E and M: Those of you who read us might guess we’d be particularly delighted by the news that the Magical Elves who produce Top Chef are considering having the next season of the show in Boston. What could be better? They’ve done New York, Chicago, Miami, San Fransisco and the entire state of Texas; can they really go ten seasons without coming here?
So, with that possibility in mind, here are just a few ideas for sites and challenges that the producers can use (we can provide great specifics if you want to chat, Tom Colicchio!). There are plenty more, but we decided to trim it to *only* our top 25:
1. Boston hospitals. Boston is know around the world for its top notch hospitals – you could serve cancer patients at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Mass General, Tufts Floating Hospital, or new mothers at Brigham and Womens or Beth Israel. You could get local figures who fundraise for those units, like Cam Neely with Tufts, involved. Which brings us to…
2. … and maybe we should have put this first – Sports. Between the Sox at historic Fenway Park, and the Patriots and the Celtics and the Bruins, the Beanpot college hockey tournament, the Boston Marathon, and the Head of the Charles regatta, you have so many possibilities, it beggars the imagination.
3. How about the first great American foodies…. the Pilgrims! Because of them we have an entire holiday dedicated to food, Thanksgiving. Plus, you can try Plimouth Plantation or Old Sturbridge Village for authenticity if you’d rather film a historical (and not holiday based) episode.
4. Did we mention yet that Boston is a college town? BC, BU, Harvard (and Harvard Square), MIT, Northeastern, Tufts, Emerson, UMass Boston, and about 50 others. There could be challenges to serve in food in the dining halls, or even cook in the dorms like Hubert Keller memorably did on Top Chef Masters. Serve the students, serve the faculty, serve at one of the many fantastic events these colleges hold. Parents weekend, Homecoming, dances, graduations, sporting events, you name it. The possibilities are once again endless.
Let’s start the run on some of the world’s best seafood:
5. The answer is Ipswich Clams! From chowder, to clam bakes on the beach, to contestants digging or shucking clams themselves, to some of the great local clam shacks – The Clam Box, The Clam Shack, Farnhams, Woodmans, Tony’s. North Shore, South Shore, the Cape, Nantucket or the Vineyard… Take your pick!
6. Lobster. While some people in Australia may disagree, the best lobster in the world is found off the coast of northern New England.
7. Cod. Heck, we’ve got an entire region of Massachusetts named after it, and a “sacred” one hanging in the State House!
9. Boston’s North End. A region of the city still populated almost entirely by Italians and Italian-Americans, it is home to some of the best pastries, cafes, Italian restaurants and, most entertainingly, festivals you will ever find.
10. Dunkin Donuts. ‘Nuff said.
11. Ice cream. We eat more in New England than anywhere else in the U.S., and are home to the likes of Hood, Friendly’s and Brighams. Tying back to #1, in June we even have the ScooperBowl, a fund raiser for the Jimmy Fund where 15 or so makers of tasty frozen treats descend on the Government Center plaza for three days to give away all you can eat of their wares for a small donation.
12. History. We already mentioned the Pilgrims, but in case you don’t know anything about Boston, our impact on history doesn’t exactly stop there. From the original Tea Party, to Fanieul Hall or the Freedom Trail. From Paul Revere’s ride to the Adamses – John, John Quincy and….
13. Samuel Adams. Bearing his name is the micro-turned-macro brewing company that kicked off the explosion in craft brewing in the U.S. There are several other great breweries and brew pubs around town, like Harpoon and the Boston Beer Works.
14. Or if you’re more interested in Art, how about Springfield’s own Norman Rockwell? Visit his museum, and craft food that’s expressive of classic Americana.
15. Then we’ve got New England Renaissance. You could use classic American Literature to inspire dishes (The House of Seven Gables, The Scarlet Letter, Moby Dick, Walden, Civil Disobedience, Little Women, etc..), or follow Arthur Miller up to Salem for Halloween.
16. Great local chefs like Todd English, Jody Adams (a Top Chef Masters alum) and Ming Tsai, chefs who started out here like Emeril, and Top Chef alumni like Tiffani and Ed.
17. The Boston Common and Public Gardens. One of the best public parks and meeting areas in any major city, replete with Swan Boats and statues, including those of the ducks in the children’s classic Make Way For Ducklings, and right off it is the bar that inspired Cheers.
18. Boston Cream Pie and Boston Baked Beans. These are obviously treats, but believe it or not they’re not nearly as big a deal for locals as they are for tourists. Still, they are both fun and tasty.
19. St Patrick’s Day. This is actually just as big for locals as it’s made out to be, and is actually a holiday in the city limits. Plus, trying to make a boiled dinner that actually tastes good is sure to be a daunting challenge!
20. The legendary Julia Child’s Cambridge kitchen. One of the greatest and most beloved chefs as well as TV personalities of all time would make for a fitting subject for a Top Chef tribute.
21. Local celebrities. Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. Mark and Donny Wahlberg. Steve Carell and John Krasinski. Dennis Leary and Lenny Clarke. Leonard Nimoy. Aerosmith. Conan O’Brien and Jay Leno (which might be a particularly fun pairing these days). Should we go on? No, let’s transition to….
22. Movies and TV. We already mentioned Cheers, but that is by no means the end of the entertainment industry’s delving into Boston. From current shows like Fringe and Being Human, to Oscar winning movies like Good Will Hunting and The Departed. Not to mention The Town, Mystic River, Boston Public, Boston Common, and just about everything Stephen King wrote, to name just a few. If fiction can have such a large presence here, shouldn’t “reality”?
23. Fine arts. From museums (the MFA, Isabella Stuart Gardner, etc), to the Boston Ballet, to Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops; what are fine arts without fine dining to match?
24. Locally grown produce. Depending on the season there’s a wide variety of fantastic choices. From picking strawberries, blueberries, apples, peaches or pears, to heading to the patches for pumpkins and squash, or into the fields in the rows (and on many farms mazes) of corn.
And there it is, just a few thoughts on how Boston would make a really exciting season for the best reality show competition on TV. Come on, Bravo – make the trip! We promise it’ll be worth your while.