I haven’t been to the Bite of Seattle at the Seattle Center for awhile, but I decided to go the food festival this year hoping to find some inspiring new dishes and flavors.
I met my friends Mike and Aileen by the Seattle Center Armory, and I asked if we could go in and check out the recently opened Skillet Counter before taking on the Bite. Mike had never heard of Skillet so I suggested that we share one of their signature dishes–poutine.
After enjoying the cheesy, gravy goodness of Skillet’s poutine and consulting the Bite of Seattle program to see what we were going to eat next, we headed toward the exit to go back to the Bite. I saw a woman who looked vaguely familiar, and then I nudged Aileen and whispered excitedly, “There’s Gail Simmons from ‘Top Chef!’”
I scanned the group of people that were with Gail, and I spotted Padma Lakshmi as well.
Ever since I had heard that the Bravo cooking competition show was filming its next season in Seattle, I’ve been on the lookout for production crews, cheftestants, and the “Top Chef” judges. Aileen, who is also a fan of the show, told me that the show was rumored to be filming at the Bite that day, but I didn’t expect to actually see two “Top Chef” judges standing just a few feet away from me.
The “Top Chef” posse was on the move, and I was determined to find out where they were going next. Aileen, Mike and I followed them out of the Armory, and they appeared to be leaving Seattle Center. I tried to discreetly take some photos with my smartphone, but it was hard to get any good shots.
Finally Gail, Padma and company made their way to a side street flanking Seattle Center, apparently waiting to get picked up. I managed to take one photo of Padma, and then as I raised my phone to get a shot of Gail, she looked at me and said firmly but nicely, “Please don’t take photos.” My friends and I complied, but we were disappointed. What were we going to do now? We decided to hang out and see if anything interesting was going to happen.
And then Padma and her Bravo handler came over and started talking to us! Padma asked Mike, Aileen and me if we were Filipino. When we said yes, she asked us where is the best place in Seattle to go eat Filipino food. We all laughed, and I said, “Somebody’s house!” Padma replied that she said the same thing about Indian food–home cooking is always the best.
As for Filipino restaurants, we recommended Oriental Mart Kitchen in Pike Place Market and Inay’s on Beacon Hill. I told Padma that Inay’s has a drag show during dinner on Fridays, and she seemed delighted by that.
Padma was swathed in a big wrap, and I felt bad for her having to experience cold, rainy Seattle summer. She was really lovely and chatted with us until her car came to whisk her away.
I hope the Bite of Seattle “Top Chef” challenge is something interesting and fun. Here are 5 other Pacific Northwest challenges that I would like to see on the show:
- Make a dish from shellfish that chefs dig up themselves.
- Use traditional Native American foods from the Puget Sound.
- Forage for ingredients (perfect opportunity to highlight the Beacon Food Forest and to have Langdon Cook as a judge)
- Cook with spirits from a Seattle distillery.
- Make a savory dish to go with a Top Pot doughnut.
What are you hoping to see on “Top Chef: Seattle”?