© Brian NevinsIs there anything that could possibly be better than hanging out with Tom Colicchio during the Top Chef finale? Yes: spending the finale with Tom and John Legend, the unbelievably soulful singer at a super-intimate dinner at Craftsteak for an American Express Pairings dinner. (It's part of Amex's Enthusiast program for card members that pairs Food & Wine & Music. This is where I say that F&W is owned by Amex.) That means Tom and John talked about how they met (Tom says a Hamptons food event; John thinks it was at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival in Miami). And how John’s food background inspired Tom’s dinner: John’s grandmother played organ at church on Sundays and then came home and made cornbread and greens. Tom translated that into a fabulously creamy polenta with spigarello (a Tuscan-kale-like green) with succulent roasted porchetta. He also served guinea hen, because, hey, John loves poultry.

John and Tom created a playlist for the meal, including Stevie Wonder’s “Summer Soft” and Sufjan Stevens’s “Come On! Feel the Illinoise!” What tops that? John Legend playing the most unbelievably awesome 40-minute set, including “Good Morning” (it doubled as “Happy Birthday” to his girlfriend), a cover of Chaka Khan’s “Sweet Thing” and, for an encore, “Ordinary People.” The only thing that didn’t happen at that dinner: Tom revealing who'd win Top Chef.


© Brian Nevins