Eye Candy: Tony Mantuano and Friends

Tony Mantuano and his Spiaggia crew pose for a photo with student volunteers from the French Culinary Institute and the Institute of Culinary Education in the Beard House kitchen. The chef, who will compete in the champions round of Top Chef Masters next month, prepared a dinner to celebrate Spiaggia's 26th year in the business. To see more photos from Mantuano's event, click here. Want to rub elbows with the best and brightest of the culinary world? Click here to find our student volunteer application.

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On the Menu: Marcus Samuelsson

While it remains to be seen if Marcus Samuelsson will carry the day in the champions round of Top Chef Masters, one thing about the JBF Award winner is certain: he's sure to put out a fantastic meal at his 18th (!) Beard House appearance this Wednesday. In a departure from his signature Scandinavian fare, Samuelsson will showcase surf-and-turf dishes from his first foray into Chi-Town dining, C-House Fish and Chops. Check out the menu below: Hors d’Oeuvre Quail Eggs with Deviled Ham Fingerling Potatoes with Pleasant Ridge Reserve Cheese Oyster Shooters with Spring Peas Sweet-and-Sour Bacon Dinner Rushing Waters Smoked Rainbow Trout Rillettes with Radish Salad and Cornmeal Crackers Werp Farm Speckled Romaine Salad with Pickled Rhubarb, Sweet

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Eat this Word: Pain Perdu

WHAT? Leftover loaf. To make pain perdu, or "lost bread," stale slices of baguette or brioche are revived by a soak in an egg and milk bath and then browned in butter until crisp. We know it as French toast in the U.S., but versions of this custardy concoction can be found throughout most of Europe. In Portugal, the dish is called rabanadas; in Spain, families tuck into honey-coated torrijas; and in England the strangely named "poor knights of Windsor" has been a delicacy since the 17th-century (when it was often doused in wine and finished with almond milk). Pain perdu's origins are unknown, but a similar recipe appears in the writings of Roman chef Apicius from the first century A.D.. Today, New Orleans chefs have claimed pain perdu as their own, adding cinnamon and vanilla to the egg mixture and serving the dish with a sprinkling of powdered sugar and a dollop of jam

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Eye Candy: Mango and Pineapple Carpaccio

Pastry chef James DiStefano, who fashions balanced and stylish desserts at New York's Rouge Tomate, prepared this striking dish at a Beard House dinner earlier this month. It featured mango and pineapple carpaccio with matching sorbets, coconut tapioca, macadamia cake, and coffee molasses. Click here to see more photos from Rouge Tomate's event.

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Eat this Word: Fiddleheads

WHAT? Fern believers. A seasonal green available for only about two weeks in spring, fiddleheads are actually the young, tender shoots of "cinnamon," "brake," or "ostrich" ferns. The tightly coiled, immature fronds can be eaten raw or gently cooked, and have a taste likened to a cross between asparagus, green beans, and okra. The shape of the coil echoes the shape of the scroll of a violin or fiddle, hence the name. The season is over once the fiddleheads uncoil into full-fledged fronds. WHERE? Linton Hopkins's Beard House dinner WHEN? May 5, 2010 HOW? Hickory-Smoked Pepper-Crusted Rib-Eye and Braised Short Ribs with Appalachian Ramps,

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On the Menu: From the Hearth

If you’re a fan of Jim Lahey’s famous bread or Neapolitan-style pizzas, you're in luck: the dough maestro himself will be cooking at the Beard House tomorrow night, and his menu, which includes some of his signature breads, is after the jump: Hors d’Oeuvre Deep-Fried Veal Meatballs Arancini Morels and Thyme on Stirato Cannellini Beans and Pancetta on Stirato Pane Casareccio Dinner Olive Oil–Poached Artichoke Salad with Arugula, Parmesan, and Lemon Vinaigrette Asparagus Sformato with Shaved Asparagus, Guanciale, and Pane di Comune Roasted Suckling Pig with Kumquat Marmalade and Spring Onions Braised and Grilled Baby Spring Lamb with Ramps and Cannellini Beans Strawnoffe

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Eat this Word: Banoffi Pudding

WHAT? The proof is in the pudding. This creamy-and controversial-concoction was invented in the early 1970s at the Hungry Monk restaurant in Jevington, a town in East Sussex, England. In an attempt to create an easy, foolproof toffee dessert, chef Ian Dowding boiled condensed milk for a few hours to make a soft toffee, which he poured into a shortbread crust and topped with a layer of bananas and coffee-laced whipped cream. The Hungry Monk's owner, Nigel Mackenzie, came up with the name, which is a portmanteau made up of its two main ingredients-banana and toffee-and can also be spelled banoffee, banoffie, or bannofy. After the recipe's appearance in The Deeper Secrets of the Hungry Monk cookbook in 1974, the dish became a dinner party staple. Banoffi pie eventually gained such popularity that several British supermarket chains created

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Eye Candy: Old Fashioned

A bartender prepares an Old Fashioned using 12-year-old reserve bourbon from the Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery. The cocktail was served at a Beard House event that featured top chefs from Kentucky. To see more photos of the Bluegrass State–themed dinner, click here.

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Eye Candy: Escargot with Garlic–Herbsaint Cream

Finished with a garlic and Herbsaint–flavored cream (the latter is a brand of anise liquor that was originally produced in New Orleans as an absinthe substitute), these escargot were a true taste of Crescent City cuisine. Brian Landry, who helms the century-old Galatoire's, served them during the reception that preceded his Beard House dinner. Click here to view more photos of chef Landry's dinner.

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Eat this Word: Cavatelli

WHAT? Shapely pasta. Few Americans understand either the regional diversity of food in Italy or the pride that Italians take in their cuisine. Take these little, handmade pasta curls, for example. Made from a stiff dough of semolina and water that is traditionally shaped on a wooden work surface by curling it with the tip of a butter knife, cavatelli are claimed by the Molize, Puglia, and Abruzzo regions of Italy. The dough and the shaping technique are similar to those used for orechiette, but the shape is closer to gnocchi. Cavatelli (or cavatieddi in Apulian dialect) are traditionally served with cooked bitter greens, such as arugula, and tomato sauce. WHERE? Duskie Estes, John Stewart, Justin Everett, Janine Falvo, and Bruce Riezenman's Beard House

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