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The 9 Most Memorable Crimes That Happened at Fast Food Restaurants

The 9 Most Memorable Crimes That Happened at Fast Food Restaurants


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Note to all fast food employees: Be alert

Vytautas Kielaitis / Shutterstock

The desire for McDonald’s has pushed more than one man off the straight and narrow path

Perhaps it’s the crowds of customers or the seemingly plentiful walk-in refrigerators that make fast food restaurants such a common environment for criminal activity.

Or perhaps the more likely draw is the cash register — or row of cash registers — that offers untold riches, if a would-be criminal could get it open. In any case, fast food restaurants share a rich history of crimes, both petty and severe.

We’ve rounded up a few of the most memorable fast food crime stories, from the Chili’s waiter whose DNA proved that he spit in a customer’s drink, confirming the possibility of one of our collective worst public dining fears, to the man who found himself in police custody over a nacho cheese dispute.

Jamie Lynn Spears’ Pita Pit of Justice

Britney Spears’ baby sister Jamie Lynn made headlines when, during a visit to Pita Pit in Hammond, Lousiana, she was forced to interrupt a fight in defense of her friend who was reportedly “clocked with a bottle.” Spears dragged her friend behind the sandwich counter to safety and then waved a serrated knife in the air, effectively breaking up the fight.

The Chili’s Spitter

Although we would prefer not to imagine the number of times an irritated waiter has done a spit-take into an unknowing customer’s food, we have to face the facts when they’re presented.

Earlier this year, a customer who suspected his Chili’s waiter of spitting into his beverage was vindicated when DNA testing proved that the waiter’s spit was present. At the time of the incident, Chili’s managers denied that the employee was at fault, and he was able to keep his job until he left of his own volition months later. In February, the waiter pled guilty and was sentenced to a one-year conditional discharge.


11 Things You Didn't Know About Elizabeth Falkner — Chopped All-Stars

Chef Elizabeth Falkner and basket, as seen on Food Network’s Chopped All Stars, Season 14.

Photo by: Janet Rhodes ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Janet Rhodes, 2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

FN Dish is counting down to the season 3 premiere of Chopped All-Stars by introducing a competitor every day. Sixteen competitors including Food Network and Cooking Channel talent, renowned chefs, Chopped judges and celebrities are competing for a chance to win the title of All-Stars champion and a $50,000 donation to charity. Watch the premiere on Sunday, April 7, at 9pm/8c and keep coming back to FN Dish for exclusive interviews and behind-the-scenes previews.

Elizabeth Falkner first wowed the culinary world with her desserts before turning her attention to savory dishes. She has competed on Iron Chef America, The Next Iron Chef: Super Chefs and recently, The Next Iron Chef: Redemption. Elizabeth previously ran her pastry shop, Citizen Cake, and restaurant, Orson, in San Francisco before relocating to Brooklyn to open her new Southern Italian restaurant, Krescendo. But there's a lot you don't know about Elizabeth — for example, she hates really sweet desserts. And if she weren't a chef, she would probably have been a superhero. You'll have to watch to find out whether she uses any special powers in the Chopped kitchen. Find out more about Elizabeth in her Q&A below.

What's your Achilles' heel ingredient, one that you hate to work with or encounter in someone else's dish?

Elizabeth Falkner: I just hate having sugary sweet desserts or food.

What dish or ingredient will we never catch you eating?

What was your most memorable meal? What, where, who? Details, please.

EF: Best meal I had recently was at La Vara in Brooklyn — it was dinner not long ago with Anita Lo and some friends. Amazing combinations and divine flavors. I also had a great lunch with Chef Bill Yosses, pastry chef of the White House, last summer at Eleven Madison Park. So Fun! Tasting menu was so delicious and beautiful, and a modern cocktail version of a Manhattan served in the kitchen with the use of liquid nitrogen. And the bergamot vanilla egg cream at the end of lunch.

EF: I have been obsessed with making coffee cakes at home in the mornings and I would say that is a guilty pleasure food for me. And, of course, my gelato!

Is there one dish that you always order out and never make at home?

EF: I order Thai chicken curry and Pad Si Ew. I don't make those at home.

If you weren’t in food, what career would you like to have tried?

EF: Now, I visit San Francisco, a great food city to visit. Montreal is up high on the list! LA and Chicago too!

EF: Favorite late-night snack is dinner! Pasta and/or salads with cheese and nuts. Or bruschetta with scrambled eggs and bottarga!

EF: I love to cook with other chefs: Gabrielle Hamilton, Alex Guarnaschelli, Barbara Lynch, Dominique Crenn and my crew at Krescendo!


Courtesy of YouTube

Be honest: Have you ever had a plate of spaghetti and meatballs with your significant other and tried to recreate this romantic, iconic scene? It's a buona notte as Lady and Tramp accidentally kiss over a shared strand of spaghetti!


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The 50 best food-on-film moments of all time

Break out the silverware for TONY's list of great grub caught on camera.

In time for the annual NYC Food Film Festival, we've compiled our 50 favorite food-on-film moments of all time. This isn't a list of our favorite chow-focused flicks&mdashthough staples like Big Night and Babette's Feast have made the cut. Instead, we've widened the pool to pick out scenes across all genres that simply got our stomachs rumbling&mdashin hunger and occasionally in disgust. Think we spoiled the soup? Put down the steak knife and give us the what-for in the comments. Or holler at us on Twitter (@thefeednyc) using the hashtag #foodonfilm.

