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Capital Food Fight Recap: Testicles, Batali Backrubs, Hitler Jokes and More

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Judges Padma Lakshi and Andrew Zimmern with hosts Anthony Bourdain and José Andrés
Judges Padma Lakshi and Andrew Zimmern with hosts Anthony Bourdain and José Andrés

[Photos: Amy McKeever/]

Last night, celebrity chefs and chefs from about 70 local restaurants gathered at the Ronald Reagan Building for the annual Capital Food Fight benefiting the DC Central Kitchen. Congrats go out to Vidalia/Bistro Bis chef and owner Jeff Buben for demolishing the competition in the chef battles, judged by the likes of Andrew Zimmern, Padma Lakshmi and Carla Hall. Hosting the event were DC's own José Andrés and his buddy Anthony Bourdain, whose job was basically to keep up the one-liners and raise a whole lot of money for a good cause. And that they did, raising $600,000 last night for the DC Central Kitchen.

While the night's big news was the announcement that founder Robert Egger would be leaving DCCK for Los Angeles, here are hangover observations from a night of zings and testicle comparisons.

1) During the introduction of the judges, Andrés interjects: "This is for my friends that told me, 'You cannot bring Padma.' All right, I did it. $10,000, each one of you. Remember, you lost your bet."

2) Zimmern complained to Bourdain for leaving him alone over at the Travel Channel, resulting in the following exchange: Zimmern: Why did you leave? You left me all alone there. You know how horrible it was. And you just left me there. And you're my friend. Bourdain: And you're the only guy left on that network that can get to eat nut sac. Jose Andres explains it all: This man over here left the Travel Channel and he has joined CNN. That means he's going to be drinking with Anderson Cooper around the world. And now Andrew Zimmern, he's alone on the Travel Channel. Do you get it? This is catastrophe. I don't know what Romney will say about this. Or what President Obama is going to do about it. Zimmern: It's not that bad. I am sitting there left in the room while everybody's outside having another drink and smoking a cigarette. It's a lonely feeling. Bourdain: You'll have to join me in the Situation Room. We'll put a few pounds on Wolf Blitzer.

3) Initially, the crowd gave only a tepid applause for the sous chefs, prompting Andrés to yell: A big round of applause for the sous chefs. They are actually the ones that cook, OK?

4) While Bourbon Steak's Adam Sobel prepared his dish, Andrés gave him a hard time: "You know, this man was cooking for Mr and Mrs Obama three or four days ago. And I heard you got into trouble for posting the menu, but we'll talk about this later." Cuba Libre's Guillermo Pernot went on to defeat Sobel in Round One.

5) Just as in last year's Capital Food Fight, Bourdain talked shit on "those complete idiots in California" who banned foie gras and appreciated that DC has not taken such measures. Zimmern explains: "This is a town where feasting on engorged parts of your fallen comrades is commonplace. This is foie gras ground zero."

6) What are some of the things the judges do behind the scenes on Top Chef? Per Padma: "Shining Tom's head."

7) Padma also admitted to having been the one to make the judges their traditional gin & tonics in the first season of the show, but says: "Now that we've won an Emmy we have people for that."

8) And just how drunk on gin & tonics are the Top Chef judges? Bourdain: "So when you finally at the end of the long process, say, 'Pack your knives and go,' you're fucked up, aren't you?" Padma: "I'm pretty fucked up. ... Nine seasons and I've managed to say it without burping."

9) Before leading the audience in the birthday song, José Andrés introduces competing chef Jeff Buben: "So people of America. In this room, we have one of the most amazing chefs competing right now. When I arrived in Washington 20 years ago, he was that person that welcomed me and welcomes every new chef to Washington with open arms. That person is one of a kind, one of the best chefs doing Southern cooking in Washington, in America: Jeff Buben." Buben then went on to defeat Elisir's Enzo Fargione in Battle #2.

10) Bourdain offers Zimmern choice between lamb testicles and a Cinnabon. Zimmern: "Lamb testicles every day of the week because at least I know where they're from."

11) That devolves into a conversation about the size of animal testicles, with Bourdain noting lamb testes are "like the size of papayas" and Andrés reminding Bourdain and Zimmern that "We have kids in the audience." So then Zimmern shows everyone a photo of squirrel testicles that he conveniently keeps in his phone.

12) Bourdain on the Aspen Food and Wine Classic auction, with "cooking demonstrations by industry masters like Mario Batali, who I'm sure would be happy to give you a long and lingering backrub, based on personal experience, and Jacques Pepin, who basically invented cooking as we know. ... If Jacques Pepin says that's how you roast a chicken, that is how you roast a chicken."

13) In another attempt to sell the Aspen auction, Bourdain promised, "You get Mario Batali to sing Tiny Dancer to you in a falsetto while wearing a speedo." Also noted during the auction portions, Carla Hall continues to have a backup career possibility as an auctioneer.

14) In a "surprise" competition, Bourdain and Zimmern face off, with Bourdain threatening to "pound you as my prison bitch."

15) Padma: "Somebody get Tony a knife. I can't believe I just said that."

16) Some shit talking from Zimmern: "As much as I would love to say that I had no idea Tony and I were cooking tonight, we knew we were cooking tonight. But the fact that they could even get iguana stateside is a tribute to the global pantry here in Washington, DC. And as someone who has cooked this and eaten it before, I don't want to say I think we have an advantage, but I'm going to say we may have a little advantage."

17) A rain of boos from the ladies in the audience fell upon Zimmern for pointing to the iguana and saying: "That is the best piece of tail I've seen in DC."

18) Bourdain talks shit to Mike Isabella about his stint on Top Chef: "What you did to pasta on that episode Hitler did to Poland."

19) Andrés, watching Bourdain cook the iguana: "Look at the way he uses a knife. No man has ever used a knife in the way he uses a knife. ... I'm falling in love with his hands."

20) Zimmern and Bourdain both make egg dishes with their iguana. Zimmern: "What are the odds that two 50-year-old New York City bozos like us would both make stoner breakfasts?"

21) Using the iguana as a ploy to raise more money for the DC Central Kitchen, they auction off bites to audience members for $1,000. Then the audience votes by applause, with a big win for Bourdain. Padma declares: "Age before baldness."

22) Another unique auction? Oh, just asking some guy to pay $1,000 to eat a piece of Ibérico ham off of Padma Lakshmi's collarbone. Related, Zimmern said at one point: "Half the guys in this room have to be alone when your TV commercials are on."

23) Vidalia/Bistro Bis chef and owner Jeff Buben is announced the winner of the event and gets the red boxing gloves for his birthday. More birthday singing.

24) After the main event, Andrés was spotted drinking from the porron at the Estadio/Proof table.

25) The industry after-party was held at Graffiato, but Andrés brought Bourdain, Zimmern, Lakshmi and a few others to Jaleo for paella and more drinks.

· DC Central Kitchen's Robert Egger Announces Departure and Plans to Launch LA Kitchen in 2013 [-EDC-]
· All Previous DC Central Kitchen Coverage [-EDC-]


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