Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Chefs behaving badly

Here's some pictures from the Capital Food Fight. I had a great time there with my pal Hilda. Not shown in these pictures: somehow, Hilda and I wore the exact same unusual color combination: dark teal, orangey red, and black. This strange twin effect would have been funny enough (though her dress was totally AWESOME), but the real hilarity came from José Andrés and Anthony Bourdain, ebulliently and obnoxiously narrating every second of the evening together. Here they are antagonizing Bryan during his battle with restaurateur Michael Mina.

Hilda and I hung out with Top Chef contestant Mike Isabella for a little bit. He was quite charming in person.

José Andrés invited everyone in the audience to try Volt, and exclaimed how wonderful it is. I thought this was very nice of him, especially since he seemed very genuine about it.

There was a little turf garden full of mini parfait shooters, which you could inject into your mouth. Hilda and I thought the concept was pretty cool.

I got to see some real characters tonight, in rare form, without the polish or patina of television editing.

At one point the Judges had their own cooking competition and it was a frenzied free-for all of good-natured competition. The audience judged this one with an applause-o-meter based on Anthony Bourdain's hysterical descriptions of the food, which were at once elevations AND put-downs. He has mastered this particular art form. Carla Hall did a little dance in order to get the audience excited about her team's dish, and it worked. Her team won. Anthony Bourdain got the sads when Eric Ripert told him his balsamic vinegar sauce was a little burnt.

We had some delicious food with a few standouts. I am planning to write a followup post about my favorite dish of the evening (other than the lime /corn nut/guacamole macaroon from Volt) from INOX Restaurant but I want to ask the chef a little more about what was in the dish. I also particularly enjoyed the faux gras gougères from Central by Michel Richard and the airy potato dish with caviar from café atlantico/minibar by José Andrés. There was also a lovely potato blini that I can't recall who made, and some salmon canapés in a crispy cone with some sort of cream sauce made by DC Central Kitchen that I particularly liked.

A lot of young ladies were excited to see Bryan. One such lady walked by me saying, "I'm about to have the best moment of my whole life!" and then called out "Bryan Voltaggio!" Of course I told everyone this and they cracked up.

Our friends Bryan and Graeme lost their challenge to Michael Mina and his sous chef but the judges said it was very close, and that Mina had done a little more to elevate his use of the secret ingredient: beef tenderloin. By the way these chefs only had 10 minutes to do their challenges, and they produced some amazing things in that timeframe. Bryan produced a beef carpaccio that looked delicious. José Andrés and Anthony Bourdain would steal pieces of it from Bryan as he was preparing it and would eat it. They even stole a piece to give to an audience member. They heckled Bryan mercilessly but it was all in good fun and for a great cause.

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