Tom Colicchio On Tatyana Telnikova's Decision to Change Craft Art Bar Name: "Wise"

Categories: Food Fights

Celebrity chef and restaurateur Tom Colicchio at a charity event. | DC Central Kitchen

Consider these two very different restaurateurs. The first is Tatyana Telnikova, small-business owner, proprietress of the quirky and beloved HandleBar in the Grove, Russian immigrant. The other is Tom Colicchio, star of TV's Top Chef, pioneer of the New York restaurant scene, and owner of the wildly successful Craft Restaurant family, which includes twenty locations of the sandwich shop 'Whichcraft, CraftBar, CraftSteak, and his flagship establishment in Manhattan, called simply Craft.

Last week, Telnikova changed the name of her highly anticipated new Cherokee Street venture from "Craft Art Bar" to just "Art Bar." She did so after realizing that Colicchio has a history of defending his trademark on the word "craft" -- in the past he has sent cease-and-desist letters to restaurants in California, Wisconsin and even to nearby Edwardsville, Illinois. They've all backed down and changed their names.

"For lack of a better word, the guy's just being a bully and throwing his weight around," she says. "In no way would 'Craft Art Bar' hurt his business."

We wondered what Colicchio himself would say to that, so we called Craft in New York. And by gum, he called us back.

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Craft Art Bar on Cherokee Street Changes Name to "Art Bar"

Categories: Food Fights


Craft Art Bar, an innovative, art-space-meets-speakeasy coming to 2732 Cherokee Street this spring, has been one of the most hotly anticipated new hangouts in St. Louis. But some people, upon hearing its name, were anticipating something else -- a cease-and-desist letter from celebrity chef and restaurateur Tom Colicchio.

Colicchio, of Top Chef fame, owns Craft, CraftBar and CraftSteak, along with other restaurants under the umbrella name Craft New York. And he has not been shy about defending his legal right to the word "craft." His attorneys leaned on restaurants in San Francisco, Wisconsin and, locally, in Edwardsville, Illinois, for names like Crafthouse (now Caskhouse), Craft Table & Tap (now Craftsman Table & Tap) and Craft Chophouse (now 1818 Chophouse).

So local observers had to wonder: Would "Craft Art Bar" suffer the same fate?

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Jennifer Garner Loves Imo's

Categories: Food Fights

Jennifer Garner when she found out Jimmy Kimmel dissed Imo's. | Screenshot

St. Louis is getting a lot of celeb love lately. First, our hometown favorite Jon Hamm defended Imo's Pizza on Jimmy Kimmel Live! and even did a taste test. Jimmy Fallon stopped by Crown Candy Kitchen during his comedy tour, and we thought perhaps he could be the late-night foil to Kimmel's Imo's bashing. But wait! Another celebrity contender has entered the ring.

KTVI's (Channel 2) Kevin Steincross was interviewing Jennifer Garner about her new movie Dallas Buyers Club in LA when he brought up Kimmel's distate for our local dish. Garner, to our surprise, had a very visceral reaction.

See also: Jon Hamm Defends Imo's on Jimmy Kimmel Live! (VIDEO)

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Gut Check to Battle "Mouth of the South" Dale Boone Saturday in T Mo's Fried Taco Eating Contest

Categories: Food Fights

       The Morales family in front of T Mo's Tacos. Left to right: wife Michelle Morales,
       daughter Jada Morales, mother-in-law Judy Myers, daughter Michaela Morales,
       son Jordon Myers, Todd Morales and father-in-law Larry Myers. | Todd Morales
Todd Morales grew up eating his Mexican grandmother's fried tacos at home. Two years ago he opened T Mo's Tacos (the name comes from Morales' childhood nickname), a taco stand in Bethalto, Illinois.

On Saturday he'll be laying down the taco hammer with a professionally sanctioned fried taco eating contest at the 50th Bethalto Jaycees Country Fair (213 North Prairie Street, Bethalto, Illinois).

When we heard about the event, Gut Check had only one thought: Where do we sign up? We are, after all, a professional eater. True, we don't typically deal in volume -- excluding tequila (and Budweiser) -- but eating is eating, right?

The fried taco being somewhat unfamiliar to these parts, we asked Morales to fill us in (as it were) as to what we'll be ingesting on Saturday.

