Tuned In

Reality Contestant Makes Good (Pickles)

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I linked the other day to a New York Times feature on former Top Chef contestants working (or not working) at restaurants in NYC. In it, I learned to my surprise that New Zealander Mark Simmons was the chef at Get Fresh, a restaurant / specialty foods store in Park Slope, Brooklyn, a mere block from my house, where I had never yet eaten. Clearly this was a professional failing I had to rectify. 

For those of you skeptical about the talent of competitors on Bravo reality shows, surprise: at least one former Top Chef contestant can really cook. Mark, if you’ll recall, won the Quickfire Challenge involving ingredients purchased from a Chicago greenmarket, which made him well-paired for Get Fresh, whose menu focuses on local, seasonal ingredients. Which of course is an overused catchphrase in food today, but Get Fresh actually seems to mean it. 

Mrs. Tuned In and I shared appetizers of house-made pickles (radishes, fiddlehead ferns) and sauteed ramps (which are basically kind of a wild super-scallion available for a short time in the spring). My entree—fresh ham with a potato gratin and charred greens—was succulent and, at $15, a bargain by the neighborhood’s standards. All this without Tom Colicchio to put the fear of God into him!

That said, business was sadly slow for a Saturday night; hopefully the restaurant-goers of Park Slope won’t eliminate Mark faster than the judges did. (Also: “Get Fresh”? Good name for a mouthwash. Bad name for a restaurant.) 

Sadly, I neglected to take photos (bad blogger! must document boring minutiae of life more!), which means I’ll need to return for lunch with a camera. Also, I neglected to identify myself as a critic or in any other way endeavor to scam free food, but I must be able to expense the meal now that I wrote about it, right? You’ll vouch for me? And bonus question: which former Top Chef contestant would you most want to cook for you?