Raging Bull (1980): The charcoal steak

An overcooked steak ignites boxer Jake LaMotta's wrath in Martin Scorsese's violent sports flick. Robert De Niro's belligerent backseat cooking ("You overcook it, it's no good. It defeats its own purpose") and furious table flip is bone-rattling stuff&mdashbut we briefly consider a similar reaction each time a restaurant presents us with an incinerated slab of beef. Watch the clip.

Annie Hall (1977): Boiling lobsters

Woody Allen and Diane Keaton's calamitous attempt to boil live lobsters perfectly captures the conflicting feelings we face each time we plunge those icky but luscious crustaceans into the scorching water: Gleeful but guilty, rapacious and a little terrified. Too bad we don't get to see Woody in a bib. Watch the clip.

The Hours (2002): Separating eggs

Though Meryl Streep would go on to portray Francophile chef Julia Child in 2009's Julie & Julia, she caught our eye in the kitchen seven years earlier in this drama. Streep&mdashwho portrays a troubled New York editor planning a party for a friend at the end of his life&mdashis most affecting when she meticulously separates eggs, concentrating intensely on the task even as she threatens to crack.

Gold Rush (1925): The roll dance

Charlie Chaplin's iconic dinner-roll dance has been replicated and parodied so many times, it's incredible the genuine article still has legs. (Rim shot!) Though Chaplin wasn't the first to try the gag (Fatty Arbuckle deployed a similar stunt in 1917 film The Rough House), the Tramp's eyebrow-wiggling, shoulder-shrugging rendition of the tabletop ballet is unsurpassed. Watch the clip.

Goodfellas (1990): Dinner in prison

"Beyond the Sea" croons in the background as Paulie, Vinnie and Johnny Dio prepare dinner in the clink. These gangsters eat better in prison than most of us do on the outside: garlic sliced so thin with a razor blade that it would "liquefy in the pan with just a little oil," iced lobsters, steak seared in a skillet, wine, Scotch and pasta sauce that's a touch too oniony. Watch the clip.

The Godfather (1972): Tomato sauce recipe

The only red splatter more ubiquitous than blood in Mafia flicks may be pasta sauce. Those who wish to make their own would benefit from a close viewing of the original Godfather. Capo Peter Clemenza&mdashthe same trencherman who utters the line "leave the gun, take the cannoli" elsewhere in the film&mdashoffers a decent recipe for Sunday gravy: "You start out with a little bit of oil. Then you fry some garlic. Then you throw in some tomatoes, tomato paste, you fry it you make sure it doesn't stick. You get it to a boil you shove in all your sausage and your meatballs. And a little bit of wine, and a little bit of sugar&mdashthat's my trick." Watch the clip.

Once Upon a Time in America (1984): The charlotte russe

Patrick "Patsy" Goldberg has one foot in his youth and the other in adulthood when he ventures to trade a charlotte russe&mdasha white cake pastry topped with whipped cream and a maraschino cherry&mdashfor sexual favors in Sergio Leone's sweeping crime epic. He picks out the five-cent confection from a local bakery ("for the two-penny one she only gives you a hand job I can do that myself") and brings it to Peggy, an underage harlot. He foils his chance to seal the deal while waiting for her in the stairwell, swiping fingerfuls of cream from the cake and eventually devouring the thing in a few desperate bites. Watch the clip.

Pulp Fiction (1994): $5 shake

Would a chick as cool and dishy as Mia Wallace really choose a restaurant like Jack Rabbit Slim's for her faux date with Vincent Vega? We're not so sure. Nonetheless, the fictional 1950s theme restaurant is a rich and bizarre setting for our favorite Pulp Fiction food moment. John Travolta's take on whether Mia's extravagant "Martin and Lewis" (vanilla) milk shake is worth its $5 price tag: "Goddamn, that's a pretty fucking good milk shake." Watch the clip.

Cool Hand Luke (1967): 50 hard-boiled eggs in one hour

Thanks to the exploits of famous competitive eaters like Takeru Kobayashi, we're rarely dazzled anymore by feats of gluttony. But Paul Newman's shirtless 50-egg coup in this prison drama still sparkles. As the unvanquishable Lucas Jackson, Newman earns the respect of his fellow inmates by wolfing 50 peeled eggs until his stomach is distended&mdashin the words of one prisoner&mdash"like a ripe watermelon that's about to bust itself open." Watch the clip.

What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962): Rats for lunch

Joan Crawford, as the wheelchair-bound Blanche, and Bette Davis as her villainous sister and abusive caretaker, Jane, face off in this delightfully perverse thriller. When the rapidly unraveling Jane serves Blanche her lunch beneath a silver dome, you just know there's foul play afoot. Blanche's shrieking, hysterical reaction to the meal&mdasha juicy, tail-and-all rat&mdashis good, twisted fun. Watch the clip.

Saturday Night Fever (1977): Double-stacked pizza slices

Lunch can't slow down Tony Manero in the opening sequence of Saturday Night Fever. Witness John Travolta as he struts to the rhythm of "Stayin' Alive," biting through two pizza slices stacked on top of each other. We haven't seen moves like that since we first beheld the fold-hold. Watch the clip.

