Burning Questions

NBC News' Kelly O'Donnell explains how a perfect "power lunch" is similar to a first date meal.

Jul 28, 2010

Bravotv.com: What were you expecting when you sat down at the table?
I skipped breakfast on taping day knowing we'd taste the cheftestants' dishes, but oh my goodness, I was not prepared for such a parade of fine dining. It felt like enough food to last two weeks all at one sitting. Beautiful plate after beautiful plate was presented, and by the end we had dined on more than a dozen "power lunches." We realized after meal three, four, or maybe it was meal five that we needed to pace ourselves to sample it all.

Bravotv.com: When you think of a successful “power lunch” dish, what comes to mind?
A good power lunch is kind of like a first-date meal, it should something easy to eat with little risk of getting messy and looking silly.

Bravotv.com: What do you usually eat for lunch? Both power and otherwise?
Usually lunch is a turkey sandwich carefully balanced on the keyboard. A power lunch favorite is a nice piece of fish or small filet.
 
Bravotv.com: What are you favorite “power lunch” hotspots in NY, D.C., etc.?
Equinox near the White House, Charlie Palmer on Capitol Hill, and The Source at the Newseum to name a few.
 
Bravotv.com: How was the overall experience?
While covering politics can be a reality show of its own with all the crazy running around and tight deadlines, my visit to Top Chef D.C. was just plain fun, and we weren't the ones scrambling. Being there in person, I could appreciate how hard the competitors worked and honestly did my best to be a fair guest judge. When a couple of plates had turned cold, I didn't think that was the necessarily chef's fault so it was pretty easy to overlook.
 
Bravotv.com: Have you been watching this entire season? Do you have a favorite yet?
I have been watching. On taping day, we did not interact directly with the contestants, so it's been very interesting to learn about their kitchen personalities and rivalries. Since a number of contestants had already "packed their knives" before our challenge, it was great to see the whole cast. I even had a few light bulb moments when I could figure out how styles of cooking and favorite flavors from those earlier episodes found their way to our plates. Not naming names, but I am rooting for a few chefs.