5@5 - Chef Melissa Perello
January 26th, 2011
05:00 PM ET
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5@5 is a daily, food-related list from chefs, writers, political pundits, musicians, actors, and all manner of opinionated people from around the globe.

If your trip to the local farmers market sounds a little something like this:

"To market, to market, to buy a fat fig! Dagnabbit ... where's that produce stand we like again? Wait - you're out of figs? B-but, but, but what are we supposed to stuff with the goat cheese we just bought? The recipe calls for figs! FIGS! Ohhhh, the humanity! Dinner is ruined!"

... Then, you might need to (1) take a Xanax, and (2) re-evaluate how you shop for food - which is why we've enlisted the guidance of a farmers market regular.

Meet your friendly tour guide: Melissa Perello is the executive chef and owner of Frances Restaurant in San Francisco, California, which was nominated in the "Best New Restaurant" category by the James Beard Foundation in 2010 and awarded its first star in the 2011 Bay Area Michelin Guide. Perello has also be named one of Food & Wine magazine's "Best New Chefs," as well as a James Beard "Rising Star Chef" nominee three years in a row.

How to Get the Most of Your Visit to the Farmers Market: Melissa Perello

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Filed under: 5@5 • Farmstands • Food Politics • Local Food • Think

Olives are the pits if you're Dennis Kucinich
January 26th, 2011
04:45 PM ET
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Dennis Kucinich is no fan of pit-filled olives – and now he's doing something about it: Taking one of Congress' cafeterias to court.

In 2008, the Ohio Democrat purchased a sandwich wrap filled with those olives at the cafeteria inside the Longworth Office Building. After biting into the wrap, he cracked a tooth, according to the legal complaint.

Now he has come forward with a $150,000 lawsuit against the cafeteria – run by Restaurant Associates and other groups – for providing "dangerous" sandwiches.

Our BFF Ed Hornick has the rest of the story at Political Ticker, but before you skip on over, frequent Eatocracy contributor Wes Little sez:

All I'm going to add is that as a person who consumes a large amount of olives, OF COURSE the olives with pits are always superior. But that doesn’t mean you can put them in a wrap. Kucinich has a case. If you’re going to put a pit-in olive in something it has to be visible. Even then it's dicey. The best solution from a culinary point of view is to get whole pit-in olives and pit them right before making the sandwich, but this might be too work intensive for most operations.

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Filed under: Hot Messes • Weird News

Chefs and the (other) "F" word
January 26th, 2011
04:30 PM ET
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Jennifer Wolfe is the Supervising Producer of the CNN Entertainment Unit. She previously reported on the outing of Los Angeles Times food critic S. Irene Virbila.

A good friend of mine from Atlanta is a former pastry chef turned attorney. Clancy and I frequently talk food. We also cook together and when it comes to the culture of the restaurant kitchen, I lean on her for guidance. As a hardened veteran, Clancy doesn’t blush at colorful language, so I was a bit surprised when she blanched at the “F” word.

“Why?” I asked.

“Because chefs HATE foodies!” she said emphatically.

I thought that was a pretty strong assertion, “Really? Chefs hate foodies?”

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Filed under: Chefs • Restaurants

Blogger Spotlight - Food for the Thoughtless
January 26th, 2011
02:30 PM ET
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We're highlighting local and regional bloggers we think you ought to know about. We can’t be everywhere at once, so we look to these passionate eaters, cooks and writers to keep us tapped into every facet of the food world. Consider this a way to get to know a blog’s taste buds, because, well, you should.

Meet today's featured bloggers and blog:
Who: Michael Procopio, of Food for the Thoughtless
Where: San Francisco, California
Twitter: @procopster

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Filed under: Blog Spotlight • Blogs • Think

Lunchtime poll - Does Taco Bell's beef blending bug you?
January 26th, 2011
12:15 PM ET
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The Volcano Burrito isn't the only thing getting Taco Bell executives hot under the collar these days. As we mentioned earlier today, a class action lawsuit claims that customers are misled by the chain's practice of representing to consumers that its restaurants serve "seasoned ground beef" or "seasoned beef" filling in its products, when the percentage is actually around 35 percent.

The company's President and Chief Concept Officer Greg Creed is 100 percent cheesed off, posting on Taco Bell's website that:

"At Taco Bell, we buy our beef from the same trusted brands you find in the supermarket, like Tyson Foods. We start with 100 percent USDA-inspected beef. Then we simmer it in our proprietary blend of seasonings and spices to give our seasoned beef its signature Taco Bell taste and texture. We are proud of the quality of our beef and identify all the seasoning and spice ingredients on our website. Unfortunately, the lawyers in this case elected to sue first and ask questions later - and got their "facts" absolutely wrong. We plan to take legal action for the false statements being made about our food."

Said ingredients include water, isolated oat product, salt, chili pepper, onion powder, tomato powder, oats (wheat), soy lecithin, sugar, spices, maltodextrin, soybean oil (anti-dusting agent), garlic powder, autolyzed yeast extract, citric acid, caramel color, cocoa powder (processed with alkali), silicon dioxide (anti-caking agent), natural flavors, yeast, modified corn starch, natural smoke flavor, salt, sodium phosphate, less than 2% of beef broth, potassium phosphate and potassium lactate. Is your mouth watering yet?

It's not as if the chain's use of the terms "beefy" and "taco meat" are anything unusual in the food world. "Chocolatey," "cheesy," "cheese food" and other non-regulated descriptors are used to skirt legal technicalities all the time in the wild, woolly world of food marketing. When it comes to this particular legal beef, though, are you cowed?

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Filed under: Business and Farming News • Buzz • Fast Food • Lunchtime Poll • Taco Bell

Box lunch
January 26th, 2011
12:00 PM ET
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Sink your teeth into today's top stories from around the globe.

  • From deciding whether to park your tush in a booth to dealing with automatic gratuity, a handy-dandy guide to minimize the awkward moments when dining out. - Eater

  • The ugly side of antioxidants. - Newsweek

  • Flava Flav might just bring the soul back to fried chicken. - TIME

  • I can haz cheeseburger-flavored water? - AOL News

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Filed under: Box Lunch • News

Compressed avocado at a hush-hush White House luncheon
January 26th, 2011
11:00 AM ET
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Our pals at The 1600 Report have the dish on who sat where at the "hush-hush" lunch President Obama hosted for television anchors before he delivered yesterday's State of the Union speech - and that fishy smoked salmon joke.

On the menu: compressed avocado salad with onions, greens, yellow pepper and goat cheese, breaded fish with risotto and vegetables and for dessert, as CNN was told, a "chocolate brownie-like cupcake thingy with warm chocolate over it."

We're still hunting down Wolf Blitzer, who was in attendance (along with the creme de la creme of broadcast news) to get slightly more specific than "thingy," but we suspect he may have a few more (com)pressing issues to chew on.

The 1600 Report has the full scoop on the seating arrangements

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Filed under: President Obama • White House

January 26th, 2011
10:00 AM ET
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Does the mention of a Flying Dutchman, a Neapolitan shake or "animal style" fries get your stomach rumbling? Deanne Goodman, a frequent iReporter from Carlsbad, California, visited a local In-N-Out burger and sampled some of the items on the chain's "secret menu".

Got a great food story to share? Upload it through iReport and we just might feature it.

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Filed under: Business and Farming News • Buzz • Fast Food • iReport

January 26th, 2011
09:30 AM ET
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