Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Foodventures: Made for Television

Living in LA, film and television touches on many aspects of the city culture, including food. Will and I love to watch TV programming about food, especially on the Food Network and Bravo so it's always pretty exciting to find restaurants or food trucks that we see on TV in our very own neighborhood, sometimes just down the street! When you are watching Top Chef or Iron Chef don't you ever just wish you could just get a taste of those scrumptious-looking delicacies the contestants are serving up to the judges?

It's always an interesting experience when we actually get to taste the food we see on TV. Will and I are lucky to live in a pretty central location in LA close to TLT Food (Great Food Truck Race Season 2 winner), Seoul Sausage (Great Food Truck Race Season 3 winner), Sushi Central (Throwdown with Bobby Flay winner), and The Foundry On Melrose (Chef Eric Greenspan from The Next Iron Chef)...just to name a few.

Some have been hits and others have been misses. But I think the most heavy miss thus far would have to be Stefan's at LA Farm. We followed the last season (10) of Top Chef and were surprised when Stefan Richter popped up again after finishing as runner-up back in season 5. He has the sort of personality that is pretty much "made for TV": confident (ego), outspoken (no filter), and plenty of attitude. Makes for interesting television...but food? hm.

We chose Stefan's at LA Farm for Dine LA a few months ago because we were still in the middle of the Top Chef season and as annoying as he can be on TV, it was undeniable that he's got talent. The 5 course menu also looked very promising. But in short, we were very disappointed.

Yes, we saw Stefan running around in his restaurant and taking pictures with the patrons several times that night (who was in charge of the kitchen during this time? we wondered). He looked just like he did on TV. But the food was a different story. Nothing was terrible about the meal, per se, it just didn't live up to our expectations of the excitement his cuisine seemed to evoke on Top Chef. Perhaps it was an "off-night"?

We swallowed (literally) our sub-par experience and moved on. I nearly forgot about the whole evening, (it left that bland of an impression on us) until recently when I rediscovered some photos I took of the food that night. Were these the same dishes that left us yawning? Because it actually doesn't look half bad! Quite pretty actually, just the way it was on TV.

Looks pretty decent right? An unfortunate instance when the food did not taste as good as it looked. I guess that's the power of presentation. I remember a judge on the cooking competition show Chopped always saying "We eat with our eyes first". Definitely makes me question now the food that always looks so amazing on TV.

But this doesn't mean that I've given up on restaurants featured on television altogether--  Craft (Tom Colicchio judge from Top Chef) and Tripel (Brooke Williamson last season Top Chef runner-up) are still high on my list of places to try. Hopefully we'll have a better experience next time!

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