UPDATED: Giada is right. Giada told Endless Simmer’s Russell Warnick that Top Chef Alum Mike Isabella planned to open a new restaurant in Georgetown. Simmer’s Stefanie Gans (gansie) called Isabella for confirmation. He denied it. Turns out, the scoop was meant for Washington Post’s dining critic Tom Sietsema and the restaurant is actually in the works.
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This past weekend DC hosted the 6th annual Metropolitan Cooking and Entertaining Show, a collection of salsas, olive oils and oddly, British cashmere scarves. Not only is it an opportunity for small businesses to present their products to the masses, it’s also a chance for your favorite celebrity chefs to hawk a few books. Guy Fieri was presented to 2,500 military spouses by Dr. Jill Biden while Paula Deen pimped out her Caribbean cruise and Smithfield Ham. The envy of every straight guy out there, I got to speak with Giada De Laurentiis, and yes, she’s as hot in person as she is on TV, even with the cold she was suffering at the time.
Giada spoke of her time cooking for Prince William and Kate, what she’d cook for Bill Clinton and a little gossip about DC’s very own Mike Isabella…
Giada has had a big year. During Prince William and Katherine’s recent summer visit to the US she had the honor of cooking for the Royal couple and confesses she was a little starstruck: “I catered the VIP lunch for about 700 people…It was crazy, it was an exhilarating time. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to top that — who can I cook for that would top Prince William?”
Actually, the only other person Giada wishes she could cook for is Bill Clinton. With disappointment in her voice, she laments him becoming a vegan but says she still has a dish he’d love to eat: “I have wonderful lentil Swiss chard rolls, they sound like they’re too healthy, I’m telling you they’re fabulous. They’re baked in the oven with a little tomato sauce and they’re spectacular so I might make him that.”
It’s almost a given that when a celebrity chef comes to DC they’ll be asked where they go to dine in the city, and here’s what Giada had to say:
“We went to this restaurant, Graffiato. I had the most amazing meal by Mike Isabella. I just didn’t know that much about Mike as I usually go to Jose Andres’ restaurants, but I wanted to try something new and he blew me away. That to me is a fabulous experience, the pastas were phenomenal. We had unbelievable gnocchi with black truffles… Mike had told me he had never made Italian [as a professional] before. He grew up with an Italian grandmother and didn’t want to bring up those feelings. He did a lot of Spanish, what Jose does. I told him, dude, you should have been doing this from the beginning. He blew us away.”
During dinner at Graffiato, De Laurentiis picked up a bit of DC gossip, telling us, “Georgetown needs some better food gosh darn it, and I hear that Mike’s gonna open up a place there, a Spanish/Mexican food place. It’s at a place called Hook…The ink isn’t signed yet — you can call it a rumor.”
The space De Laurentiis is referring to is Hook, a once-popular DC sustainable seafood restaurant that fell victim to a fire back in June of this year and has since remained closed. Isabella, however, flatly denies the claim: “No, no, that was misinterpreted. I don’t have anything signed. It was a miscommunication.” Isabella further explains that he’s behind in writing recipes for his book, which is keeping him plenty busy. Plus, “I wouldn’t do a Spanish/Mexican concept,” he laughs off. “It’s not true. The only thing I have is Graffiato.”
Additional reporting by Stefanie Gans