This Week’s L.A. Happenings: Chi Lin & Altitude Pool at SLS Opens, New Burgers At LA Market

NOW OPEN: Chi Lin For The Sexy-Rocker Types
Get your chopstick etiquette in check because Chi Lin is now officially open on Sunset. Brought to you by Innovative Dining Group (the folks behind Boa and Sushi Roku), Chi Lin is a sexy, intimate new dining spot dishing out creative Hong Kong cuisine like Pin Pei Chicken served with hand-made porbien crepes and Leaves of Wild Yam in Lemon Zest, a superfood dark green leaves of wild yam. Insane. Expect lanterns, mirrored ceilings, sleek booths, and a whole lot of neck-craning. Oh, and good Chinese food, of course. 

Chi Lin (9201 W. Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood) is now open. To make a reservation, visit the listing at BlackBook Guides. 
 
NOW OPEN: ALTITUDE Pool Deck at SLS Beverly Hills
All abs on deck! The rooftop pool at SLS Hotel At Beverly Hills is officially open to guests and locals. Grab a bite from the menu created by Jose Andres, book a cabana, and get all sorts of wet at their new weekend rooftop parties. 
 
ALTITUDE at SLS Hotel is open to the public during the weekdays between 11 am and 3 pm. Reservations are highly recommended and can be made by visiting the hotel’s listing at BlackBook Guides. 
 
TUESDAY: Animal Cracker & Iron Chef Burgers at LA Market Restaurant
In celebration of National Burger Month, celebrity chef Kerry Simon is serving up some creative burgers at LA Market Restaurant to flaunt his street cred. Until May 31st, guests can get a mouthful of his Chocolate Double Animal (Cracker)-Style Burger or reunite with the Iron Chef Burger, which appeared on Food Network’s Iron Chef America. 
 
Both burgers are available at LA Market Restaurant by Kerry Simon until the end of the month. For more information on the restaurant, visit the listing at BlackBook Guides. 
 
Know every inch of this city by visiting BlackBook’s L.A. City Guides

Get Lucky In NYC Every Night Next Week

This is not false advertising. Starting Monday, April 29th, you can get lucky every night of the week, which is a basically impossible feat in NYC (unless you’re a 21-year-old, freckle-faced, college girl majoring in English, with too many evenings free and lots of insecurity issues). For seven days, you can drink unlimited Bombay Sapphire East Gin cocktails with lemongrass and St. Germain mixed by Iron Chef Morimoto, dance to house tunes spun by scruffy, downtown DJs, and gorge on pinched, pillowy, lamb-filled dumplings made by Mission Chinese Food chef Danny Bowien. And while you’re at it, get lucky with any one you meet. The cause: LUCKYRICE, the 4th annual festival honoring all things Asian (that you can chew and sip) all across NYC.

Some stops along the way include a cocktail feast at The Bowery Hotel lead by eight of NYC’s top bartenders and Iron Chef Morimoto, a “Filipino Fiesta” at The James Beard House hosted by chef Leah Cohen of Pig & Khao (which boasts a BlackBook-obsessed, delicious brunch), and a Night Market at The Maritime Hotel, where 20 Asian spots serve their top dishes in bohemian cabanas à la the chaotic, night market experience in Asia.

Intrigued? Excited? Hungry? Then snatch up the last couple of tickets to LUCKYRICE. 

And (ahem), please tweet at me if you get lucky, thanks. 

Follow Bonnie on Twitter here.

Just An Ordinary Weekend At Atlantic City’s Borgata Hotel

I never thought I’d be attracted to a piece of meat. But at 3:25, on an afternoon at Atlantic City’s Borgata Hotel, it happened.

The meat was oversized, blown up on a screen that covered an entire wall of the Borgata’s Music Box theatre, where several hundred people watched the hamburger patty sizzle and sweat in a pan on the stove. Over the patty reigned Geoffrey Zakarian, otherwise known as “the guy who won The Next Iron Chef” or “the cute chef with the glasses.”

With his gift of gab (which he attributes to his mom: “She was bitingly sarcastic,” Zakarian says), the bespectacled chef serenades the crowd at his cooking demonstration with his Italian accents, self deprecation, and meat innuendos. After two hours of cooking a hamburger (“no sauces or spices, it’s all about the meat”), a ginger and golden raisin-inflected coleslaw, and a raspberry soufflé – the crowd was sold – and so were his cookbooks.