Tampopo (1985): The egg yolk

Topping any list of food=nerd filmography is Juzo Itami's comedy, a Japanese tribute to ramen and to the culture and eroticism of food. Though the title character's efforts to save her struggling ramen shop are captivating, our favorite moments come from a subplot involving the imaginative sex life of a yakuza gangster and his female companion. They pass an egg yolk between their mouths without breaking it he spritzes her nipples with lemon juice and lets a live prawn writhe against her naked belly. Their exploits are as appetizing as they are titillating. Watch the clip.

Julie & Julia (2009): Sole meunière

Julia Child's transformative first encounter with sole meunière at La Couronne in Rouen, Normandy, is the stuff of legends. Child called the 1948 meal the most exciting of her life&mdashan epiphany. Meryl Streep re-creates the moment with proper reverence and delight in Norah Ephron's feature, moaning and giggling through each luscious, butter-slicked bite.

The Jerk (1979): "Bring us some fresh wine!"

Nouveau riche buffoon Navin Johnson wants another bottle of wine, but a 1966 Chteau Latour won't do. "Bring us some fresh wine," begins Navin's clueless request in Steve Martin's comedy. "The freshest you've got&mdashthis year! No more of this old stuff!" We're still working up the stones to try this stunt on a stuffy sommelier ourselves. Watch the clip.

The Goonies (1985): Baby Ruth!

Sloth and Chunk bond over their shared affection for choooclaaate in the classic flick The Goonies. When Chunk tosses his hideously deformed companion the candy bar (it whacks him in the forehead and Sloth breaks lose of his chains to pick it up), a pivotal friendship is formed. Bonus points for Julia Child's cameo&mdashshe's frosting a cake on a television in the background. Watch the clip.

Pan's Labyrinth (2006): Child-eating Pale Man

Young heroine Ofelia must retrieve a dagger without waking the "Pale Man," a child-eating monster who sits mutely before an opulent feast, in this scene from Guillermo del Toro's fantasy. We see massive hams topped with pineapple rings, glistening fruit tarts, carafes of wine, and baskets of pomegranates and grapes&mdasha gorgeously styled spread. Watch the clip.

The Great Outdoors (1988): The Old 96er

John Candy and Dan Aykroyd's classic '80s comedy is perhaps most memorable for this gross-out eating scene, a great send-up of gluttonous American restaurant portions. As if the wife's order of a "bucket of salad" and "the medley of perch" weren't absurd enough, Chet (Candy) decides to tackle the Old 96er: a 96-ounce prime aged-beef steak inspired by Paul Bunyan's blue ox. We defy you to show us an actor who does meat-sweats quite like John Candy. Watch the clip.

Marie Antoinette (2006): Ladurée desserts

Few would argue with the assertion that style trumps substance in Sofia Coppola's loose adaption of Marie Antoinette's story. But if you're a sweet tooth, the saccharine, music-video&ndashstyle treatment of the French revolution sets the perfect tone for the real draw of the film: serious pastry porn, courtesy of famous French bakery Ladurée. The patisserie's lavish, color-splashed desserts&mdashburnished canelé, precious petits fours, immaculate mille-feuilles&mdashsurround Marie (Kirsten Dunst) constantly, reflecting her candy-coated life of privilege. Our advice: Head to the NYC location of Maison Ladurée (864 Madison Ave between 70th and 71th Sts, 646-558-3157) and snag a box of the haute macarons for a viewing party. Watch a clip.

American Psycho (2000): Reservations at Dorsia

Reservations play a key role in this adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis's darkly satirical novel: Where you're eating&mdashplus who's with you and whether there's a good bathroom to do coke in&mdashis always more important than what's on the plate for the '80s Wall Street types the film depicts. But while it's easy to smirk at Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale) and his pathetic attempt to get reservations at the mythical Dorsia ("Great sea urchin ceviche"), the feelings of insignificance are familiar to anyone who's tried to navigate NYC's rarefied dining rooms. The only difference is that, these days, the mocking laughter on the other end of the line has been replaced by the Momofuku Ko website telling you, "Sorry, but currently there are no reservations available." Watch the clip.

Rocky (1976): Raw eggs

It's impossible to stop yourself from counting along in your head as Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) cracks not one, not two, but five raw eggs into a glass and chugs them at 4am before one of his epic Philly training runs. It's not a pretty sight&mdashthe extended glug, the dribble of egg yolk down his sweatshirt, the forced burp&mdashbut eating like a heavyweight champion rarely is. Watch the clip.

Ratatouille (2007): Anton Ego tastes the ratatouille

If you can get past the knee-jerk ickiness of rats in the kitchen, Pixar's brilliant rodent romp is a delight for gastronomes. The climactic scene, in which the jaded critic Anton Ego finally bites into Remy's ratatouille, is a beautiful paean the transporting power of food: In a single moment, Ego's eyes widen and the rest of the restaurant drops away as he's transported back to his childhood home in the countryside, where his mother is cooking for him. We eat in search of these ephiphanal bites, capable of triggering emotional responses that have as much to do with how a dish makes you feel as how it tastes. Watch the clip.