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Dirt Cheap Party Sweep Complete With Booze and Giant Chicken Coming Soon

Categories: Booze, Food Fights

There's something to be said for a Saturday afternoon spent glued to the television as over-exhuberant moms and their thrifty pals ran willy-nilly through the aisles of a grocery store, grabbing everything they could fit in their carts in a minute and a half. The nail-biting drama of Supermarket Sweep is just missing from cable television these days.


Luckily for St. Louisans, Dirt Cheap Liquor (8455 Gravois Road, Affton; 314-351-7714) is bringing this great American pastime back at its second annual Dirt Cheap Party Sweep. Unfortunately, Gut Check missed the deadline to apply to be one of the lucky sweepers. The good news is the Party Sweep is somewhat of a spectator sport, so we don't have to miss all the action.

And did we mention there's a giant dancing chicken in a tie-dyed shirt?

We didn't? Well there is. And she's glorious.

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A Twinkie by Any Other Name Would Taste As Sweet

Categories: Food Fights

Image via
Little Debbie Chocolate Cupcakes and Cloud Cakes.
On a recent expedition to Shop 'n Save (7355 Manchester Road, Maplewood; 314-644-2908), Gut Check was heartened by the realization that recent seismic shifts in our personal snack-cake tectonic plates are not as soul killing as we'd originally feared.

What, you ask, was the sight that so warmed the Gut Check cockles?

Why, the generously appointed display of Little Debbie Chocolate Cupcakes and Cloud Cakes, twin dead ringers for Hostess Cup Cakes and Twinkies.

Read more:
- Hostess files for bankruptcy
- Hostess to shutter St. Louis plant

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PETA Has Beef with Nicole Westbrook, the "It's Thanksgiving" Girl

Categories: Food Fights

Nicole Westbrook turkey leg.JPG
Nicole Westbrook singing into a non-PETA sanctioned turkey leg.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has a bone to pick with Nicole Westbrook, the 12-year-old South County-native who's been burning up the webwaves with her single "It's Thanksgiving." (If you don't know what we're talking about you need to go here immediately.)

Westbrook has gotten her fair share of abuse. The haters claim various reasons to be offended -- as recording artists, as lyricists, as people with ears.

But PETA members have a new one. They are offended as vegetarians.

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Is Taco Bell Eating Chipotle's Lunch?

Categories: Food Fights

Wolfgang Hirn
Spice gal: Its "Cantina Bell" menu going head-to-head with Chipotle, Taco Bell hired South Florida-based chef Lorena Garcia to Latina 'em up.
Earlier this year, Taco Bell brought on celebrity chef Lorena Garcia as a consultant for its new "Cantina Bell" menu, aiming to take a chunk out of rival Tex-Mex purveyor Chipotle Mexican Grill's, er, avocado.

Has the gambit paid off? It would seem so.

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15 Presidential Debate Dinner Ideas Inspired By Obama and Romney Campaign Spending

Categories: Food Fights

Last week Politico broke down information from a recent review of Federal Election Commission reports detailing Mitt Romney and Barack Obama's campaign spending. It contains everything from office supplies and gas expenses to which hotels and restaurants the respective campaigns patronize most often. Gut Check doesn't particularly care where Romney or Obama choose to buy staplers, but sandwiches? That's a subject near and dear to our heart.

In preparation for tonight's presidential town hall debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, Gut Check has compiled lists of restaurants that Romney and Obama's teams opt for on the campaign trail to act as, shall we say, themed-menus for the occasion.

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Point/Counterpoint: Which is Superior, Waffles or Pancakes? Pancakes FTW

Categories: Food Fights

pioneer woman
Image via Pioneer Woman
According to the Internet, -- and other credible sources, like Waffle House -- the first week of September is National Waffle Week. Our first thought at Gut Check International Headquarters was: Why do pancakes only get one measly day of celebration, while waffles are awarded an entire week? It was a divisive question, spurring loyalists on both sides of this age-old breakfast debate. Today we dissect the subtle nuances of both in an attempt to answer the question: Which is the superior A.M. carbohydrate, waffles or pancakes?

On the heels of a limp defense of waffles, Gut Check throws down for pancakes.

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