We all put a great deal of faith in Tom Colicchio and Padma Lakshmi each week when we allow them to gauge just how good or inedible the Top Chef contestants’ food is. It’s time now for you to tell a Top Chef that his dish needs more salt or that she undercooked her trout. We can consider ourselves lucky to live in Los Angeles yet again – everyone ends up moving here at some point or another.
Three notable Top Chef alums have recently opened restaurants in our sprawling metropolis and it’s high time you took a seat at your own version of judge’s table. They’re rightfully covering ground from downtown LA to Studio City and into Santa Monica.
Winner of Top Chef season 2, Ilan Hall has created The Gorbals set downtown in the Alexandria Hotel. It opened for a hot minute and was shut due to a faulty broiler. Now there are only rumors as to when it will reopen. It turns out that a Gorbal is not only a neighborhood in Scotland, but it’s also Hall’s new word for an amalgam of culinary styles. His restaurant will offer Scottish, Jewish, Spanish, and American cuisine with twists and turns abound. Rarebit with a chicken egg, bacon-wrapped matzoh balls, and lamb breast with mint are all on the menu– get those metaphorical, culinary red pens out.
Stefan Richter, the Finnish contestant on season 5 who made skinning an eel look like child’s play, has opened Stefan’s at LA Farm on Olympic Blvd in Santa Monica. LA Farm, already an institution in this city, has gotten quite the makeover. What was once semi-predictable, now has a menu rife with flavor profiles worthy of an “Elimination challenge”– it seems the oysters served with absinthe jelly and fennel are a hit, we’ll be sure to test out the celery root ravioli with pancetta and sage or perhaps we’ll spring for his sliced pig heads with champagne chive vinaigrette, radishes and frisee.
Lastly, Fabio Viviani, the Italian charmer of season 5 has decided to bring traditional Florentine recipes to Studio City. His Firenze Osteria sits on Lankershim Blvd and serves up the kind of cuisine that goes perfectly with his accent. Alongside fellow Italians Jacopo Falleni, mixologist and co-owner, and John Paolone, co-executive chef, this boys club has made room also for restaurateur Lisa Long. Staples like prosciutto and melon or carpaccio di manzo will start you off as you head toward braised short rib ravioli and ossobucco. As any judge worth their salt, you’ll tell him whether or not mamma could have made it better.