Paid in Full (2002): Chinese and champagne

From Cam'ron's mispronunciation of soy sauce ("Mitch, Mitch, Mitch&mdashfuck the soo-ee sauce, man!") to Mekhi Phifer's exuberant eating style, this wise-cracking dinner gives us a glimpse the nouveau riche stylings of the crack-era hustler in Harlem. Ace (Wood Harris) and his cronies can afford to pop bubbly, wear Gucci sweaters and gold ropes, and bet $5,000 on who can throw a balled up brown bag into the trash can&mdashyet they still eat fried rice and spare ribs from the corner Chinese takeout spot. Watch the clip.


60+ Unforgettable Things That Happened in the 1960s

Take a journey through a few of the highs (and lows) of a decade that changed everything.

The 1960s was a time of upheaval in virtually every part of American culture. From music to civil rights, here are just some of the noteworthy events that went down during this incredible decade.

On January 23, Navy Lt. Donald Walsh and Jacques Piccard descend to the bottom of the Mariana Trench (the lowest place on earth) in the submersible the Trieste.

Though it's difficult to think of Hollywood without it, the first star appears on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on February 9. The honor goes to Joanne Woodward.

It's the end of the I Love Lucy franchise on March 2, when Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz divorce. Yet, they still spoke post-divorce. Here, Desi congratulates Lucille on her Broadway debut in Wildcat.

After six months of sit-ins, the Woolworth's lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina, becomes desegregated on July 25.

At the 1960 Summer Olympics, Muhammad Ali (then Cassius Clay) wins the gold medal in light-heavyweight boxing.

Millions tune in on September 26 for the first-ever televised debate. Though those listening on the radio thought Vice President Richard Nixon and Senator John F. Kennedy's performances were equal, the 70-million television viewers preferred Kennedy.

Fred, Wilma, Betty and Barney make their debut on The Flintstones, which premieres on September 30.

Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle of the New York Yankees captivate the country in their pursuit of Babe Ruth's then record-60 home runs in a season. Maris would hit #61 on the last game of the season .

On March 11, 1961, Barbie's boyfriend Ken makes his debut.

In April, Bonwit Teller exhibits five paintings made by an artist who helped produce its window displays. His name: Andy Warhol. Here's the artist at his townhouse in 1966, a property he bought in 1960.

On July 1, Diana Spencer is born in Sandringham, United Kingdom. Here's the future princess on her 1st birthday.

On August 4, President Barack Obama is born in Honolulu, Hawaii. Thirty years later, he'd graduate from Harvard Law School.

After years of work, Mastering The Art Of French Cooking is published in September. The cookbook isn't just a hit &mdash it'll be a bestseller for 5 years and make a star out of Julia Child. Her TV show, The French Chef, would premiere in 1962.

We're simply charmed by Rob and Laura Petrie (and their fabulous suburban home) when The Dick Van Dyke Show makes its debut on CBS, October 3.

Bob Dylan's eponymous first album is released on March 19. Fun fact: The album took only two afternoons to record.

In May, Helen Gurley Brown publishes Sex and the Single Girl, a lifestyle guide for working single women. It was incredibly well-received, selling two million copies in the first three weeks.

Millions of fans are shocked to hear the news that Marilyn Monroe was found dead in her home on August 5.

On September 2, Rod Laver becomes the third tennis player to earn the "Calendar Grand Slam" by winning all four prestigious major tournaments in the same year.

Jet-age glamour arrives in New York when the TWA Flight Center, designed by Eero Saarinen, opens this year. Sadly, Saarinen would never see his long-term project debut &mdash he died of a brain tumor in 1961.

On October 1, Groucho Marx introduces the new host of The Tonight Show: Johnny Carson. His first guests are Joan Crawford, Rudy Vallee and The Phoenix Singers.

John Steinbeck wins the Nobel Prize in Literature. This same year, Linus Pauling wins the Nobel Peace Prize for his opposition to weapons of mass destruction. It's his second Nobel Prize (Pauling's previous was the 1954 Nobel Prize in Chemistry). This is also the year that James Watson and Francis Crick split the Nobel Prize in Physiology/Medicine with Maurice Wilkins for their advances in the discovery of the structure of DNA.

Ava Gardner totes the groundbreaking book, The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan. It sold 3 million copies in its first three years &mdash and would spark the women's movement.


The 9 Most Memorable Crimes That Happened at Fast Food Restaurants - Recipes

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Top Chef Winners: Where Are They Now?

Season 13 of Bravo’s hit reality cooking series Top Chef premiered this month, which made us wonder: what do winners do after taking home the grand prize? We took a trip down memory lane to catch up on all of the champions, way back to the first season in 2006.

A few learnings: More often than not, Top Chef winners go on to open their own restaurant (or two or three of them). Only three out of 12 Top Chefs are women, and some are more high-profile than others. Some have won James Beard Awards, while others have found careers in television. Many have opened or are planning on opening fast-casual concepts.

Here’s an overview of Top Chef winners, then and now.

1. Harole Dieterle

New York native Harold Dieterle won the first season of Top Chef, set in San Francisco in 2006, after besting runner-up Tiffani Faison in the final challenge in Las Vegas. Following stints at Della Femina in the Hamptons and Red Bar and 1770 House in New York City, he worked as a sous chef at The Harrison, also in NYC.

After taking home the $100,000 prize, Harold became a New York City restaurateur. He opened his first restaurant, Perilla, in 2007, and three years later he opened a Thai restaurant called Kin Shop. Later he opened a third concept, The Marrow.

