I self-imposed a moratorium on Top Chef blather some time ago but this bears passing on: last night while we were working our way through an occasionally puzzling series of fish plates at the new Marcus Samuelsson vehicle C-House, my tablemate noticed something eerily familiar about the quiet young Asian woman shadowing our waiter. She was training, but he kept deferring to her on culinary questions (he couldn’t ID amaranth on the plate–but she nailed it). We finally figured out this was Dale Levitksi’s pal Sara Nguyen from season three, the one sent home (robbed) after tussling with sweaty Howie in a catering cart.
This is a woman whose first kitchen job after culinary school was at Thomas Keller’s Per Se. What was she doing working the front of the house? Biding her sweet time, it turns out. Nguyen explained that while waiting for Levitski to finally open his West Loop spot Town and Country–where he’s tapped her for sous chef–waiting tables was the best way for her to pay the rent, since no one seemed to want to hire a chef who was only going to bolt in a few months. Samuelsson, who could have been checking his other traps in Stockholm, Tokyo, or NYC, was nowhere to be seen. But he might do better here to pull Nguyen into the kitchen while she’s waiting (review to come).