Category Archives: Food TV

Apply Now to be a Guest on Season 2 of “Check, Please! Northwest”

Last year I had the great pleasure of being a guest on the inaugural season of “Check, Please! Northwest,” a Seattle restaurant review show. It’s produced by KCTS 9, Seattle’s PBS Station.

The show brings three strangers together to talk about their favorite restaurants. Each person recommends a restaurant, everyone goes to the three places, and then they discuss the food and their experiences.

KCTS is starting production of season 2 of the show, with episodes to air in spring of 2014. If you like to eat out, and you’re not shy about being on television, then I strongly recommend that you apply to be a guest on “Check, Please! Northwest.”

The KCTS staff will give you the star treatment, you’ll get a cool behind-the-scenes look at how a television show is made, and host Amy Pennington will make you belly laugh. (She may also give you some invaluable gardening tips if you ask nicely.)

Bakeman’s was one of the restaurants that we reviewed on my show.

Here’s what we all thought.


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My food TV moment on Check, Please! Northwest

Check, Please! Northwest on KCTS 9

I’m one of those people who like to channel surf. While I’m flipping through channels, I’ll inevitably wind up watching something on PBS. I love that at any given moment, PBS will be showing something compelling and thought-provoking (“Run to the East”), shamelessly geeky (“History Detectives”) or just weirdly watchable (“Antiques Roadshow”).

In addition, KCTS 9, Seattle’s PBS station, produces great local programming. Last year it introduced a new show called “Check, Please! Northwest.”

The show brings three strangers together to talk about their favorite restaurants. Each person recommends a restaurant, everyone goes to the three places, and then they discuss the food and their experiences.

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Dig in to “Top Chef: Seattle” starting November 7

Top Chef: Seattle with Padma Lakshmi, Tom Colicchio, Gail Simmons and Hugh Acheson

While watching the trailer for the upcoming “Top Chef: Seattle,” I was delighted to see footage of chefs struggling to dig for shellfish on a rocky Washington beach. Yes! Back in July, this is one of the 5 Pacific Northwest-challenges I listed as wanting to watch on the show.

I’m super excited for “Top Chef: Seattle,” but every time I see the promo shot pictured above, I cringe. Besides the generic Seattle landscape background that looks like it was salvaged from a high school dance, there’s nothing about the photo that represents my fair city. Did the art director think that produce in wicker baskets would evoke the spirit of Pike Place Market? (It doesn’t.) And is Padma Lakshmi wearing an electric blue bed skirt? (Perhaps.) At least they could have made it green to represent the Emerald City. (No, that wouldn’t help. Barf.)

Season 10 of “Top Chef” premieres November 7 on Bravo. Will you be tuning in? And how would you caption the awful promo pic?

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I met Top Chef’s Padma Lakshmi at the Bite of Seattle!

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!'”

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Elegant and inventive Japanese food–deep in the heart of Texas

When I traveled to Austin, Texas for the South by Southwest Interactive conference, I definitely had a lot of barbecue, but I also was fortunate to eat at Uchiko, the Japanese restaurant where Top Chef Season 9 winner, Paul Qui, is executive chef.

The restaurant, of course, was completely booked weeks before I arrived in Austin. I thought maybe I could score a seat in the bar during happy hour if I got there early enough. My conference roommate, Dominique, was game to try. While she was on the Uchiko website getting directions to the restaurant, on a whim, Dominique checked online availability of reservations that night. She found a 5:30 pm slot was open and booked it immediately. Score!

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Party in my tummy on “Yo Gabba Gabba!”

I was having lunch with some friends when the kids television show, “Yo Gabba Gabba” came up in conversation. If you have small children or are a serious recreational drug user, you are probably familiar with it. But if you’re not, it’s a pretty hard thing to describe. This food-related video clip perfectly captures the bizarre educational dance party vibe of the show.

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Dim sum disgrace on Top Chef

I must admit that I felt a thrill of schadenfreude when I saw a preview of “Top Chef: All-Stars” showing the chefs cracking under the strain of a particularly difficult challenge–making dim sum at a restaurant in New York’s Chinatown.

In the end, however, I took little pleasure in watching how thoroughly the chefs failed at this task.

It was as if none of the chefs had ever heard of the concept of dim sum or Asian cuisine. They seemed outraged when they couldn’t find someone who spoke English at the Chinese market. Many of them looked completely baffled when they entered the kitchen of the Chinese restaurant and saw the steamer baskets and woks. They couldn’t make their food fast enough, and for the most part, the dishes they did prepare were bland and boring.

Dale and Angelo, who specialize in Asian food (Dale works at Buddakan!), provided zero help or leadership in the kitchen.

Nobody cared about the crowd of hungry people waiting for food. They just cared about cooking for the judges and winning the challenge.

I understand that Top Chef is a competition, but there is no excuse for souless cooking and not feeding people. That is a shame for any cook at any level–and a disgrace for a group of professionals vying for the title of “Top Chef.”

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Food Network and Travel Channel: The clone wars

Scripps Networks Interactive, the company that owns both the Food Network and Travel Channel, has taken unimaginative programming to new heights by running two sets of nearly identical shows on both channels.

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D.C. Cupcakes? I’d rather watch D.C. Cab.

After I wrote the previous post about the proliferation of cupcake shops in Washington, D.C., I saw a commercial on TV for a new show called “DC Cupcakes.” It’s a reality show all about sisters Sophie LaMontagne and Katherine Kallinis and their shop, Georgetown Cupcake.

After watching the first two episodes, I don’t think I’ll be back for more. Instead of building a show around compelling characters, the show’s producers try to make Sophie and Katherine interesting–when they really aren’t. As a result, everything–from the sisters’ cardboard narration to the “wacky” supporting cast including their mom and surly baker–seems very forced.

I’d rather watch 30 minutes of pure video footage of cupcakes, or the so-awful-it’s-fabulous movie, “D.C. Cab.” My favorite exchange in this intro is when Mr. T. the cab driver throws out a prostitute attempting to, ahem, service a client in the backseat of his cab. She insists, “I need the bread!” To which Mr. T. responds, “Then get a job at a bakery.”

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And then there were three

Top Chef contestant Jennifer Carroll

Since Jen didn't make it to the finale, who am I going to root for now?

The season 6 Top Chef finale is tonight, and I am really bummed that Jen isn’t in the running to win it all.

Jen wasn’t any of the female reality show archetypes: bitch, ditz or slut. She was a strong competitor but by no means perfect. In fact, I think I liked her because she showed vulenrability. Jen genuinely seemed herself on Top Chef, which is a hard feat to pull off when you’re on a reality show. I even got a little teary myself when she started crying during her exit interview. Hey, you gotta feel for a woman who drives a 2000 Chevy Cavalier.

So who is going to win it all: Kevin, Michael or Bryan? Even without Jen, it’s a strong group of chefs and any of them deserve the Top Chef title.

I wish the Voltaggio brothers had a chance to go head-to-head or maybe cook together as a team on the show. I wonder how that would go. I predict that the elder Bryan will best Michael and Kevin, but perhaps the brothers V will cancel each other out and Kevin will be victorious.

After tonight, I’ll be looking forward to Top Chef: Just Desserts. Bring on the pastry chefs!

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