Yesterday was all about "Top Chef" - starting with walking in the office in the morning and hearing Al Roker tease a live TC segment coming up on "Today". I grabbed Frances Berwick and bolted 50 feet to the Today Studios to say hi to Tom, Harold and Ilan. The Today Show kitchens are phenomenal. I'd say they were the best I've seen but in thinking about it... the "Top Chef" kitchen in Miami was FANtastic, as was the one Martha Stewart used on her "Early Show" appearances when I was there... so it might not be the BEST, but I don't think we're doing a "Top Kitchen" show anytime soon so it doesn't matter.
So, the Today kitchen is great and it is always fun to see our Top Chefs cook. The kitchen was classed up by the presence of Tiki Barber in the studio, which was exciting. He is shorter than I thought, but later in the day I got a Tiki-lesson from "Runway" producer (and blogger) Michael Rucker, who told me among other things that Tiki was the shortest running back in history or in 2005 or... I don't know what Rucker told me really I just know we discussed it. And I know it was fun meeting Tiki and that he could not be cooler.
The purpose of my visit was to say hi, but I wound up busting Harold for mumbling the name of his restaurant. It is "Perilla" in case you agree with me that Harold mumbled. We all need to remember that name and it bums me out that every time he says it on TV, he mumbles it. Maybe it's just Harold's mom and I that notice this stuff. (And maybe the mom doesn't notice it at all.)
When I left the studio, I regretted not saying something to Ilan about his wearing a t-shirt on the Today show. Even I -- who have worn flip flops on the Today Show -- think wearing a T-shirt on the venerable AM institution might be crossing the line. Maybe chef-iquette dictates differently regarding t-shirts and I don't know wtf I am talking about. Plus I wasn't there to lecture Top Chefs. I revisited my lecturing last night when Frances Berwick and I had dinner at Perilla with "Runway" and "Chef" EP Dan Cutforth. The restaurant is still super hopping and fantastic. Harold stopped by, nubby pencil over his ear. I raised my concerns again about his mumbling and he hightailed it back to the kitchen. Still, I was bugged by my letting Ilan off the hook about the t-shirt!
I didn't have to keep my frustration bottled up, because moments after Harold left our table, season 2's winner walked into Perilla, wearing said t-shirt! I told him my concerns that the t was not am-apropos and that he shoulda dressed better for such a prestigious appearance. He said he wished I'd told him that BEFORE he went on the show and that no one really told him what to wear. Upon further discussion, he revealed that he even asked someone and got "whatever" as a response. When I think about it, as long as he's a great cook - and he is - maybe it doesn't matter what he wears. The food at Perilla was amazing, by the way.