Young and Hungry

Food News You Can Use: ‘Top Chef’ in D.C. Gossip

top chef pic_opt

Y&H is no Reliable Source, but even this food scribe is occasionally thrown a scrap of gossip about all the Top Chef shenanigans going on in the District. Like yesterday, a source told me that some white-jacket types were seen cooking in the building across the street from NPR's headquarters at 635 Massachusetts Ave. NW.

Apparently the aromas were torturing some NPR staffers who work in the building. There was even some speculation that the cheftestants were being ask to do a TV demonstration dish — you know, one of those dishes that a chef throws together quickly on camera while the TV host blathers away.

So says my source quoting another source.  This is what passes for reporting in the world of Top Chef stalking.

Meanwhile, Hank's Oyster Bar chef/owner Jamie Leeds tweeted that Gail Simmons, Mike Isabella (Zaytinya's chef and a contestant last year on Top Chef), and another TC alumnus, Spike Mendelsohn, all dined at her Dupont Circle restaurant last night.

I spoke with Leeds this afternoon, who said the trio was part of a larger entourage that dined at Hank's.  Leeds wasn't there for the celeb sighting but said they ordered lots of oysters on the half shell as well as fried oysters and clams and some sides like mac 'n' cheese and onion rings.

"They were smiling and laughing and having fun, " says Leeds, who hadn't heard whether Isabella and Mendelsohn had just shot an episode for the coming season. "I was kind of fantasizing that they were scouting out Hank's with the idea of doing a quick fire [challenge]."

Leeds was imagining a shucking challenge at her restaurant. Alas, there has been no call from Top Chef producers. But she does have another celebrity chef coming to her Dupont restaurant. She says that Bizarre Foods' Andrew Zimmern has a reservation for later this week.

Finally, Chris Shott, the Show & Tell alumnus who's now our Interim News Editor, spotted Padma Lakshmi last night at the Westend Bistro by Eric Ripert, where she was dining with an unknown older gentleman in a booth.

I asked Shott to tell me what Lakshmi was eating, what she was wearing, what her dining companion was eating. His response?

"I was too distracted by her plunging neckline to pay any attention to what she was eating."

Photo courtesy of Top Chef