Sadly, none of Harold’s restaurants have stood the test of time. In October 2014 he said goodbye to The Marrow, and last month he announced he would be closing Perilla and Kin Shop as well. In an interview with Eater he attributed his decision to the rising cost of doing business in New York, adding, “It’s gotten to the point where I’m not having fun and enjoying myself. I’m not saying I never want to return to the restaurant business, but right now, I’m feeling a little beat up and a little tired.”

Up next: Harold and his wife are expecting their first child in February, so he’s planning to take some time off. But he expressed interest in opening a fast-casual concept down the road.

2. Ilan Hall

Filmed in Los Angeles, season two was the first time we saw Padma Lakshmi — now a star on Top Chef and beyond — take over as host. Ilan Hall (also a New Yorker) beat Marcel Vigneron in the season finale in Hawaii, amid plenty of heated rivalry between the two contestants. (Fun fact: Ilan and Marcel studied at the CIA at the same time. Apparently they have since made amends.)

Ilan was a line cook at New York City’s Casa Mono before winning Top Chef. In 2009 he opened his first restaurant, The Gorbals, in Los Angeles, but it closed within a week — the county health department shut it down due to an inadequate water heater. Happily it reopened a couple of months later, and in 2014 he opened a second location in Brooklyn. The same year, he announced he would be moving the location of the L.A. restaurant and changing the menu to be almost entirely vegan (it hasn’t reopened yet).

Now, Ilan is the host of Knife Fight, another reality cooking show in which two cooks square off, preparing dishes using a few designated ingredients in just one hour.

Up next: This week, Ilan announced he’s shutting The Gorbals in Brooklyn, changing the concept and the name. Esh — Hebrew for “fire” — will serve Israeli-Middle Eastern barbecue.

3. Hung Huynh

Season three of Top Chef took place in Miami and ended in Aspen, where Hung Huynh, a Vietnamese-American chef, beat two runners-up: Dale Levitski and Casey Thompson. Hung cooked at Per Se and Gilt in New York and held the post of Executive Sous Chef at Guy Savoy Las Vegas before joining the show.

After Top Chef, Hung competed in the 2008 Bocuse d’Or USA contest, with the aim of representing the United States at the international competition the following year. He lost out to Chef Timothy Hollingsworth but went on open a number restaurants with the EMM Group — The General, Catch, Lexington Brass — helping the group expand globally.

After four years, he cut his ties with the group in February 2015, frustrated that he wasn’t “taken seriously by somewhere like the New York Times” working with the large business.

Up next: There’s no word on Hung’s next project, but he wants it to be national in scope. He added, “I think the direction is going toward much more simple and healthy fare. I think the direction is more casual, and less expensive.”

4. Stephanie Izard

In Top Chef: Chicago, Chef Stephanie Izard was named winner over Lisa Fernandes and Richard Blais after a Puerto Rico finale featuring famous New York chefs Eric Ripert, Dan Barber and April Bloomfield. Notably, Stephanie was the first female chef to win Top Chef, and she’s also among the most high-profile alums from the show.

She worked at Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s restaurant Vong before moving opening her first restaurant, Scylla, in Chicago’s Bucktown (she was only 27). Reviews were positive, although Scylla shuttered in 2007, and Stephanie opened her flagship Girl and the Goat with the BOKA Group after her Top Chef win. Again, she received rave reviews for the restaurant, following it with another project, Little Goat, in 2011.

In 2012, Stephanie was nominated for the James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef: Great Lakes award, and she took home the title in 2013.

Up next: Stephanie is getting ready to open Duck Duck Goat, a Chinese-inspired concept with handmade noodles and dumplings — and a takeout window. It’s currently slated for early 2016, and preview tickets go on sale soon.

5. Hosea Rosenberg

In this New York-based season, Hosea Rosenberg wowed judges over Stefan Richter and Carla Hall (now a food television darling). They went head to head in New Orleans, with runners-up from previous seasons as sous chefs.

Hosea worked under established chefs such as Wolfgang Puck before becoming Executive Chef at Jax Fish House. After Top Chef, he opened a catering business, Blackbelly Catering, followed by Blackbelly Farm. His first restaurant — appropriately, Blackbelly Market — came to life in 2011 with a true farm-to-table philosophy, in which the team raises their own livestock and grows organic vegetables for the restaurant.

Up next: In September Hosea announced Blackbelly’s plans to expand its butcher operations, taking over the space next door to the restaurant. Breakfast and lunch operations will move into the new space, along with offerings such as pickles, cured meats and cheeses.

6. Michael Voltaggio

One of the most memorable competitions in Top Chef history was when Michael Voltaggio took on his brother Bryan, along with Chef Kevin Gillespie, in Las Vegas, concluding the season in Napa. Their mother surprised them with an appearance at the finale, turning the occasion into a full-on family affair.

Both Voltaggios grew up in Maryland Bryan attended culinary school, but Michael didn’t. Instead, he apprenticed at The Greenbrier and cooked at Charlie Palmer’s Dry Creek Kitchen. During his time as Chef de Cuisine at The Bazaar by Jose Andres, the restaurant was nominated by the James Beard Foundation for the Best New Restaurant award.

