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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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Voltaggio Sibling Smackdown at the Beard House

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Michael and Bryan Voltaggio

On Tuesday night, Bryan and Michael Voltaggio, Top Chef finalist and winner, respectively, put aside their sibling rivalry (sort of) and put on their aprons to cook together for a somewhat rowdy, sold out crowd at NYC’s Beard House. (How sold out was it? There were 130 people on the waiting list.) During the six-course meal, Michael, whose profile appears in the April issue of F&W, played up his role as the annoying little brother, “feeling bad that my food was so much better than Bryan’s.” Bryan, chef/owner of Volt in Frederick, MD, meanwhile, explained why he was almost late to the dinner: He was at the Maryland State House being honored for his commitment to local farmers and for ramping up tourism in Frederick (that second part is thanks to Top Chef). Of course there was an after party; happily it was at Tom Colicchio's new Colicchio & Sons with plenty of magnums of Champagne.

For anyone who wants to live vicariously, below are some highlights of the Beard dinner.

Michael’s Porcini Puffs – crispy crackers topped with smoked salmon powder and roe that were the perfect blend of crunchy, smoky and salty.

Bryan’s sweet and sour macaroons, which he also made on the show – they were more like an ingenious meringue filled with guacamole and corn puree.

The homemade bread that they managed to bake perfectly in the tiny Beard kitchen.

And for those having separation anxiety from Top Chef Season 6, the brothers’ have just launched their first venture together, voltaggiobrothers.com.

Travel

Park City's Sugar Buzz

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© Courtesy of Sugar Buzz
Park City's Sugar Buzz

Last month, I spent a long weekend in Park City, Utah, hitting the slopes and checking out the emerging food scene we highlighted in our February travel story. One of my favorite finds was the adorable retro-chic candy shop Sugar Buzz, which opened about a year ago, just off of Main Street. The walls are lined with a dizzying assortment of glass candy jars, showcasing everything from licorice to lollipops to dark chocolates to caramels. I loaded up a paper sack with my nostalgic favorite, German raspberries, but also couldn't resist the red velvet cookies, topped with cream-cheese frosting, that were at the bakery by the register. I skipped the Illy espresso this time around but will surely pick one up the next time I am in town.

News

NYC's Outstanding Coffee AND Pastry Spots

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In today’s New York Times, the brilliant Oliver Strand (an F&W contributor) confirmed that New York City is finally taking coffee seriously. And he provided a comprehensive list of places that serve the best espresso and drip coffee. (The online map is fanastically helpful). Well, Strand also has a list that’s even more important to me: places that serve amazing coffee and pastries. “It used to be that hard-core coffee places banished food,” says Strand. “Now they’re taking it back but on their own terms. They’ve designed food that goes with the coffee.”

Here are four great coffee and pastry spots from Strand’s piece:

Abraço Strand calls out this East Village spot out as having some of the city’s best cappuccinos and drip coffees. He also loves its excellent baked goods, including a shortbread cookie with cured olives that’s “a great combination of sweet and salty.” Abraconyc.com

Bakeri In Brooklyn’s Williamsburg 'hood, this tiny spot produces great macchiatos and a tiny brioche loaf with candied orange that’s really amazing. Bakeribrooklyn.com

Bluebird Coffee Shop A night baker from Amy’s Breads comes to this East Village coffee joint after his shift to make the outstanding pastries, including candied ginger molasses cookies with white pepper. Strand recommends it with his favorite drink of the moment, a cortado (a mix of espresso and steamed milk). bluebirdcoffeeshop.com

Stumptown Coffee Roasters – The first Manhattan branch of the famed west coast coffee roasters, this kiosk inside the Ace Hotel on West 29th Street gets pastries from Prime Meats in Brooklyn (F&W featured Prime Meat's sweet and savory food in our February issue). If Strand had to highlight one thing, it would be the caramelized French toast. “It has an amazing sugar crust—you crunch right through the sugar,” he says. stumptowncoffee.com

Restaurants

Top Chef's Kevin Gillespie's New 'Cue Project

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Kevin Gillespie


Top Chef's Kevin Gillespie

While attending one of Serenbe's Southern Chefs Series workshops, writer Danny Bonvissuto spoke to guest chef Kevin Gillespie about his next restaurant project. Here's the scoop:

Thanks to Top Chef, Gillespie’s farm-to-table restaurant, Woodfire Grill, is often booked six weeks out. Gillespie’s next project: a barbecue joint just a few blocks away in an old auto repair shop. Due to open in November, the spot – which he says will be named with Atlanta in mind – will have no menu; he’ll roast two Berkshire hogs a day, rotate side dishes, and when the food’s gone, it’s gone.

Chefs

Top Chef’s Kevin Gillespie at Serenbe

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Kevin Gillespie


Top Chef's Kevin Gillespie

Food writer and Atlanta native Danny Bonvissuto recently attended one of the ongoing Southern Chefs Series workshops at Serenbe, a modern eco-community 30 miles outside of Atlanta. The weekend's guest chef was Top Chef fan favorite Kevin Gillespie. She shares her takeaway:
 
As if his Mr. Nice Guy celebrity personality hadn’t already endeared him to the masses, Gillespie showed up with his knives, a big bag of pork cracklings and a sorghum-and-mustard-glazed pork shoulder that had already spent 16 hours cooking sous vide.

Gillespie was there to show me and 11 others some of his best recipes and kitchen tricks. He passed out recipes but made it clear that they were only to be used as guides. Instead, he had us listen to the sound of the Vita-Prep as it chopped its way through protein pockets while making tarragon mayonnaise for the poached chicken salad; he had us look at the way the custard for the warm banana pudding stood up on his finger.

Gillepsie firmly believes there’s no such thing as too much pork. Bacon grease and pork cracklings were in the cornbread. Country ham and smoked bacon were in the tomato-braised collards. Heck, there was even bacon in the mixed lettuce salad with pecan-raisin croutons and creamy cider dressing, which Gillespie called “a light lunch.”

Future guest teachers at Serenbe’s Southern Chefs Series include chef and cookbook author Nathalie Dupree (April 25–26); Atlanta’s JCT Kitchen chef Ford Fry (July date TBD); chef and cookbook author Virginia Willis (October 24–25); Hugh Acheson, chef of 5&10 in Athens, Georgia, in 2011; and return engagements TBD for chefs Linton Hopkins and Gillespie. $425 includes the Sunday/Monday workshop, meals with wine and overnight accommodations at Serenbe (770-463-2610 or serenbe.com).

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Congratulations to Nicholas Elmi, winner of Top Chef: New Orleans, the 11th season of Bravo's Emmy-Award winning, hit reality series.

Already looking forward to next year (June 19-21, 2015)? Relive your favorite moments from the culinary world's most sensational weekend in the Rocky Mountains.