Cookoff: roommate

Then-Sous Chef (now Chef de Cuisine) Jon Bignelli of D-50, preparing Squab with butternut noodles, cream soda and carob. (Creative Commons photo from the Flickr account of diacritical)

Here’s the most interesting thing to happen to me in a long time: a winner of Bravo’s Top Chef recommends I have potential roommates cook for me, so I can find someone who loves food as much as I do.

What a rockin’ idea!

The Chef is Stephanie Izard (here’s her blog), and via a Twitter conversation, I lamented that I’m having trouble finding someone who likes food as much as me. She suggested I make them cook for me. My translation: a full-blown cookoff.

But what’s a cookoff if no one’s participating? To that end, I’m spreading the word among Chicago’s media (and social media) that I have a Gold Coast apartment ready to share with the best cook I can find to room with. I’m also trying to spread the word among students of the Culinary and Hospitality Institute of Chicago—AKA CHIC.

I’ll keep you updated on my marketing progress, and after I return to Chicago from a Thanksgiving holiday in Ohio, I’ll shoot some pictures of the apartment for this continually-evolving post, to which I’ll refer candidates.

I figure the cookoff will take place mid-December, with a move-in date as soon after as possible. (Maybe I’ll have to wait until Jan. 1, I dunno.)

World’s biggest egotrip


Me standing next to a Bugatti 16:4 Veyron at Gold Coast Bentley, a few blocks from my house (Rush and Pearson, Chicago). Top speed: 253 mph. Cost: originally about a million, I heard. It’s probably around $2 million now. (Photo by my mom, I think)

This article is about the fastest production car in the world, the Bugatti Veyron. The Times reviewed it because they’re releasing a topless version soon to compliment the coupe (next to which I’m standing, above).

I’m sharing not only because I followed the Veyron’s development in middle school, but because of the writing. This writer, Lawrence Ulrich, knew his audience: people who aren’t gonna buy this car. He makes them feel good inside, like, it’s OK you don’t buy this car… or even any other supercar with one-eighth this $2.1 million price tag.

He didn’t diss capitalism, or engineering, but he didn’t hawk consumerism either, which is what most car writers do. In fact he checked it. Good job, Mr. Ulrich.

(And thanks for putting in the green-car plugs. You know where the world’s going.)

Restaurant dreams


Hazelnut and Chard Ravioli Salad, conceived, prepared and photographed by Heidi Swanson of

I owe it to you to explain why most of the past couple weeks’ posts spoke only of food. (By the way, my menus are compiled at the end of this post.) I have been thinking of starting an underground restaurant.

I had read an article years back about people who love to cook inviting others to their homes for dinner. And charging them. It’s more personal than a restaurant, but it also provides some semblance of an income for the cook, who’d be putting a lot of time into the preparation.

I revisited this idea when I recently sought work in a restaurant and found the old catch-22. That is to say, I haven’t been able to get a back-of-house job because I haven’t already done it for several years. So I figured I’d take matters into my own hands.

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