Zakarian is the culinary lifestyle consultant of The Water Club, the more luxury hotel branch inside the Borgata resort. And the term “lifestyle consultant” is really just a fancy name for someone who checks in and okays all the activities involving food and drink consumption.

And wowee, did a lot of that happen during my recent stay at the Club. The portions are three times the size of any entrée at most NY restaurants (yep, I’m looking at you, Izakaya’s peanut butter-chocolate-crispy sushi roll) and it’s the options themselves – choosing from the Borgata’s 12 restaurants – where a decisive appetite becomes more valuable than some chips at the poker table.

Lines like shoelaces – full of day-trippers and vacationers craving all-you-can-eat – loop around the corners of the Borgata Buffet, while dinners at Bobby Flay Steakhouse on a Friday and Saturday night necessitate reservations made days in advance. I dined at the resort’s Japanese restaurant Izakaya, and most notably the southern Italian restaurant Fornelletto, and let’s just say it’s inspired this strange dream about a plate of potato gnocchi with sage and brown butter, lifting into the heavens, on top of a dish of their heavenly vanilla ice cream.

But people don’t come to Atlantic City for the food. They come for the party. And on – oh, just an ordinary weekend in Atlantic City – two celebrity DJs were spinning at the Borgata’s mur.mur nightclub and MIXXSamantha Ronson (aka Lindsay Lohan’s ex) and Steve Aoki. So when you pair these two rockstars with the Zakarian visit, the Borgata suddenly becomes an oceanside celeb hub.

But for me, the star of the show was definitely the Immersion Spa, where I headed for some much-needed recovery. A masseuse named Elyssia somehow managed to restore my late-night pancake and vodka-stuffed self into a viable, blissed-out human being. The whirlpool also helped.

Now, I’m not going to tell you to go to the Borgata and stay at, more specifically, The Water Club. I’m all about showing, not telling, of course. But when you are, in fact, looking for a weekend that includes a view of the ocean, celebrities, and really good gnocchi, may you consider the Borgata. It’s the AC experience.

Get all the info on the Borgata’s Water Club hotel here, and follow Bonnie on Twitter.

The Iron Chef Does American Comfort

What’s next for chef Morimoto, aka the original Iron Chef? As of last night, the Japanese culinary master opened his latest venture downtown not with his iconic sushi, but with the aim to serve up an Asian interpretation of classic American comfort food.

The new restaurant is called Tribeca Canvas, and under Morimoto’s guidance the kitchen plans to turn out bistro-style dishes including a macaroni and cheese dish with a poached egg on top, and lamb ragu steamed buns. He also does a bit of Japanese-French comfort food, which you can experience in the Escargot Takoyaki, a take on the ball-shaped Japanese treat that, instead of shrimp or pork, gets stuffed with a delicate snail, herb butter, and dollop of kewpie mayonnaise.

Thomas Schoos of Schoos Design handled the look of the 65-seat dining room, and sought inspiration from the neighborhood. That means you can see Schoos’ ode to Tribeca’s art scene and the area’s origins as a green parkway with the hand-painted trees lining some walls, and the light fixtures that were made with vines and help add a wooded depth to the décor. On the gray leather banquettes, they have bright pink flowers, which contribute a nice splash of color to the forest.

Though they don’t have their liquor license yet due to Hurricane Sandy related delays, when they do you can expect to hit up to the 10-seat bar and sip, nibble, and relax starting at 5pm and going until 4am every day.

Photo via Eater.

Food Network’s Alton Brown on Brooklyn’s Do or Dine and Upcoming TV Projects

Alton Brown, a Food Network personality who has done just about every show out there, is now taking a turn with the network’s latest cooking extravagance, The Next Iron Chef: Redemption. In a quick, 15-minute interview, I talked to the oft-described “nerd” or “geek” of the food television world about the new show (which airs November 4), what he wants to see, his work with Justin Warner of Do or Dine, and why Welch’s makes the best grape juice. Nothing about this man is dull; I just wish I could have gotten 15 minutes more.

I have to say, I am excited about your work with Food Network Star winner Justin Warner. What’s it like to work with him?
We are finally really getting to work on his show. Food Network was great and didn’t rush us into being foolish. I can tell you what the working title is; it’s Justin’s Excellent Adventure. It should get produced around the end of year, maybe in February or March, and it’s going to be prime time on the Food Network. At first, it will be an hour special that may or may not be a series. [Justin] is special and I know it. I don’t want to mess it up. It’s one of those things about being a mentor, screwing up yourself is okay, but screwing up someone else is something different.

