Went to a Top Chef Masters viewing party tonight, hosted by Tony Mantuano, a contestant and the chef behind one of Chicago's biggest names- Spiaggia. The evening's ticket price? A $20 donation to Share Our Strength. So essentially come watch a local star on TV with him giving the play-by-play, snack on tricked out popcorns and tea cakes, have a glass or two of Prosecco AND give to a great cause.
Truthfully, I've always known Spiaggia was good but it's such an institution that I admit to personally finding it a little intimidating. As of tonight though, it's high on my list of places to try. Chef was playful, honest and a little brash...if that's a reflection on the main menu, I'm in.
On to the soundbites. Mantuano took questions while the team sorted out some early technical difficulties and then during commercials. Formspring for chefs is a big win in my book. I've included a few favorites below:
- Ingredient he most wished he had? A sous chef.
- Best restaurant in Chicago other than his own? Raved about the twice-cooked pork at Lao Sze Chuan. (feel like this is a cop-out answer to avoid offending but color me curious nonetheless)
- Favorite team member ? Susur Lee is terrifying(ly good).
- After hours life on-set? Jonathan Waxman is an incredible person to be in LA with. Every night, those of us who could still walk (those are really long days) took in some of the best restaurants in Los Angeles. Waxman can walk in anywhere and get a table for 6. He was and remains a pioneer of American cuisine.