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This week, Top Chef DC approached Washington less like tourists and more like honeymooners.  Sure, they knew the sights were out there, but they were perfectly content to spend the day in the hotel.

Poor Season 7 cheftestants.  When Top Chef did a hotel dining challenge in Season 1, the chefs served professional poker players and the cast of Cirque du Soleil.  When they did a hotel dining challenge last season (in Las Vegas, where the hotels pretty much ARE the attractions), they served breakfast in bed to Padma and Nigella Lawson.

This time?  Breakfast lunch and dinner to DC area Top Chef alums and the chef/owner of the country’s first certified organic restaurant.

So that means we’re all about the personalities this week as we dig into the who’s, what’s and where’s of Top Chef DC.  After the jump, find out what Mike Isabella, Spike Mendelsohn and Bryan Voltaggio have been up to since their appearances on Top Chef, meet celebrated chef Nora Pouillon and check out a local company that’s doing baby food even Padma and Tom would like. (more…)

<<EDIT #2 4:39 PM 7/8/10 –As reported elsewhere (including Tim Carman’s Young & Hungry post), the opening has been pushed back a week and is now slated for Monday, July 19th.  Stay hungry!>>

<<EDIT 11:29 AM 7/7/10 – Official word from We the Pizza is that they’re planning for a Monday opening. They’ve been working ’round the clock to finish everything up and, in Mike Colletti’s words, “Everything’s great…but I’m tired!”>>

Brace yourselves.

Better yet, Capitol Hill, break out your fat pants.

In just a few days, Spike Mendelsohn (along with his family and friends) will be opening We, the Pizza in the space that used to be Zack’s Taverna.  Consider it the polar opposite to the new SweetGreen – the menu consists of pizzas, wings, sandwiches and gelati all washed down with ice-cold beers and hand-flavored Italian fountain sodas.

The opening party is tonight, and they’ll be turning out pies to the public as early as Friday.

Can’t wait that long?  Check out the menu on their already-live website.

Better yet, check out the following photos to get a feel for the place.  We were lucky enough to get in for a first look yesterday, and it’s clear that Spike, Mike Colletti and Brian Lacayo are ready to have some fun with their new concept.

More photos after the jump. (more…)

At 9PM tonight, the wait is over.  All that speculating about the challenges; all the sightings of Tom, Padma and Gail; all the shopping, chopping and cooking were completed more than a month ago.   Now it’s time to sit back and “watch what happens.”

Yesterday, we presented our interview with DC native and current Baltimore chef Timothy Dean.  Today, we’ve got our conversation with the only Cheftestant from this season who didn’t leave town when the cameras stopped rolling: the Oval Room’s Tamesha Warren.

Image courtesy of Bravo

Warren is a sous chef at the celebrated downtown power spot and previously cooked in the kitchen of Jean-Georges so you know her technique is SOLID.  As the youngest contestant in the field and the hometown favorite, she’s got a lot of pressure on her to do well.  Fortunately, it sounds like she’s up to the challenge:

Capital Spice: Good morning, chef.  How have you been since taping ended?
Tamesha Warren: It’s been crazy already.  The producers warned us to be ready, but I really didn’t expect it to blow up the way it has.  Just the other night there was a party in the restaurant asking for “the lady who’s going to be on Top Chef!”

CS: You’re the sous chef at the Oval Room, one of Ashok Bajaj’s restaurants.  How did he react to you going on the show?
TW: Bajaj is a great person to work for – anything he can do for you, he will.  He was very supportive of my participation.

Age as an asset or liability, DC dining favorites and how YOU may have helped Tamesha prepare after the jump. (more…)


AP Photo by Charles Dharapak, from

Presidential date night! The Obamas dined at Citronelle in Georgetown last Saturday.  Then Tuesday, Obama and Biden stopped by Rays Hell Burger for lunch.   Chompasaurus has a video of the big event.  Yesterday, DC365 and a crowd of super-psyched onlookers saw the First Lady and her staff pay a visit to Good Stuff Eatery, tasting a sampling of burgers including the “Prez Obama” (bacon, blue cheese, horseradish mayo and onion marmelade).  If this is their new plan for stimulating the local economy, we’re all for it! 
We already gave you an update on DC’s TV chefs. Now check in on four former Top Chef contestants based in New York: Leah, Harold, Hung and Nikki. 
Check out this dream job in California wine country.    
Metrocurean reports that Freshii, a salad chain from Canada, is on its way to DC
DC was completely shut out of the James Beard Awards this year.  Tim Carman over at Young & Hungry points out that the judging panel of the Beard Awards are made up of food writers and editors, past winners and restaurant owners, which builds a population slanting very favorably to New York residents and perhaps creates a self-fulfilling prophecy of New York dominating the awards since, hey, these are the restaurants the judges know best. The inherent risk here, other than irritating all non-New York observers, is that the Beard Awards could quickly smug themselves into national irrelevance.
Side note: We were pleased to see Douglas Kean of Cyrus in Healdsburg, CA win for best regional chef. We scored a table on Valentine’s Day weekend and the tasting menu took our breath away. 
The WSJ reports that some healthier food options like chicken or yogurt may not be as healthy as consumers believe they are.   
Mmmm… homemade rhubarb poptarts, courtesy of Arugula Files

Cookbook author and actor Dom DeLuise died this week at age 75. 