After Top Chef, Michael worked as Chef de Cuisine at The Dining Room in Pasadena and later decided to open his own restaurant, ink., in West Hollywood. The restaurant was highly acclaimed, and Michael followed up with a sandwich shop, ink.sack, just a few doors down.

Up next: Last month, Michael and Bryan announced they are planning to open a steakhouse at MGM National Harbor casino in their home state, Maryland. Although Bryan has nine restaurants of his own, this will be the brothers’ first joint venture.

7. Kevin Sbraga

Starting in Washington D.C., this season culminated in Chef Kevin Spraga coming out as champion over Ed Cotton and Angelo Sosa in Singapore — the series’ first international venue.

Kevin became Culinary Director of Jose Garces’ Garces Restaurant Group in 2008. (He also won Best Meat Presentation at the Bocuse d’Or USA.) At the time that he joined Top Chef, he was the Executive Chef at Rat’s in Hamilton, New Jersey, and after the show wrapped he decided, like many others, that it was time to do his own thing.

In October 2011 Kevin opened his eponymous restaurant Sbraga, earning accolades from Bon Appetit, Zagat and Esquire. He has since opened two additional restaurants, The Fat Ham and Sbraga & Company, both showcasing creative dishes inspired by Southern cuisine and traditions.

Up next: Sbraga & Company just opened in November in Jacksonville, so Kevin is taking on an entirely new market. The project is a partnership with Colicchio Consulting — helmed by Phil Colicchio (cousin of Top Chef‘s Tom Colicchio) — which unites business developers and culinary talent.

8. Richard Blais

Season 8 was Top Chef: All-Stars — all of the contestants were chefs who had competed in previous seasons but missed out on the title. The prize money also doubled from $100,000 to $200,000. Filmed in New York and concluding in The Bahamas, the season saw Chef Richard Blais beat Mike Isabella in the final episode.

Blais, a New Yorker, graduated from the CIA and trained at an impressive list of establishments, including The French Laundry, Daniel, Chez Panisse, and elBulli. He moved to Atlanta in 2000 and founded his own culinary company Trail Blais, opening Flip Burger (with locations in Atlanta, Birmingham and Nashville) and Juniper & Ivy (San Diego).

He first appeared on the fourth season of Top Chef, where he was the runner-up to Chef Stephanie Izard. After winning All-Stars, he became a regular food TV star, hosting the show Cook Your Ass Off on HLN and the Food Network’s Halloween Baking Championship, and of course, judging Top Chef. He published a cookbook, Try This at Home: Recipes from My Head to Your Plate, which was nominated for a 2014 James Beard Award.

Up next: Last month Richard opened another San Diego restaurant, The Crack Shack, an all-day chicken and eggs concept that marks his first foray into the fast-casual space.

9. Paul Qui

In Season 9, Top Chef: Texas, Chef Paul Qui took the Top Chef title over Sarah Grueneberg. With 29 chefs total, there were many more contestants this season than in previous ones. Bravo also introduced the “Last Chance Kitchen” webcasts, in which eliminated contestants continued to compete and the final winner was invited back to the competition.

Paul was born in the Philippines and grew up in Virginia before moving to Austin for culinary school. He trained under Chef Tyson Cole at Uchi and helmed the kitchen at Uchiko, where he won the James Beard Award for Best Chef: Southwest. During that time, he and Moto Utsunomiya started a side project: East Side King, a food truck that’s grown into a five-location concept.

He was already planning to open his own restaurant when he joined Top Chef, but the experience took him in a new direction and gave him the visibility to be able to do so. (Tom Colicchio later called Paul the most talented chef to ever compete on the show.) After Top Chef he opened the doors to qui, an Asian-inspired that has received wide acclaim for its inventive tasting menu.

Up next: Earlier this year Paul announced plans to open Otoko, a 12-seat omakase-style restaurant, in Austin’s South Congress Hotel. In the summer, Food & Wine reported that he is also opening a restaurant outside of Texas for the first time — he’s joining chefs Gabriel Ask and Francis Mallman to start concepts in the Faena Hotel. His is called Pao.

10. Kristen Kish

This Seattle-based season saw Chef Kristen Kish trump Brooke Williamson in the finale. It also added another layer to the “Last Chance Kitchen” series: viewers could vote to save chefs from elimination, and the contestants with the most votes were invited back to the final round of the webcast.

Born in Seoul, South Korea, Kristen grew up in Michigan and studied cooking in Chicago. (She was also a model in high school.) She worked as an instructor at Stir, a demo kitchen and cookbook store founded by Chef Barbara Lynch, before going on to be named Chef de Cuisine at Lynch’s restaurant Menton. She helmed the back-of-house there until 2014.

In 2015 she co-hosted a new Travel Channel series, 36 Hours, based on the New York Times column.

Up next: Last week the Boston Globe reported that Kristen landed a publisher for the cookbook she’s been working on, a collection of � technique-driven recipes.”

11. Nicholas Elmi

In the 11th season in New Orleans, Chef Nicholas Elmi won over Nina Compton and Bravo introduced “Padma’s Picks,” a web series in which local chefs competed for the chance to join the official roster of contestants. His win was actually somewhat controversial Nicholas had survived a few near-eliminations and was considered the underdog of the season.

He has an impressive resume, having cooked at Guy Savoy Paris, Oceana and Lutece, among other restaurants. His own Philadelphia restaurant Laurel debuted just a month after Top Chef premiered it’s a French-inspired BYOB concept with a small, intimate dining room. In March of this year he transitioned to a tasting menu-only format at Laurel.

