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Michelle Heng

A Seattle native and marketing student, Michelle has one insatiable appetite. Always up for trying new dishes and never one to back down to a challenge, Michelle enjoys exploring the many types of cuisine the world has to offer. She believes food is social, exciting, and is what brings people together. Her love affair with food began with a disastrous attempt to make Tiramisu in which she ran out of lady fingers (now dubbed by her friends “eww that thing we ate?!”). A novice at the time, she naturally decided to substitute lady fingers with what she could find in her kitchen cabinets. With nothing comparable in sight, corn flakes seemed like a good idea (as Italian grandmothers rolled in their graves) and resulted in a soupy, mushy mess. Ever since then, she has spent her life making up for the irreparable damage she inflicted on her loved ones’ intestinal tracts and most importantly, to the name of cooking. From working in a restaurant, experimenting with new recipes, and keeping a 24-hour surveillance on the Food Network, Michelle has now developed the cooking skills and palate qualifying her as a food blogger in the know. Michelle joins Restauranteers to share her quirky perspective on food and events and to show everyone out there, there is life after corn flakes in Tiramisu.

Posts by Michelle Heng


Restauranteers Week in Review for October 7, 2011

Posted by Michelle Heng under Food, News, Restaurants


National News

Two men were sent to the hospital after a curry eating contest at Kismot Restaurant.The men took turns eating spoonfuls of the restaurant’s “Killer” curry, each one increasingly spicier than the last and made with the hottest pepper in Edinburgh. Their symptoms — stomach pains, vomiting and acid indigestion. The men took 2nd and 5th place. Well fellas, you didn’t win but you sure took home one hell-of-a booby prize.

Kohl-Strauss Media group is under public scrutiny for discussing mass layoffs of their employees due to the economic climate while dining over a $150 tasting menu consisting of foie gras and multiple bottles of fine aged wine. Maybe next time they can solve the international hunger crisis while flying private air, drinking champagne out of golden goblets, while adjusting their diamond-encrusted monocles.

A new study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology found that women consume an average of 112 less calories when they eat meals with men versus when they eat with women. So if I go out to eat with 10 men, does that mean I will consume 1120 less calories? Yes, I would like two fries, a burger, a strawberry milkshake and 10 male companions on the side, thanks!

Lunch Break: Check out this surprising video of a Chimpanzee in Japan grilling a whole fish. As the old adage goes, “give a man a fish, you feed him for a day…” and if you give a chimpanzee a fish, he will apparently light a fire, grill and flip the fish for you, and eat it with chopsticks.

News From Around the Restauranteers Way

Real Mex Restaurants Inc. owner of chain restaurants Acapulco, El Torito and Chevys Fresh Mex has been approved to receive $25 million to help operations while in bankruptcy. The good news is — look at all this money they could save by switching to Geico. [San Diego]

The Pink Door is honoring National Breast Cancer Awareness month with a $10 pink lemonade and vodka cocktail whose sales will benefit the Young Survival Coalition. We’ll drink to that! [Seattle]

Seattle is in a frenzy over Canlis’ latest teaser to find keys to open its restaurant doors for one night of VIP dining on the house! Be vewy vewy quiet, we’re hunting wabbits Canlis keys… [Seattle]

The Sacramento International Airport may be the newest dining hot spot in town with the recent opening of Central Terminal B, a $1 billion project that features only local food vendors and restaurants. The new terminal is so highly coveted, people are buying tickets to just get into the terminal alone and not actually flying out. Really.[Sacramento]

New Restaurant Openings

Marché (previous Campagne space, Pike Place Market)
Altura (Broadway & E Roy)
Bako (E Broadway & E Mercer)
Momiji (12th and Pine)
Umai-Do (Central District)
Milstead & Company (Fremont)
Mezcaleria Oaxaca (Queen Anne)
Table 219 (changing its name to Americana, Capitol Hill)

Restaurant Closings

Bandolero Restaurant & Tequila Bar (Tangletown)
Seattle Burger Company (Ballard)
Bricco (Queen Anne)

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The Ultimate Guide to Workout Nutrition [FoodGraphic]

Posted by Michelle Heng under Food, Food Trends

In the on-going battle of the bulge, people often feel that keeping that waistline trim means having to eat like a rabbit. And you know what rabbits eat? Carrots. They eat carrots. That’s not what foodies like to hear, especially as we enter this part of the year when the rich fall seasonal foods and holiday meals are on our minds. Having to decide between that love for great food and that love for a great figure is a decision we often toggle back and forth from, with the plumpy devil on one shoulder and the slim angel on the other.

Thanks to the creative minds at design agency, Voltier Creative has put together an infographic on Greatist.com that helps us foodies achieve our fitness goals while still being able to eat what we would like (within reason). The infographic breaks down the best time to consume that healthy portion of protein, fruit, grains, and veggies you long for while your body uses it for fuel.

