, California

Best Chef: South
* Zach Bell, Café Boulud at the Brazilian Court, Palm Beach, Florida
* Scott Boswell, Stella!, New Orleans, Louisiana
* John Harris, Lilette, New Orleans, Louisiana
* Michael Schwartz, Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink, Miami, Florida

Best Chef: Southeast
* Sean Brock, McCrady’s, Charleston, South Carolina
* Linton Hopkins, Restaurant Eugene, Atlanta, Georgia

Best Chef: Southwest
* Bryan Caswell, Reef, Houston, Texas
* Ryan Hardy, Montagna at The Little Nell, Aspen, Colorado
* Rick Moonen, RM Seafood at Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada

Read more about the James Beard Foundation and the 2010 Awards, click here. Purchase tickets here. And, reserve your seat at the next James Beard House dinner in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village for a unique dining experience in the birthplace of modern American gastronomy.

Molecular Gastronomy Goes Mainstream in Manhattan

Stock PhotoWylie Dufresne has been playing with his food à la Dr. Frankenstein for years, and while not all restaurants embrace his methods, many elements of his brand of molecular gastronomy have seeped into mainstream dining in the Big Apple. The New York Post reports on Dufresne, chef-owner of wd-50, Dave Arnold, resident mad scientist at the French Culinary Institute and its restaurant L’Ecole (who regularly  blogs about his “experiments” at the FCI), Michael Laiskonis, pastry chef at Le Bernardin, and George Mendes, chef-owner at Aldea, on their use of “meat glue” and other ingredients more likely found in a laboratory than your kitchen cupboard.

Are you a fan of molecular gastronomy’s transformative powers? Or do you prefer more traditional ingredients and techniques?