Up next: Last year Eater reported that Nicholas was planning to open a second restaurant, but nothing has been announced. He is, however, expanding Laurel into the space next door, giving him room for a bar.

12. Mei Lin

In the last full season, set in Boston, Chef Mei Lin was named Top Chef over Gregory Gourdet, and former winner Richard Blais came back as a recurring judge.

Mei grew up outside Detroit, and she comes from a culinary family. She worked alongside her father at the family’s owned-and-operated restaurant before going on to cook with Michael Symon at Roast Marcus Samuelsson at C-House and Wolfgang Puck at Spago Las Vegas. She was part of the opening team at ink., the restaurant launched by former Top Chef winner Michael Voltaggio, and was ultimately named Sous Chef.

After her win, Mei told Eater that she wants to open a restaurant of her own but didn’t share any specific details — only that she wants it to be casual, with quick-service lunch and full-service dinner.


6. Bridges Restaurant and Bar from Mrs. Doubtfire

Mrs. Doubtfire is about a voice actor named Daniel Hillard (played by Robin Williams) who tries to get back into his family’s life after his wife files for divorce. He does so by using his voice acting skills and dressing up as a nanny. Later on in the movie, Hillard has to attend two events held at the same restaurant — one important for his career as himself, and one important for his family as Mrs. Doubtfire. In the hilarity that ensues, Hillard attends both and changes clothes in the bathroom multiple times. It ends with Hillard getting tipsy, performing the Heimlich maneuver, and revealing Mrs. Doubtfire’s true identity to his ex-wife. This was all filmed at Bridges Restaurant and Bar in Danville, California, where chef Kevin Gin merges Californian food with that of Europe and Asia.

Where: 44 Church St, Danville, CA 94526


The 󈨞s were a decade of information, SnackWell’s, and sun-dried tomatoes on everything. Here are eight events that shaped our opinions about cooking and eating.

1. The Launch of the TV Food Network
In April of 1993, a young and scrappy Food Network launched with a debut lineup of French chef Jacques Pepin, writer David Rosengarten, Mrs. Fields founder Debbi Fields, and Emeril Lagasse, a little-known Louisiana restaurateur in his mid-30s with only a handful of prior television appearances under his belt.

Dorie Greenspan, who worked at the network during its launch as a consultant and producer, remembers it as a pioneering time in the unexplored realm of food television. On the TASTE Podcast, Greenspan recalled the head of programming at the time saying, “We’re going to make somebody a star, but we don’t know who that person will be.” It swiftly became clear that Emeril was that star.

In addition to the runaway hits, like Essence of Emeril, there were misgivings during the launch. “This was really a startup in every sense of the word,” she told me. “We made some terrible mistakes. We couldn’t figure out a bunch of things. We tried doing a call-in show, which seemed revolutionary. We were learning.”

The only model the network had at the time for programming about cooking was public television—shows like James Beard’s I Love to Eat and Julia Child’s The French Chef. But the move to cable meant a move toward the mainstream. “I don’t think you can underestimate the impact of that,” says Ruth Reichl. “That’s the moment that food really stopped being the provenance of the elites and became part of popular culture. Children watched it and were interested in chefs, and chefs became cool in a way that they hadn’t before.”

2. Fat Is Bad, But Everything Else Is Good
At the tail end of the ’80s, a few influential government reports were published, recommending that Americans consume less fat. Americans internalized this as a directive that it was OK to consume as many calories as they wanted, as long as those calories weren’t coming from fat. A zany infomercial nutritionist named Susan Powter encouraged Americans to fill their shopping carts with cereal and low-fat chips, and SnackWell’s were born, promising unlimited amounts of dessert with no health repercussions.

Lay’s launched one of the most famous product missteps in the history of American consumerism. WOW chips, introduced in 1998, promised the same potato chip flavor with only one gram of fat per serving—a feat made possible by frying in a synthetic fat substitute called Olestra. Almost as soon as the chips hit the market, accounts started to pour in of horrible stomach woes caused by the chips. The FDA famously used the phrase “anal leakage” to describe the side effects, leading to one of the grossest and most memorable PR disasters in the history of packaged foods.

3. Sushi Goes Mainstream
By the ’90s, sushi had existed in the United States for more than three decades, but this was the moment when it really caught on, especially as Japanese companies opened offices in U.S. cities. “It all started when Sony bought Columbia Pictures in 1989 and the entire West Coast went mad for sushi,” speculates Alan Richman, who was the restaurant critic at GQ at the time.

Everyone started opening sushi restaurants, including Robert DeNiro with a then little-known chef named Nobuyuki Matsuhisa, and in turn, sushi evolved from a rarefied luxury that one could only find in coastal cities to a casual, affordable treat that happened to fit perfectly into the era’s philosophy about nutrition. And then grocery stores started to catch on, stocking their refrigerator cases with plastic trays of California and spicy tuna rolls.

4. The Dawn of Online Recipes
When we talk about the kind of rapid globalization that happened in the ’90s, it’s hard to avoid talking about the Internet, which shattered our spatial relationships to one another by making it as easy to talk to someone in Australia as it was to talk to the kid in your social studies class who lived down the street.

