Posts for February 13, 2013

Spanish Chef Accused of Poisoning Ten of His Fellow Cooks

Don't trust the toque.Photo: iStockphoto

The view may be fantastic at the El Lavaderu restaurant in Gijon, Spain, but an unnamed assistant chef there is allegedly an aspiring murderer. (Not cool, unnamed assistant chef.) Police have arrested the 55-year-old on the suspicion he's been poisoning his colleagues on the line with calcium cyanamide — perhaps even over a lengthy time period. The Telegraph reports that at least one of the poisoned, nauseous cooks figured something was up when the chef's girlfriend, who worked alongside them in the Asturian restaurant, was the only other staff member who did not fall ill. The assistant cook now faces fourteen counts of attempted murder, and is also being investigated in connection with the sudden death of the restaurant's former head chef, who suffered a fatal heart attack in 2011. It gets worse, too: In addition to all that, authorities say the restaurant's former owners were afflicted with strange maladies that resolved after they'd moved on from the premises. [Telegraph UK via Eater]

Baconfest Releases Details Galore; Tickets on Sale February 20

Shift lineups for the two sessions at the 2013 Baconfest Chicago, to be held on February 20 at the UIC Pavilion, have been announced. Approximately 65 chefs will crank out bacon related dishes during each 3-1/2 hour session; the full lists are below. Baconfest also announced some beverage partners, including Templeton Rye Whiskey, Candid Wines, Lagunitas and Labatt Blue as new beer partners, and mixologists Mike Ryan of Sable and Stephen Cole of Barrelhouse Flat making cocktails. Nueske's is back as the bacon sponsor, there are new merchants presenting their stuff, and tickets go on sale a week from today, February 20. And don't forget, a portion of proceeds goes to the Greater Chicago Food Depository. See the chefs and shifts below; more info is here.

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Alton Brown Says the New Star Wars Needs More Farm-to-Table Food

For its March issue, which hits stands next Tuesday, Wired polled all the notable residents of geekopolis to glean their thoughts on what kinds of topics the next Star Wars movie absolutely needed to cover. Alton Brown says "weird food" is high on his wish list, writing that he's always been fond of Yoda's stew, Aunt Beru's taste in vegetables, and the blue milk Luke's Uncle Owen puts out each night at dinner. So bring on the newfangled Jedi feasts. We're onboard as long as it doesn't involve young padawans hitting up their local takeout joints for cheap and greasy tauntaun soup. That's not sustainable. [Wired]

Four Loko Gets a Makeover

This can is now vintage.

The Federal Trade Commission and Phusion Projects finally reached a settlement on Four Loko. The frat-boy favorite is going to sport a new label, which will solve all the problems it causes. If the malt beverage exceeds two servings of alcohol, it's required to have an "alcohol facts panel" on the back. Study up before you chug! The FTC says that a 23.5-ounce can of Four Loko is the equivalent of four to five beers, but someone smart decided not to put that on the can. Information on how to get drunk quickly and cheaply is like catnip for teenagers, whom this drink has left hospitalized.

Phusion's still complaining. »

Michael Laiskonis Is Coming to L2O. Who Is He?

Michael Laiskonis at a 2012 Common Threads event at NellcĂ´te.

So did Lettuce Entertain You have "Vacuum Up All The Star Pastry Chefs In the World" on their "Things to Do in 2013" list? Because in the last couple of days, they hired Amanda Rockman away from The Bristol and Balena, and now (according to 312 Dining Diva) they've hired Michael Laiskonis, longtime (though not current) pastry chef of Le Bernardin, to work at L2O. So that's the first answer to the question, who is Michael Laiskonis? He was the pastry chef at Le Bernardin under Eric Ripert for eight years, where he won Outstanding Pastry Chef at the James Beard Awards in 2007, he wrote a really terrific essay about leaving that job for The Atlantic a year ago, he's cooked in Chicago at at least one high-profile event, and most recently, so far as we can tell, he was at the Institute for Culinary Education, a culinary school in New York.

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There Are 500 McDonald’s Employees on That Stranded Carnival Cruise Ship

Long lines for burgers! Spewing toilets! It's the worst McDonald's employee vacation ever.Photo: Courtesy United States Coast Guard

Up to 500 of the 3,143 passengers aboard the disabled Carnival Triumph cruise vessel in the Gulf of Mexico are fast-food "franchisees and executives from the Houston area," CBS Houston reports. The stranded ship is being towed by two tugboats and is expected to reach port in Alabama sometime tomorrow. In the meantime, passengers have been sending reports to family members describing four-hour waits for hamburgers; elsewhere, there's news of overflowing toilets and "water and feces all over the floor," which, taken together, is really grim, but also certainly represents the absolute worst nightmare any McDonald's franchisee would ever expect to have.

We're running out of food. »

Slideshow: Explore the Food and Culture of Indonesia With Rickshaw Republic

Indonesian food has long ranked among the top ethnic cuisines surprisingly unrepresented in Chicago; the occasional small restaurant has popped up (and then disappeared a year or two later), and the chain Penang had an outpost in Chinatown until it burned in 2008. So what exactly have we been missing? Three week-old Rickshaw Republic, located across from the now-closed Children's Memorial Hospital in Lincoln Park, aims not only to show us the unique flavors of Indonesia but to educate Chicagoans about Indonesian culture through its artful decor. With only a little experience of what Indonesian food is like, we went there with the help of Francis Sadac, a Chicago-based food lover who grew up in and regularly travels to southeast Asia, to get a sense of how Indonesians eat and what you can sample of it at Rickshaw Republic. Here's what we found; read our account below, then check out our slideshow of top dishes and meet the family behind it all, the Setiawan family.

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Watch a Funny Scene About Artisanal Popcorn From This Week’s Portlandia

In this week's Portlandia, Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein play pushy movie theater concession workers who hawk artisan, rustic food. "The newspaper infuses the food with the grittiness of the paper," is actually one of their claims. They oblige an overwhelmed customer to purchase Italian soda, arugula salad with fresh cheese ("it stinks, and that's good"), sun-dried grapes, and salted ice cream with a very important drizzle of caramel. Sound familiar? The episode airs this Friday, February 15 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on IFC.

"It's like being in Europe a little bit, but here." »

Try It Again, Charlie: Trotter to Auction Restaurant Contents Online

"@collector219 ROFL that you think that copper pot can go 4 $6. Bid higher or GTFO"

The last time an auction prompted this much excitement, Cary Grant was trying to escape from the bad guys in North by Northwest. But Charlie Trotter's efforts to sell off the contents of his legendary, now-closed Chicago restaurant keep stirring up trouble and chaos. First a pallet of rare wine disappeared en route to Christie's from Chicago. Then the original live auction in December turned into a three-ring circus, with Trotter tossing out Chicago Tribune reporter Mark Caro, berating the audience for failing to appreciate the cost of the frames of some of his restaurant's art, and finally pulling the plug on the whole sale. But when the auction kicks off online today, all Trotter will be able to do is tweet his displeasure.

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How's Takito Kitchen Coming Along? Colorfully, With the Help of Artist Dennis Quijano

Takito Kitchen, the "modern taco" shop in Ukrainian Village with ex-Carnivale chef David Dworshak at its helm, opens in March, but here you can get a little taste of what it's going to be like... at least, how it intends to stake a claim in street food creed. One wall will be decorated with a graffiti art take on its logo by Chicago artist Dennis Quijano from Paper Crown Gallery; in this two-minute video, we see how Quijano created his artwork. Watch it below.

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