McDuff Wine, a Philly blogger, shares his photo journal of foraging for wild ramp.  
Get a peek at Tom Colicchio’s apartment in this Q&A.  
The Albemarle Fizz, a bright, citrusy drink from Brightest Young Things, looks like the world’s most perfect Sunday afternoon cocktail.  
Oprah gave a plug to KFC’s free grilled chicken promotion, overwhelming both stores and the website with the resulting stampede of soccer moms. 
Who doesn’t love breakfast al fresco? PQ Living has the scoop on an outdoor café for bagelry Brueggers on E St NW. 
Sales are strong for weak beers.  
Quote of the week: “Never lower yourself to your customers’ tastes.” – Mark Furstenburg, founder of Marvelous Market and Breadline.  Okay it’s a little out of context but for realsies, that was advice he shared with another baker. Check out Y&H for the full story.
NPR shares some trout recipes.

Exciting news about a White House vegetable garden!

Frozen Tropics posts Napa 1015’s March menu.

Nino’s in New York is offering free dinner to Madoff victims.  
Love pulled pork but don’t have a grill or smoker? DC Foodies writer Stephanie tries it on her slow cooker
Trying to adjust its brand to the recession, Starbucks goes for a more “coffeehouse vibe” and removes pricing from the board in an effort to appear more affordable.  Who the F came up with that idea? 
So Good kicks off Meat Madness
Discover your cooking personality.

The Peacock Café is offering a March Madness happy hour special. I wonder if this is for people who want to watch the game at a bar or for people who don’t care about March Madness to escape the constant drone of college basketball?
Share your food rules with author Michael Pollan. 
Metrocurean has a great list of restaurants who serve up a family-style Sunday supper
A new book reminisces on the days of truly regional American food.  
PQ Living gives us the heads up on the new restaurant in the metro center Marriott.  
Jell-O is promoting antioxidants in a new ad campaign featuring Dancing With the Stars winner Brooke Burke.  
Good Stuff Eatery’s Spike is offering amped up matzah recipes at the Sixth and I Synagogue in time for Passover. You can win tickets at Brightest Young Things.

Is there a whoopie pie coming your way?  
Two Quail, an upscale frenchy-french restaurant on Capitol Hill has closed.   
French Laundry chef Thomas Keller shares his experience with roast chicken
Read Meat DC reviews Localat. Check out those waffles.  
We are coming up on artichoke season. Have any favorite recipes? 
According to Young & Hungry, H Street Country Club is delaying its much-anticipated opening due to DC city snafus. 
A new culinary trend report highlights Latin American flavors about to hit our radar.

Dunkin Donuts launches a create-a-donut contest
Food tips for celebrating the Persian new year.  
Where does Obama eat when in Hawaii? Find out here
Tips from a pro on building buzz for a new restaurant.  
Campbell’s soup launches a promotion to help Future Farmers of America.

<<SPOILER ALERT:  This post contains information about the outcome of tonight’s episode of Top Chef, along with pictures and video of Carla Hall and Spike Mendelsohn from tonight’s watch party at Good Stuff Eatery.  Check them out after the jump!>>

super-bowl-tix     tcny_cast_photo (more…)


We just received this email from Top Chef Spike Mendelsohn and his family at Good Stuff Eatery.  In honor of Spike’s guest spot as one of the “Top Chef All-Stars” in tonight’s episode, Spike is inviting everyone to come out and join him at Good Stuff to watch the show.

carlaSpike (with an occasional assist from Andrew, the other half of the original Top Chef Bromance) has been offering up live commentary throughout the season via Twitter (@BravoTopChef).  Tonight you can bet he’ll be dishing not just about the current contestants, but also about his experience filming the episode and some other Top Chef related dirt he’s got in the works.  We’re counting on a lot of love in the room for local girl Carla Hall – here’s hoping she can rally from last week’s performance to place back in the top ranks this time around!

Since we were already planning to watch tonight’s episode (and take part in the weekly Top Chef Live Blog over at Endless Simmer), you can expect to find Capital Spice reporting live from Good Stuff Eatery tonight.  Come chat with us over at Endless Simmer or look for us on Twitter (@capitalspice) – we’ll be feeding you the choicest quotes from Spike and everyone else watching over burgers and shakes.