A rendering of Bart Blatstein’s Provence casino.
One of the things that struck us about Bart Blatstein’s Provence casino proposal from the day it was announced was the function the casino would perform. Of course, it’s the largest single element of the project, but both from its placement (above the street-level restaurants and shops) and the facilities attached to it (a concert venue and rooftop shopping village), it almost seemed the casino was an appendage needed to make all the other goodies possible.
Since that grand announcement party almost a year ago, the other projects vying for the city’s second casino license have largely evolved in the Provence’s direction. Market8, the closest in concept at the start, enlarged its hotel and added more street-level variety. Casino Revolution tacked on a theme park of sorts. And so on.
Blatstein’s introduction of two star chefs for the Provence more or less confirmed our view of the project. It’s not that casinos lose money; if they did that, there wouldn’t be five bidders competing for one casino license. Rather, it’s that the casino is no longer the biggest moneymaker in such projects.
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Photo of the chefs with Blatstein (center) by Sandy Smith
Two star New York chefs whose restaurants sparked neighborhood revivals, Tom Colicchio and Andrew Carmellini, will establish operations in Philadelphia as part of developer Bart Blatstein’s proposed Provence casino-entertainment complex.
Blatstein introduced the pair at a short press conference in a tent atop the parking garage at 15th and Callowhill streets that will fall to make way for the casino and its accompanying shops and restaurants should the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board award the second and last casino license in Philadelphia to his project.
Both Colicchio and Carmellini have track records of opening outstanding restaurants that serve acclaimed cuisine.
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Tom Colicchio and Andrew Camellini with Bart Blatstein | Amanda Laura
If Bart Blatstein lands Philadelphia’s remaining casino license he will bring two nationally known chefs to town. Bart Blatstein told the assembled media at the North Broad Street site of what he hopes will be his Provence Casino that Tom Colicchio and Andrew Carmellini will open restaurants in the complex.
Tom Colicchio, who is known for hosting Top Chef and his Craft restaurants hints that he will be doing a steakhouse that will utilize local farmers for produce and beef as well. He added, “I have a few steakhouses already but I want to do something different, something unique for Philadelphia.”
As for Andrew Camellini, who has six restaurants in New York and Miami, the James Beard winning chef is leaning towards an Italian restaurant. Despite the French name of Provence, the chef is thinking Italian Riviera. “It’s not far from where my family is from, so I think that’s where I’m headed to draw inspiration from.”
Each chef has time to nail down their concept as the gaming board isn’t expected to announce a winner of the second Philadelphia casino license till later in 2014.
For more on Blatstein and the Provence Casino, check out Property.
So this is it. The big finale. The big reveal. And in order to do justice to this momentous occasion, we here at Foobooz HQ decided to do this recap as a game of sorts–a prognostication contest, a jeu de TV wherein Fidel Gastro (who has been recapping these shows since the start of the season and growing progressively weirder, crazier and more terrified of Eric Ripert as the weeks went on) would, on the eve of the broadcast, give a “pre-cap” of the episode. Basically an educated guess at how things would finally shake out during each stage of the well-rehearsed dance that is a Top Chef finale. Then I, your humble editor, would take Fidel’s work and compare it to how things actually happened during the broadcast.
Sounds simple? Well that’s where you’re wrong…
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…with some Asian cooking for your mother@#kin’ mouth?
That’s right. Beverly Kim’s power of positive thinking has put her in the same category as cockroaches and the gangs of L.A.. She’ll never die. Given the option, she’d probably multiply. For now, one Bev is enough to outcook Grayson in the Last Chance Kitchen, earning her a spot back in the Regular Chance Kitchen, and costing Gummy G a pack of smokes, a banana, and early onset wrinkles from making “please die” faces at the annoying little wood sprite.
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Austin. Home of SXSW, the Salt Lick, Vince Young’s alma mater and, now, 10 cheftestants whose first task is to elude a chainsaw-wielding maniac wearing a dead skin mask (Texas Chainsaw Massacre fans, raise your hands). Who would win that Quickfire? Probably Ed Lee, because he’s secretly a ninja. Unfortunately, the actual Quickfire is a bit more boring, but not totally uncreative. The guest judge, Patti LaBelle (really?), is sleeping in, so Colicchio makes a rare early morning appearance to announce that the cheftestants will be making dishes based on the tweets of a bunch of fake Twitter handles.
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Off to Dallas we go with 14 chefs left.
Some cheftestants continue to fly way under the radar (who the hell is Whitney Otawka?), while others–those with big personalities, strange tattoos or blog-ready backstories–just plain big hog all the camera time. That’s just TV, though. The drama, whether real or manufactured, is the grease that makes the wheels go in the moments when no one is cooking or getting tanked in the Stew Room.
So what’s the best way to get to the home of the NBA Champion Mavericks? A shiny Toyota Sienna, of course, dropped onto the set by the product placement fairies and equipped with a navigation system that will direct you to a road closure, naturally. On the way, we learn that the Better-Looking-Chris used to be 70 pounds heavier. No wonder he’s obsessed with image–something he reminds us of once again when pointing out Guest Judge John Besh’s beautiful hair and teeth.
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Last night I attended the Vetri Foundation’s Great Chefs Event at Urban Outfitters headquarters in the Navy Yard. The star-studded event raised a boat load of money for Alex’s Lemonade Stand. Culinary luminaries from around the country showed up to lend a hand for the event.
I’m a pretty laid back guy who probably was last in awe of someone when I met Wayne Gretzky when I was 12. But I was pretty geeked up for this event and as Marc Vetri said, why wouldn’t I be. Great chefs, TV stars and great chefs who are TV stars were at every turn. And as exciting as that is, getting to try bites from some of the best restaurants around the country in one place is an opportunity I recommend to everyone. Save a dollar a day and you’ll be in with cab fare home next year.
After fasting for the day I was ravished when they I was finally unleashed on the stations I couldn’t help but head right to the Shake Shack station. The temptation to try one of the first burgers served in Philadelphia just seemed like the journalistic thing to do. The gooey cheese and great proportions will make Shake Shack a happy addition to the Philadelphia burger scene.
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