What do you think about his restaurant Do or Dine?
I don’t have a lot of business in Bed-Stuy, so when I am there I go all out. As for Do or Dine, I love it. Everything about it appeals to me.

What cooking show would you like to see on the Food Network, or any other channel for that matter?
I have tried out a lot of genres. One of my goals in the last few years was to make every genre of show on Food Network. That’s why I got in on the Next Food Network Star; it’s different from Iron Chef, which is, well, basically a sporting event. Good Eats is a scripted, one-camera sort of thing. I have tried every hat.

As someone who has hosted, judged, and been on so many shows, what are you hoping to gain from The Next Iron Chef: Redemption?
Well, there is redemption for one thing. Redemption is an interesting thing. Here we have a bunch people who have already been in the competitions, so they know what they are getting into. Some got close enough to detect wisps of victory in the air, and others barely were on it. Everyone has something to prove and they are obsessed in a way. There is nothing as interesting to observe as an obsessed character. Then, there is thought of redemption. Proving you can do something that you had failed to do before.

Do you think you are a good fit?
Good fit? I don’t know. I have no idea—that is up to the viewers. [The Food Network] keeps asking me to do it, so I try no t to look that one in the eye. You start asking those questions…eh, you just go do it. But, I know enough about food and cooking, and if you are going to have a competition show about food, there are worst people to have in there. I know a lot and I have been around for every Iron Chef episode.

Aside from The Next Iron Chef: Redemption, what else can we look forward to from you?
I am doing two projects I am gassed about. One is producing Justin’s show, it will be an on the roads of food sort of thing. The other is Foods That Made America, a five-hour series on the foods that allowed America to become the country that it is. Basically it’s historic story telling as we talk about the top five things about how they changed American food. I don’t think food history has been done well. So I am going to talk a shot at it. 

Where did you get the idea to use Post-It notes on your twitter?
I started doing that during Food Network Star, but I don’t remember why. I stared sticking them on TV or computer screens when I was trying to taunt Giada De Laurentiis or Bobby Flay. I would stick Post-Its by their pictures just for fun. As for Twitter, I don’t like the 140 characters impute, so I stared with the Post-Its. I have gone thorough lots of Post-Its.

Ha, do they sponsor your habit yet?
No! They got their own Twitter account that would analog tweet like I did. They even used my name! That annoyed me, so I went off Post-Its and did index cards for a few weeks. But, I missed the Post-Its so I went back. I still just buy them at the drug store like everyone else. Only Welch’s sponsors me, though they don’t pay me to tweet about them. I end up tweeting them just because I have so much juice from them. So I end up tweeting things I make with it, like this cocktail I made with gin, tonic, and grape juice. I have loved it [Welch’s grape juice] all my life. I jumped at the chance to work with them.

It’s kind of sweet…
They don’t add sugar. That is an urban legend. All they do is use real juice. They got eight hours to pick, skin, and seed. Then it gets low pasteurized so it doesn’t ferment.

Wow, I had no idea. That brings me to another stereotype, the food nerd. I have heard you referred to as that. What do you think?
Food nerd? Well yeah, I would be one of those. I would count. If not the king of the food nerds, at least high royalty. I have earned that. People who get into food on the science angle are nerdy. We are different, quirky, and not like everybody else.

Industry Insiders: Chef Ed Cotton, Running the Market

Laurent Tourondel has passed a gastronomically reputable torch to Chef Ed Cotton to run BLT Market, Tourondel’s kitchen of the Upper West Side’s Ritz-Carlton-based restaurant. A fresh blend of market-inspired delights is what this Boston-bred chef brings to the table. After years creating delectable dishes at Daniel and Veritas, as well as working the ovens of the lightening fast-paced Kitchen Stadium on Iron Chef America, Chef Ed’s dishes brings new meaning to your average food shopping at the market.

What do you do as chef de cuisine at BLT Market? I’m in charge of running a kitchen with a crew of 12 people. I do all of the ordering and purchasing. I try to find the freshest ingredients and produce. I run service and control the pass. The pass is where the tickets come in, so I can call out the orders, orchestrate them, and then assemble everything on the plates.

