Fantasy Top Chef

As many of you know, the season premiere of “Top Chef All-Stars” airs this Wednesday on Bravo TV, and I’m chomping at the bit. Not only because I’ve followed every season so far and I’m pumped to see so many familiar and talented chefs return, but also because I’m taking over the role of Top Chef re-capper here at Food and More.

Though the future Mrs. Watson indulges me on many of my food related pre-occupations, after a few years of making her watch TC with me every week we decided to make it interesting.

I mean, why just watch TV when you can also gamble on it, right?

Thus, Fantasy Top Chef was born. At the beginning of the season, each player drafts a team of cheftestants and every week your players earn points according to how they perform.  All that is left to do after that is to set your wager. Both seasons that we have played, the loser owed the winner a nice dinner out.

Obviously, that didn’t bother the person that lost both times too much (me), so feel free to change it up if you want that loss to sting a little more. Or you can just do it for pride, if wagering isn’t your thing.

This game is great for a couple of reasons. First, if you have a non-foodie significant other, this can be a great way to get them involved. And for those of you that couldn’t read between my trying-not-to-sound-too-sexist lines there, I’ll break it down: Ladies, this is a good way to get your boyfriend/husband to actually care about this show and watch it with you.

It definitely gets you more invested in the show, which makes it more fun. You get a little more heated when there is something on the line. Trust me, if you think that Robin from Season 7 – or “dead weight”, as I called her – pissed you off, just imagine how it would have felt if she was costing you a $150 dinner at Craft.

There are 18 chefs on this season, so the ideal numbers of participants should be 2, 3, 6, etc. Should you find yourself with an odd man out, you can drop the last contestant(s) to be picked from the game completely, draw straws, or dole out some compensatory points.

Here is the breakdown of the suggested points system, but don’t be afraid to play around with it. I’ve had friends try this with a points scale for comments made about their food or specific behaviors – i.e. your player loses a point if their dish is too salty or if they cry on camera – but that can get a little confusing.

Point System:

+3 Win Quickfire

+5 Win Elimination Challenge

-5 Packed their knives and went (eliminated)

+2 Top 3 of elimination challenge

-2 Bottom 3 of elimination challenge

+ 10 Making it to the final 3

+ 15 Top Chef winner

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Burger hunt – Muss & Turner’s

Let’s get one thing straight: I’m not interested in the burger “craze”. I’m interested in burgers.

Honestly, every time that I write the word “burger”, I can feel the snark boiling up inside myself. Like many of you, I’ll be glad to see the craze die down so that this dish can lose the sense of cliché that it has developed as of late and return to what it has been for the last 100 years: Just plain awesome.

They’ve been popular for a long time – yes, even before there was a Shake Shack in New York – and once the bandwagon hopping fervor has calmed, they will remain one of our favorite dishes.

Some of you may remember that John Kessler began a burger search earlier this year that evolved into his “Burger of the week” segment. Thanks to over 200 comments from our readers, John was armed with more potential burgers to try than one man could hope to get through. However, duty called and John moved back to the head of the reviewing table, and now this charge should pass on to little ole’ me.

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How to Make a Turducken

Without question, Thanksgiving is the best holiday of the year. By a long shot.

Every November I get my absolute favorite present: food. Piles upon piles of rich, heavy, delicious food. I’ve heard that there is some “friends and family” jazz involved, and something about the pilgrims, but I’m usually too distracted by gravy boats and sweet potato casserole to notice.

In my household, we generally alternate between two kinds of bird every year – either a deep fried turkey or the meaty behemoth, the turducken. So, when the opportunity arose to document the creation of one of these multi-layered frankenfowls, I leapt at it.

No, seriously. I leapt…as in “jumped up and down.”

Some of you may remember John’s post about the “meat theme park” known as the Douglasville Retail Meats and Smokehouse back in ’09. Well, owner Dave Widaski now has a new location in Acworth by the name of Findley’s Butcher Shop, and its turducken making season.

Rather than re-hash all of John’s previous sentiments about the place, I’m just going to focus on the bird(s). However, I loved this place and I can see why John did too. The meat selection is impressive, specifically their array of all things sausage, and the staff is extremely friendly.

For those unschooled about the wondrous turducken, here are the Cliff’s Notes: A chicken stuffed into a duck, wrapped in a turkey, with layers of stuffing in between. Queue the copious drooling.

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America’s Top Dog – Chamblee

Ahhh…Hot Dogs. Just thinking about them takes me to the way back when of my younger days.

The hot dog is a staple of the childhood experience for many Americans. Perhaps you ate them at little league games. Maybe your Mom used to microwave them for you at lunch every day in the summer. Or you could have been one of those poor kids who ate them boiled and cut into tiny pieces because your parents didn’t trust you to chew your food without choking.

However you had them, there is something distinctly red-white-and-blue about these tubes of mystery meat. Young or old, we love our hot dogs.

Well, Atlanta has a new hot dog headquarters, and these ain’t your momma’s wieners.

Open for less than 2 months, America’s Top Dog in Chamblee serves up some serious dogs. Offering all-beef Sabrett’s, spicy red hots, or “Obama’s Favorite”, the half-smoke, this place is a hot dog lover’s dream. Granted, these aren’t the fancy pants house-made franks you can get at some of the more expensive places in town, but we all know that isn’t necessary to have a damn good dog.

The first thing that you need to decide when ordering at ATD is do you go for the do-it-yourself 35-item topping bar, or do you go for their custom loaded “regional dogs”?

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