Viewers who tune into John Harris' reality-TV debut this Saturday, Nov. 15, may remark that Lilette's chef-owner didn't enter show biz in your typical young, talented, celebrity chef kind of way. On Switched!, which airs on ABC Family at 7 p.m., he's not a chef at all but rather a singer-performer and a father (or is that mother?) to someone else's children. Calm down, Lilette fans; this isn't an identity crisis. The show's premise is to film two strangers trading lives for four days; Harris swapped with Chrysta Bell, who lives in Austin, Texas. According to Harris, "hilarity ensues."
The city's chefs and restaurateurs receive more national attention in this month's Travel & Leisure magazine. New Orleans ranked No. 2, behind only New York City, in the magazine's 2003 readers' poll. The magazine interviewed John Besh, chef at August, about his favorite food finds. His spot-on answers credit many of our small businesses and ethnic groceries. He praises Martin Wine Cellar for its deli and artisinal cheeses; Kim Phat Oriental Food Store in Gretna and the Pho Tau Bay restaurant next door; Mona's, where he buys rose flower water and pita bread; Mid-City's Latin American Union Supermarket, for its pork cracklin' and ropa vieja; and the Crescent City Farmers Market, specifically the milk and Creole cream cheese from Mauthe's Dairy.
Sante, a magazine for restaurant professionals, honored Bombay Club as one of North America's top restaurants at its 2003 Sante Restaurant Awards. Bombay Club was among six bar/restaurants nationally to receive this year's award. Sante flew owner Richard Fiske and seven friends to California to celebrate.
Meanwhile, man-about-America John Mariani names Bourbon House one of the country's best new restaurants in November's Esquire magazine. Chef Jared Tees accepted the honor last month at a private party in New York City.
In belated local media food news, the October issue of New Orleans Magazine featured Muriel's Jackson Square executive chef, Erik Veney, as Chef of the Year. Veney seems to have pulled Muriel's out of its unsteady newborn years. His menu is a mildly innovative take on Creole food, including dishes such as poached oysters in rosemary cream, turtle soup au sherry and redfish amandine layered Napoleon-style with sweet pea mashed potatoes.