Pressure Cooker

What do you get when you mix American Idol and Iron Chef, stir in a healthy portion of The Restaurant and Survivor, and garnish with a smidge of The Apprentice? Cooking Under Fire, a reality show from PBS affiliate WGBH Boston that promises to put 12 aspiring chefs through their paces in a series of culinary contests. Scheduled to take place in L.A., Las Vegas, Miami, and New York, the show’s challenges—which might require contestants to incorporate regional cuisine into a meal, pair food and wine, and/or craft a menu on a very tight budget—will winnow the dozen finalists to a single, superior foodsmith. His or her reward? The chance to work at a Manhattan eatery owned by chef and restaurateur Todd English (also a co-host of the program and one of the judges), whose many holdings include Seattle’s Fish Club. According to WGBH publicist Jennifer Welsh, this Friday’s local auditions—at the Art Institute of Seattle (2600 Alaskan Way), from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.—involve both an interview and a brief demo segment. Auditioners are urged to bring an ingredient or cooking implement that allows them to show off their chops. Applications, downloadable at, may be turned in at the audition; Cooking Under Fire debuts April 27 on PBS.

Plastic zap

Back in September we warned you about using plastic containers—even the ones frozen goods come in—to heat food in your microwave. Dangerous chemicals can be released in the process. Now there’s an urban legend making the rounds alleging that freezing liquids in plastic containers can do the same thing. Not so, says Rolf Halden of Johns Hopkins School of Public Health; but he also says that the problem with microwave heating of plastics is a genuine one. Read all about both issues at

Proud to be proggy

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is handing out Proggy prizes (progress prizes) as a way of recognizing animal-friendly achievement in areas ranging from producers and marketers of vegan food to companies promoting respect for animals in books, music, and film. And now one of our own Seattleites, Vice Cream cookbook author Jeff Rogers, has been awarded his very own Proggy for his admirable efforts at publicizing healthier and more animal-friendly alternatives to the typical ice cream that all of us love to consume. In his cookbook, Rogers has managed to create rich and creamy vegan ice creams while using all nonanimal ingredients. Flavors ranging from the basic chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry to more interesting flavors like pecan pie, vegg nog, black forest, and strawberry colada.

Casing the joint

Last week, Carlos Kainz announced that he had installed a third wine-storage case at Dulces Latin Bistro, the restaurant he operates with his wife, chef Julie Guerrero. The big question for fans of the cozy Madrona eatery: Where’s there room for another 500-bottle wine-storage case? Don’t worry, says Kainz, you won’t even notice the change unless you’re sitting in the private dining room—or until you notice that the wine list is now 36 pages long and features about 1,400 different bottlings. Wine Enthusiast is about to tag Dulces with its Award of Ultimate Distinction in February, so maybe Kainz won’t feel it necessary to install a fourth wine cooler anytime soon.

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