Between the upcoming Bowl that is Super and Valentine's Day, we are awash in articles right now about where to get the best orange-and-blue sushi (Tsunami) or where to have your romantic candlelit dinner (White Castle--their second year offering reservations!), but in amongst the goofy boosterism a mishmosh of newsbits:
• Striking fear in one's heart: The Food Network announced that it will tape the first-ever Food Network Awards on February 23 at the South Beach Wine and Food Festival for airing in April. Emeril will be the MC (of course) and all the other regulars of the Food Network fambly will also be presenters. Presenters of what, though? And to whom? To each other? The press release tells us, "The Food Network Awards will combine the fun of Food Network with the glamour of South Beach to make an entertaining, off-beat awards ceremony unlike any other on television." So that could be a nightmare.
Also attending/presenting will be Catherine Zeta-Jones and Aaron Eckhart, who are starring in the upcoming film No Reservations. In it Mrs. Douglas portrays "a master chef who lives her life like she runs her kitchen at a trendy Manhattan eatery--with a no-nonsense intensity that both captivates and intimidates everyone around her. Kate's perfectionist nature is put to the test when she 'inherits' her nine-year-old niece Zoe, while contending with a brash new sous-chef who joins her staff." If this sounds familiar, it's because this is a remake of the German film Mostly Martha, which if I remember correctly did have some pretty delicious food cinematography but was kinda feeb overall. (A quick scan of the No Res credits reveals no big culinary names listed as "consultant" that I could see, but Philip Glass wrote the music! Wild.)
• Okay, I'm missing something here: has anybody ever eaten at Lucky Strike Lanes, right next to the River East cinemas on Illinois? Their name came up again this week--a bizillion press-released times--because the current executive chef, Eric Possa, is going to be heading up the catering for the (6,000 plate, 95-chef) after-Grammys dinner. There's a connection between the LA firm Along Came Mary, which brought together the team for the Grammy catering, and Lucky Strike, which is also based in LA; ACM is the chain's menu consultant. That part makes sense.
But I still can't figure out what's going on with the food at this bowling alley. Before landing at Lucky Strike Possa did three years at Avenues, and before that short stints at Tru and Spiaggia. I'm not sure when he took over from Charlie McKenna (or where he is now), but McKenna was the Lanes' chef when it opened in 2005; before that he was hired to replace Roland Liccioni at Les Nomades and had also worked at Avenues and Tru. What is up with all these serious cheffy backgrounds? The menu seems good, full of fun adult cocktail party food, but it's hard to tell what the culinary deal is. I have no excuse for not knowing; I can see the neon bowling pin sign out my window. I promise I will take a dip in sometime and try to find out. Anybody else know?
• Colleen McShane, who guided the powerful Illinois Restaurant Assocation for 14 years through battles over taxes, nutritional labeling, smoking bans and the great fatty liver hoo-ha, resigned this week. "Change is good," McShane said. "Fourteen years is a long time in such a targeted and regulated industry." I would guess her experiences in the IRA would make her qualified to lead troops in Iraq or head up the UN next.
• Sharon Tyler Herbst, the author of many food-related books but most notably The Food Lovers Companion, died last Friday. The FLC, about to come out in its fourth revised edition, has become a--the?--standard reference book for the food world. Turns out Herbst was born in Chicago.
• Tory Miller, who started as chef de cuisine under Odessa Piper at Madison's L'Etoile and bought the restaurant in 2005, is getting married to Liliane Calfee, whom he met when she worked there are as a server during graduate school. What can I say; I thought it was a nice story. Most everything about L'Etoile makes me happy. Plus let's hear it for chefs able to have a personal life. Will watch No Reservations to see how it's done.