A Culinary Institute of America grad, Spike Mendelsohn has honed his skills in some of the finest kitchens in France,Vietnam, California and New York. But his experience on “Top Chef” inspired him to open a restaurant that a wider audience could enjoy. In just over a year, his hamburger hot spot has won national awards and attracted a loyal following—including two visits from Michelle Obama and her daughters.
When he’s not manning the grill, Mendelsohn unwinds with fiancé Alyssa Shelasky, a correspondent for People, in their lofty Capitol Hill apartment. Shelasky has decorated their home in a “mid-century look without getting too offbeat,” with furniture from Crate & Barrel, quirky art and Craigslist finds. Their favorite late-night comfort dinners include pasta putanesca, pan-fried chicken with lemon or, if they’re too tired to cook, deli sandwiches on bread baked by Shelasky.
Mendelsohn, who has appeared on “Good Morning America” and “The View,” won’t rule out another TV gig. “I loved my experience on ‘Top Chef,’” he says. “I want to give it another run.”
Michael Ventura is a photographer based in Silver Spring, Maryland.
CAN’T COOK WITHOUT
Butcher block cutting board; deep sink; pasta machine; Mac knives; KitchenAid griddle that he uses for everything from pancakes to meatballs.
ALWAYS IN FRIDGE
Lemons, cheese, pasta sauce, Dijon mustard.
Mendelsohn’s Prez Obama burger (horseradish mayo, red onion marmalade, crumbled Roquefort and Applewood smoked bacon on a potato bun) won Rachael Ray’s New York City Burger Bash in 2009.
His new restaurant, We, The Pizza, will open next door to Good Stuff Eatery in February 2010.
SPIKE MENDELSOHN'S FAVORITE RECIPES
This is a great side dish with chicken, fish or just on its own.
3 bags spinach, washed
1 large onion chopped
1 bunch fresh parsley, chopped
2 small cans tomato sauce
¾ cup white rice
salt and pepper
In a saucepan over medium high heat, sauté onions in olive oil until translucent. Add spinach and sauté a bit more. Add rice, tomato sauce, parsley, salt and pepper and 1½ cups water.
Cover and cook over medium heat. Stir occasionally and add more water if needed. Cook until rice is tender. If mixture becomes too watery, cook uncovered for a bit at the end.
Fresh Roasted Chicken, Greek Style
¼ cup salt
½ cup pepper, ground
3 sprigs fresh oregano
½ cup crushed fresh oregano
½ cup olive oil
½ cup lemon juice
3 to 4 pound whole chicken
Onion, cut in quarters (if you want a stronger flavor)
Preheat oven to 375.
Wash chicken and stuff cavity with onion cut in quarters and sprigs of fresh oregano.
Pour olive oil over chicken, add salt and pepper.
Pour lemon juice and crushed oregano over chicken.
Bake in oven until done, about 1 hour.
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