August 26, 2010 | by William George
What’s on the menu as summer dining scene fades

If you’ve ever found yourself at a formal event wondering which course you’re on or which fork to use, D.C. restaurant The Caucus Room (401 9th St. NW) is hosting an event to help you overcome your fears. On Sept. 13, Alexandra Kovach and other members of the Caucus Room staff are offering a three-course dinner to provide diners with a tutorial on proper ordering etiquette, flatware usage and a simple approach to appropriate dinner conversation. Intended for those who either need a refresher course on business etiquette or those whose table manners are in dire need of an overhaul are invited to attend. Cost is $59 per person and the seating is at 7 p.m. Business attire is suggested. Contact Cristina Cravedi in special events to reserve your place at the table, 202-393-3223.

Washington Chef Geoff Tracy of Chef Geoff’s has a new book on the horizon focusing on the importance of nutrition in children. “Baby Love,” available Aug. 31, highlights techniques for preparing meals for children ages 6 months to 18 months old using less processed, more organic ingredients for a fraction of the cost of jarred baby food. Co-authored with his wife, MSNBC chief correspondent Norah O’Donnell, “Baby Love” teaches the new generation of health conscious parents how to make two weeks worth of baby food in less than an hour per week, “even if you’ve never cooked a day in your life.” The book is available at Amazon.com.

For those of us trying to dodge the influx of super calorie meals on the go, there’s a new player on the scene. Freshii, a new health food quick service eatery in Dupont Circle (20th and M streets, N.W.) offers a variety of healthful alternatives at accessible prices. Since its doors opened in April, Freshii has steadily gained a foothold in an area where foot traffic abounds, already serving close to 40,000 customers. Menu items include burritos, wraps, soups and salads, along with a formidable breakfast selection and a fat-free, probiotic yogurt bar to calm the sweet cravings. The most innovative feature of the Freshii website is a calculator that allows you to build your own entrée and keeps a nutritional tally as ingredients are added or subtracted. It’s perfect for those of us who really want to see the difference in fat content between feta and blue cheese and how it will affect those pesky calories we all seem to be counting. (freshii.com)

Four weeks remain in this cycle of food competition mainstay “Top Chef,” and it seems as though Chef Alex Reznik’s luck has finally run out. Following the infamous “Pea-gate” scandal at The Palm, Reznik skated past elimination during a tumultuous Restaurant Wars by running the front of house for the winning team, yet not ostensibly preparing a dish for service. Despite the efforts of Chefs Kevin Sbraga and Kenny Gilbert to get Reznik eliminated, the judges decided that the rules of the competition would be upheld and that Reznik would be allowed to stay simply by virtue of his being on the winning team. Chef Gilbert, thought to be a favorite to win the competition, was in turn told to “pack his knives and go.”

However, the next week’s challenge, set at the CIA headquarters in Langley, Va., proved to be Reznik’s proverbial Waterloo. After a dismal performance in a quickfire challenge judged by molecular gastronomist Wylie Dusfresne, Reznik utterly failed at the elimination task dubbed “Covert Cuisine.” The challenge was to take a standard dish and prepare it in such a way that it was unrecognizable at first glance, but unmistakable upon tasting. Sleeper powerhouse Chef Tiffany Derry of Beaumont, Texas won with a deconstructed Greek gyro consisting of a roasted leg of lamb served with smoky eggplant, tomatoes and pickled onions. Chef Reznik’s version of veal parmesan was marred by poor execution and faulty ingredient choices. Head judge Tom Colicchio even went so far as to say that he had eaten better food “out of a box.”

It goes to show that in the end, there’s no worse karma than kitchen karma. This week, the chefs take on running a concession stand at Nationals Park. (bravotv.com)

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