Source: http://www.greatist.com/health/the-complete-guide-to-workout-nutrition/

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America’s Favorite Bacon Dishes [FoodGraphic]

Posted by Michelle Heng under Food, Food Trends

Oh bacon, known as the meat candy to the people, it is the one delicious treat that can be consumed on any occasion, in any mood, and at any location (perhaps, except for a vegan or vegetarian restaurant or household). Even with the rising costs of bacon, America has not stopped its love for this delicious ode to pork. However way you slice it, there is not one way to enjoy bacon, even the best restaurants have their own special way of utilizing it, pairing it with sweets like ice cream and dates or enhancing it with savory flavors like steak and even in vodka!

As the saying goes, “bring home the bacon” so let’s dive into this meaty treat and explore some of the top food cities in America and the top five ways they take their bacon in a food-infographic:

Source: GiftRocket
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Bland is Boring, New Media is Not

Posted by Michelle Heng under Food Trends, News

Every once and awhile, Restauranteers likes to write about the cross section where food and technology meet. We think food-tech is a great resource for our friends and family to find new food experiences and encourage a rave-worthy culinary adventure.

People are often exploring new media to find ways to get their content out to a larger audience. The problem with this is anyone with a computer and a crazy idea can jump in and blast their content to the world. With all the online fodder out there, it is difficult to weed out the entertaining and informative from the cheesy and been-there/seen-that content.

Surprisingly, YouTube has created a subset of viral video stars, who have quickly gathered a large following in the food world. Any type of media that can be viewed on your laptop, tablet and more importantly, on your mobile is a greater resource than say, if you were stuck at home watching an infomerical on the old boob tube. In a quick paced technological world, the webisode has come to the forefront of new media because if you’re in the kitchen, shopping for groceries, or in the car, you don’t necessarily have time to sit and read through a cookbook (let alone carry one on you) to learn how to cook a new dish.

Bland is Boring

We recently discovered a new site chalk full of interesting food-webisodes that makes cooking more fun and much more colorful, which we have now added to our arsenal of go-to food resources. Bland is Boring has come out of the gates with a way to bridge the gap between new media and food that is both easy to learn and enjoyable to watch. Backed by the minds of seasoned Chef Ali Hassan and digital media professional Rohit Chandra, Bland is Boring is on a crusade to fight the tasteless-food pandemic by bringing some spice, flavor and humor back into everyday cooking.

Bland is Boring focuses on five different cuisines spanning from Asia to Italy all the way across to  the middle east. Chef Hassan never shys away from aromatics, dried and frozen foods, and most of all, he certainly does not shy away from using spices. What makes Bland is Boring rave-worthy is that it is interactive and truly engaging. The site accepts recipe suggestions from its viewers and Chef Hassan will find ways to revive it on the show.

However a heed of warning to its viewers “if your recipe sucks, you’ll probably never hear from us again…” (a good note to self).

Bland is Boring brings an honest, comical, and irreverent approach to food that is refreshing among all the online fodder. Bland may be boring but this show is certainly not, and is a great resource to access when you need a little spicing up in your food and life.

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Ah, it’s Monday and most of us are not at work! A three-day weekend usually means we get a weekend mulligan. However we did or did not spend Saturday or Sunday doesn’t matter, this extra day is for us to make the most of, and what better way to celebrate Labor Day (in the waning days of summer) than a get-together with friends? Of course, what get-together is not without its proper cocktails?

An infographic designed by nobodyssweetheart on Visual.ly details some of the most popular cocktails that are perfect for entertaining guests. From an oldie but a goodie Old Fashioned, to a rum-induced libation dubbed the Planter’s Punch, the infographic will guide you through choosing the perfect stemware and mixes, leaving your guests with a cocktail party worth talking about at work the next day.

What’s your favorite cocktail to entertain guests with?

source: http://visual.ly/drinks-guide-entertaining

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Restauranteers Week in Review for September 2, 2011

Posted by Michelle Heng under Food, News, Restaurants


National News

The dream is so real and so are the calories — Denny’s newest sandwich, the Mac ‘n Cheese Big Daddy Melt comes with a whopping 1,690 calories! Imagine if you will, two pieces of grilled potato bread stuffed with a hand-pressed beef patty topped with creamy Mac ‘n Cheese, melted cheddar and zesty Frisco sauce, of course with french fries. Should we order a “diet” soda with that?

Dear Texas State Fairs, please stop deep frying… just stuff in general. Thanks.
-Restauranteers (in response to the new fried bubblegum offering).

In an effort to address the rising obesity crisis, Hungary has implemented a “fat tax.” A 10 forint or US $.05 tax on “foods with high fat, sugar and salt content,” there will also be increased tariffs on liquor and sodas. Anyone else thinking what we are — we just found a solution to the national debt crisis?

French Laundry mastermind Thomas Keller is launching a gluten-free flour in select William-Sonoma retailers. The fanfare of the new gluten-free staple even brought a woman to tears after tasting bread for the first time in 10 years. Gluten-free bread is the best thing next to, well, sliced bread!

The Hipster Barista is the newest meme circulating around food circles. It’s the “so bad but true” humor with little gems like: “You only have two tattoos? The Position has been filled.” and “$120,000 art degree – Draws faces in latte foam.”

