palaceballroomsidewalk.jpg
Bravo TV
How well did the Top Chef production team familiarize itself with what makes Seattle Seattle? In this recurring column , we gauge how

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Top Chef: Seattle Takes on Pickles, Pots and Public Transit

palaceballroomsidewalk.jpg
Bravo TV
How well did the Top Chef production team familiarize itself with what makes Seattle Seattle? In this recurring column, we gauge how fairly the previous night's episode represented the city -- and correct misconceptions viewers elsewhere might form based on the show.

1. We always share our pickles.

Portlandia catch phrases notwithstanding, the Pacific Northwest no longer has the monopoly on amateur pickling: Housemade pickles are as common as bread-and-butter at restaurants from San Diego to Boston. But the products of pickling and fermenting are granted special status in Seattle, which led the nation in community gardens per capita even before the city last month announced the creation of 185 more P-Patch plots.

The additional acreage translates into lots of vegetables in need of preserving, but it's not just green thumbs who've gone gaga for the process: Diners can snack on pickled peaches at Marche, pickled carrots at Essex, pickled cauliflower at Bitterroot, pickled strawberries at Madison Park Conservatory, pickled mushrooms at Crush and pickled burdock at Poppy. Although last night's episode barely ventured beyond the Palace Ballroom's front door, the acknowledgment that the competing chefs needed to do better by the city's pickles was a fair nod to Seattle's culinary proclivities.

2. Palace Ballroom has plenty of pots.

According to the venue's webpage, amenities available to users of the 6000-square foot space include a podium, cordless mikes and a dance floor. There's no explicit mention of the flat-bottomed pot which John Tesar claimed he needed to produce a proper risotto. But the Ballroom is regularly used for tastings and dinners which presumably require a range of equipment: This month, the Tom Douglas-owned hall is hosting a beef demonstration and a Robert Burns supper, featuring sticky toffee pudding, goose breast and haggis with neeps and tatties, a savory suet, oatmeal and organ dish that's about as close as Scottish cooking comes to risotto.

3. Could Top Chef restage the infamous aerial gondola challenge on a Metro bus?

Between scenes last night, Top Chef ran B-roll of bikes and buses. Those images aren't too removed from what folks see every day in Seattle, where a significant percentage of commuters choose to not travel by car. Of workers who live in Seattle, 19 percent travel by public transit and another 17 percent walk, bike or work from home.

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