Test Kitchen Returns, With a Fantastic Chef Line-Up

Photo by juan tan kwon

When Test Kitchen debuted in the fall of 2010, the food world -- even outside L.A. -- went nuts for it. The restaurant-less chefs, such as Walter Manzke, that held residencies there were often the kind of bold-faced names that inspired swooning from food lovers. And Test Kitchen introduced both Picca and Sotto, still two of L.A.'s hottest restaurant tickets.

On the other hand (there's always another hand), it did sometimes seem as though the organizers were scrambling to fill every night. There were a lot of repeats, and some nights the stoves were taken over by cooks holding a less than platinum pedigree.

But it was an experiment, and can be forgiven. This year, they've had time to plan. And everyone should just put on their eating pants now.

The kickoff dinner is to be cooked by Rocco DiSpirito, a chef who is often the butt of jokes, but none of them about his cooking abilities. That's on October 1 at Sotto, the original Test Kitchen location. After that, it moves downtown to the location that will, at the end of the run, turn into the much anticipated Bestia. But until November 11, the space will host luminaries such as Gino Angelini, Jason Travi, Micah Wexler, Nancy Silverton, Neal Fraser, Walter Manzke, and our very own KCET Food star Kevin Van. (Notably missing: Ricardo Zarate, the star of the first one. One could assume he's just busy. One could assume.) Michael Cimarusti will preview Connie & Ted's, and Neal Fraser will do the same with his still-unnamed Vibiana project.

On the rumor front, we hear that Mondays and Tuesdays will host cooking competitions, head-to-head events where sous chefs from restaurants like Hatfields, ink, MB Post, and more will be judged by diners, Chopped-style. Also, Mario Batali might show up. Maybe. He commands quite a salary, but if we all smile winningly in his direction, we might get lucky.

Save up your pennies. This one's worth it.

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