As the Internet became woven into our daily lives through services like Prodigy and America Online, it was only a matter of time before this rapidly growing technology became a way to disseminate the recipes and cooking advice that you could previously find only in magazines and cookbooks.

In 1995, Condé Nast launched Epicurious, a forward-thinking database of recipes compiled from some of the company’s food and travel magazines, including Bon Appétit and Gourmet. By the end of the decade, blogging platforms like Blogger and Xanga had emerged, paving the way for a generation of self-publishing food bloggers, like David Lebovitz in 1999, and Heidi Swanson, Pim Techamuanvivit, and Clotilde Dusoulier in the early 2000s.

5. A New Era for Restaurant Critics
“I think the ’90s were the great era of restaurants in America,” says Alan Richman. The economy was strong, people had money to spend, and newspapers and magazines had budgets to send their critics to eat out and report on the latest trends in food. Fine-dining stalwarts in New York, like Le Bernardin, Daniel, and Jean-Georges, were thriving. But it was also a time when critics like Robert Sietsema at the Village Voice and Ruth Reichl at The New York Times started to clue diners in to the fact that “eating out” didn’t always have to mean French restaurants with white tablecloths.

“I was interested in talking about the way real people ate,” says Reichl. “I felt like restaurant reviews in The New York Times had been geared to a very small group of wealthy white people. And I thought everybody should go to restaurants.”

When Reichl reviewed her first Korean restaurant, Kang Suh, in 1993, three separate local Korean newspapers from New York reached out to her for interviews. When she wrote about a soba restaurant called Honmura An that same year, it caused a flap among readers who weren’t used to seeing “a little Japanese noodle shop” receive three stars.

6. NAFTA Reshapes California’s Food Landscape
In 1994, NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement) was signed, formalizing a trade agreement among Canada, Mexico, and the United States. As Tina Vasquez writes, the agreement was greeted with lots of anti-immigrant pushback among Americans. Carlos Salinas de Gortari, the Mexican president at the time, promised Americans that the agreement would reduce migration by stabilizing Mexico’s economy.

Instead, the agreement caused vast unemployment in Mexican industries that struggled with their new competition, leading to one of the largest historic spikes in immigration to the United States from Mexico. This brought a boom of Mexican grocery stores, butchers, restaurants, and other businesses to the U.S., especially in Californian communities like the Bay Area and Los Angeles. Grocery store chains like Chavez Supermarkets, Vallarta Market, and Northgate González are still thriving in these parts of the state.

7. Italian Food Goes Regional
In my house, in a suburb of Buffalo, New York, the ’90s was the era when the green Kraft canister of Parmesan cheese in the refrigerator was replaced with a little plastic-wrapped triangle of hard cheese and a hand-crank cheese grater. Starbucks and Olive Garden (which were founded in the ’70s and ’80s, respectively) were starting to make their way into every suburb, and Americans were warming up to the idea of saying “venti” out loud.

Marcella Hazan, Italy’s Julia Child, published The Essentials of Italian Cooking in 1992, and Molto Mario (starring Mario Batali before he had been accused of sexual assault) first aired in 1996. Americans were coming to terms with the fact that Italian food was more than a plate of spaghetti and meatballs—it was a cuisine with discrete regions, like Piedmont and Emilia-Romagna. And of course, every chef and home cook in America started putting sun-dried tomatoes on everything.

8. The Collapse of the Soviet Union Rewrites the World Map
When the Soviet Union ended in 1991, the entire world map changed. Countries that hadn’t had a spot on the spinning globe in decades reemerged, and a few altogether new ones were formed. Suddenly, trade opened up between these countries and the rest of the world, spurring a period of wild, unregulated capitalism. Soviet-government-owned food-manufacturing companies started going out of business.

“Everyone wanted pizza, and later in the ’90s sushi, and there was this huge flood of new, very shoddy quality global foods, to which most people didn’t have access because the prices weren’t regulated,” says Anya Von Bremzen, the author of Please to the Table and Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking. “It’s a decade that’s remembered really negatively in that former Soviet bloc.”

The dissolution of the USSR also increased immigration to the U.S. from former Soviet countries. Cuba, which had been a close ally of the Soviet Union, was plunged into an economic depression, during which lack of ingredients lead to a loss of traditional Cuban cuisine.

On a broader level, as Von Bremzen points out, this large-scale globalization was the start of another very ’90s concept: nostalgia for all things regional.


Major World Political Leaders

Australia -- Prime Minister - Sir Robert Menzies --

Brazil -- President - Café Filho -- Till 9 November

Brazil -- President - Carlos Luz -- From 9 November

Brazil -- President - Carlos Luz -- Till 11 November

Brazil -- President - Nereu Ramos -- From 11 November

Canada -- Prime Minister - Louis St. Laurent --

China -- Chairman of the People's Republic of China - Mao Zedong --

France -- President - René Coty --

Germany -- Chancellor - Konrad Adenauer --

India -- Prime Minister - Jawahar Lal Nehru --

Italy -- Prime Minister - Mario Scelba -- Till 2 July

Italy -- Prime Minister - Antonio Segni -- From 6 July

Japan -- Prime Minister - Ichiro Hatoyama --

Mexico -- President - Adolfo Ruiz Cortines --

Russia / Soviet Union -- First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union - Nikita Khrushchev --