How do you go about designing the menu? Laurent and I meet every season and go over what foods are in their peak for that time of year, their availability, and what’s cool. One of us will have gone out to dinner, and we’ll say, “I tasted this great cheese, and it’s from Hudson Valley, and I want you to try it.” We try to find local farmers who are really passionate about their products. We go over the menus and discuss every detail together. I listen to him and he listens to me until we come up with something.

Describe the cuisine of BLT Market. French/American bistro. The name of the restaurant is BLT Market, so it’s definitely market-driven.

What is your favorite dish on the menu at the moment? Right now, I’m doing a house-made spicy lamb sausage with broccoli rabe, pomodoro sauce, and rigatoni. I like making pastas. That dish is brand new, so I’m really excited about it.

What sort of clientele frequents BLT Market? Tony Bennett comes in here a lot. We have a large amount of the Ritz-Carlton hotel guests who come down from their rooms too. Mainly, it’s the Upper East Siders.

How’d you get your start in the restaurant business? I’m a second-generation chef. My father graduated from same culinary school as I did, the Culinary Institute of America. He was an executive chef outside of Boston while I was growing up. So, I basically grew up in the kitchen.

What was the first restaurant you worked in, in New York City? I worked for a lady named Patricia Yo who owned two restaurants, AZ and Pazzo. It’s ironic because now those two restaurants are BLT Fish and BLT Steak.

How’d you get your position as sous chef to Cat Cora on Iron Chef America? When I was cooking at Daniel years ago, a good friend of mine who was working for Iron Chef told me Cat was looking for a replacement. I emailed my resume to Cat’s assistant, and literally 15 minutes later, they called and said, “It looks great. Do you want to meet Cat?” I met with her and have been on the show now for three years

What’s it like cooking on television? After watching the show for such a long time, to actually be in Kitchen Stadium was kind of weird. I was like, “Wow, I can’t believe I’m actually here.” I was super nervous the first time, but then you get used to these guys running around with cameras while you’re cooking, and cables all over the place. I’m really comfortable with it now.

Favorite restaurants in New York? After work, I like to go to Landmarc in the Time Warner building because it turns into an industry hangout after my working hours. There are so many people that work late that go there. They have a great wine list. I also like going to Nougatine at Jean Georges for lunch. It’s a great deal, and the food is super tasty and awesome.

Who do you admire in the industry? Guy Savoy. He’s a very well-known chef, and he is super-talented. I had the privilege of eating at Guy Savoy in Las Vegas with my old boss Daniel Boulud, and it was a really memorable meal.

What are some positive trends that you’ve seen recently in the hospitality industry? The food styles keep changing. The way food styles keep evolving is the reason why I moved to New York from Boston. There are so many different restaurants. I don’t know if that even answers your question, but it’s true.

Any negative trends? Everybody is doing molecular gastronomy. I do respect it, and I’ll even use a little of it. But as far as using powders and chemicals, I’m not a fan of it.

What is something that people might not know about that goes on in the kitchen of a restaurant? Before service we always get together to talk and brief each other about what is going on that night, like how many reservations there are and how many are VIPs coming in. Here at BLT, between the front of the house and the back of the house, we always have a little pre-meal staff meeting to try and let everyone in on what’s going on.

What do you do for fun when you aren’t in the kitchen? When the weather is beautiful, I’ve been going to Central Park for the whole day and just hanging out and relaxing. Also, I obviously like to go out to dinner a lot.

What advice would you give to aspiring young chefs? I’d say you have to really, really love it. You can’t just wake up one day and say, “I think I want to be a chef.” It really has to come from the heart. You were born with this feeling that cooking is what you want to do. Young aspiring chefs should understand you’ve got to work a lot of long hours, and it’s hot in the kitchen. But you know what? If you really want it, absorb all of that and just do it. Have fun and don’t get discouraged. Keep asking questions and always listen to people with experience. Be a sponge.

What’s your dream spot for a project? I’m torn between NYC and Boston because I really love to be challenged, and New York is definitely a challenging city. Restaurants open and they close, they open and they close. But I could go back home to Boston where it’s a smaller scene, so it might be a bit easier to have a successful restaurant. I just want a cool, funky, straightforward restaurant that serves well-executed food. I want it to be fun and not pretentious with a great wine list. I’d say French/Italian food with handmade pastas. A very industrial-looking place instead of soft seats and plush leather.