Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Top Chef Masters, Round 2 (and a roundabout-very-late restaurant review)

So the cast of the upcoming season of Top Chef Masters has been revealed, and there are some fun and exciting chefs to watch. I know I wasn't a big fan last season--it was all too respectful and professional, I believe I said. Alas, I can't help but be excited to give the show another shot; I'm a sucker like that. Good food, good chefs... maybe a couple hotheads in the bunch, I'm sure!

The new season starts April 7 on Bravo! Plenty of time for the excitement to build between now and then...

Competing chefs for this season, and their restaurant (or, at least, their flagship):
Jody Adams -- Rialto Restaurant, Cambridge, Mass.
Govind Armstrong -- 8 oz. Burger Bar, Los Angeles
Graham Elliot Bowles -- Graham Elliot Restaurant, Chicago
Jimmy Bradley -- The Red Cat, New York, N.Y.
David Burke -- David Burke Townhouse, New York, N.Y.
Wylie Dufresne -- wd~50, New York, N.Y.
Susan Feniger - Street, Los Angeles
Debbie Gold -- The American Restaurant, Kansas City, Mo.
Carmen Gonzalez -- Chef Consultant, New York, N.Y.
Maria Hines - Tilth, Seattle
Susur Lee -- Madeline's, Toronto
Ludo Lefebvre -- Ludo Bites, Los Angeles
Tony Mantuano -- Spiaggia, Chicago
Rick Moonen -- Rick Moonen's RM Seafood at Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas
Mark Peel -- Campanile, Los Angeles
Monica Pope -- t'afia, Houston
Thierry Rautureau -- Rover's, Seattle
Marcus Samuelsson -- The Red Rooster, New York, N.Y. (This is odd. Marcus is usually listed as the chef of Aquavit... and The Red Rooster has no web site that I can find... mystery.)
Ana Sortun -- Oleana, Cambridge, Mass.
Rick Tramonto -- TRU, Chicago
Jerry Traunfeld -- Poppy, Seattle
Jonathan Waxman -- Barbuto, New York, N.Y.

Looking at all the different web sites for the restaurants just now was amazing--there is such talent out there, such diversity, it will make for a great season, I'm sure. They seem to be going with a broader chef base this time, fewer of the recognized "grand master" names like Chiarello and Puck and Bayless. There are a few bring-backs from last season--Ludo Lefebvre... Mark Peel... Wylie Dufresne--and I'm not sure the purpose of that. But I'm most excited to see how Marina Hines of Tilth of Seattle, does. I had the sublime pleasure of eating there late last summer with a good friend after getting together and trying on wedding dresses for her upcoming nuptials this summer. Well, she tried on dresses and I watched and gave thumbs up and down and inbetween...

Tilth fed us an amazing meal--one of those experiences where each bite is better than the one before, the portions are exactly the right size so you leave full but not stuffed and even have room for dessert. Truly a quintessential summer dining experience. One I am craving right about now when the freshest thing in the grocery store is... apples from cold storage? Can't really think of anything that is getting delivered right now that's not be trucked a gobzillion miles, or coming from cold storage...

But let's not dwell on that. Summer is coming again, eventually. And even though it's months later, here are a few pictures from the evening at Tilth. Forgive the iPhone shots, it's what I had on hand...

This amazing little appetizer had goat cheese on a cracker, with a sliced fresh fig on top. Wonderful.

Dear friend and bride-to-be Kate. 

Mid bite. A common look for me...

Ricotta gnocci. Light as a feather.

 Corn flan in corn soup. Amazing.

Another amazing soup, cucumber I believe...

Now it's really gotten dark in the restaurant; the candle has to come o-so-near. This is a dish of heavenly little squash--zucchinis and patty pan squashes, steamed just so with a nutty pesto on top. Summer eating at its best! I swear we ate dessert too, but I must have been in a slight food coma and forgot to take pictures. (That or it just got too dark.) If you're ever in Seattle in the Wallingford area, check out Tilth. A quiet, unassuming little house with a patio out front, very cozy seating inside, and wonderful service throughout the evening.

I know these pictures don't do the meal or the evening justice. It's a reminder that I should post immediately after the experience, since the summer menu is long gone (the food had much better names than I was able to tag above)... but this meal is in my memory forever. Thanks for a lovely evening, Kate! Let's do it again, soon!


  1. that is my goal...just enough to feel full but not stuffed...maybe just enough to feel delighted with what I just ate and not regretful for those extra bites I didn't need!!! food is a marvelous thing...
    very inspirational again dear girl!

  2. have you been to any of the other restaurants on the list?

    have you seen the book out by National Geographic about journeys in search of food? don't remember the exact title but it matches another one they did on journeys...fun to look at.


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