From your team at Restauranteers Seattle — Have a happy and safe Labor Day weekend everyone!

News From Around the Restauranteers Way

Food Network’s newest show “Crave” debuted this week showcasing the bizarre origins of popular foods. San Diego-based food writer Troy Johnson hosts the show and reveals his experience gave him more of an appreciation for bacon and coincidentally, we have more of an appreciation for Troy Johnson. [San Diego]

Word in the blogosphere reveals Washington has opened its first “premier” liquor store in West Seattle. The new store is about 45 percent larger and “fancier” than the average state-run shop, and will stock 2,000 spirit products (both premium and “super premium” liquors), with a grand opening tasting of select vodkas and whiskeys on September 2nd. You stay classy Seattle. [Seattle]

Pho soup is so good Seattle has a new fan club dedicated to it dubbed “the pho-natics.” Described as an underground “fight club” for Pho, members go around to different local restaurants and discuss the wonderful flavors of their dishes. The first rule about Pho Club is that you don’t talk about Pho Club (oops!). [Seattle]

The 21st Annual Chalk It Up! Festival is this holiday weekend. The festival raises money to benefit children’s art programs. Of course, there will be tasty eats there with appearances from Drewski’s Hot Rod Kitchen, Blackbird Kitchen and Bar and Tuli Bistro. Chalk one up for good food and charity!  [Sacramento]

New Restaurant Openings

Flying Squirrel Pizza Co. (Maple Leaf)
Potbelly Sandwich Co. (Bellevue)
Belle Epicurean (Madison Park)
A La Bonne Franquette (Mt. Baker)
Zaw Artisan Pizza (Wallingford)
Orcas Landing (Beacon Hill)

Restaurant Closings

Bad Albert’s (Ballard – temporarily)
Nettletown (Eastlake)

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Giddyup Seattle, a New Food Rodeo is in Town

Posted by Michelle Heng under Food, Food Trends

...and the actual horse he rode in on

Howdy partners! Ever wonder who has the best restaurant on wheels in these here towns –  Seattle or Portland?

You bet yer’ little doggies, this is a question weighing on people’s minds even more now since Seattle recently passed zoning laws allowing food trucks to assemble on parking lots and create food pods similar to our patchouli-sniffing neighbors down in Oregon. Alas, the battle between Seattle vs. Portland food trucks keeps raging on.

However one event is bringing Seattle and Portland “chef-preneurs” and the horses they rode in on food trucks they drove together to give hungry folks, with a healthy opinion to weigh in on the battle.  On Saturday, September 17th from 12pm to 7pm,  Interbay will play host to Seattle’s first ever Mobile Food Rodeo which brings “the biggest collection of mobile food trucks ever assembled in Washington.” With over 20 trucks roundin’ up from the Seattle and Portland area, cowboys and cowgals (or Seattleites and Portlandians) can now sample different types of cuisine and finally settle whose food truck scene is the best in the west.

Trucks will be judged on a variety of categories like best in show, best new dish, and people’s choice in the first annual Wagon Awards.

Food goers can also expect some of the best restaurants on wheels from here all the way to the border (that is the Oregon/California border):

*Happy Grillmore

*Where Ya At Matt?

*Maximus Minimus

*Marination Station

*Skillet Street Food

*Lumpia World

*Robb’s Really Good Food

*Slice Brick Oven

*and more, for a complete list check out Mobile Food Rodeo’s website.

The highlight of this wild, wild Pacific Northwest food showdown is that the Mobile Food Rodeo will donate 10% of all ticket sales to local food banks around the Seattle area to help keep people fed through the non-profit Solid Ground. Eating good food for a good cause is not a shabby deal.

Advance tickets to the rodeo are now available for pre-sale on Stranger Tickets for $7 (adult) but hurry quickly, they are expected to sell out soon.

Now… draw!

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Alice Waters and Her 40-Year Food Romance

Posted by Michelle Heng under Food, News, Restaurants

Food activist, author, restaurateur, and chef Alice Waters is, and has become the people’s champion in the food world among many other things. Coming from very humble beginnings, without any formal culinary training, Waters was just a girl with a love for French cuisine and culture, who started with a passion and focus for local, fresh, and organic ingredients. Waters has now built a legacy from the ground up that is embarking into its 40th year today.

On August 28, 1971, Waters along with her team of scrappy food locavores (who also had no prior restaurant experience) put together the first meal ever served to the public at Chez Panisse in Berkley, California. Over the years, Waters refined her craft and showed the food world her unmoving focus and support for farm-to-table dining. Her independent roots and bohemian style approach to food had unknowingly spurred on the local food movement that we see today, popularizing and emphasizing sustainable healthy eating, support for local farmers, and celebrating the simplicity of fresh ingredients.

As Chez Panisse celebrates its 40th year, Waters has also expanded her mission to the Edible Schoolyard Project, which brings nationwide organic garden and kitchen projects for socio-economically disadvantaged youth and educates them on healthier eating, is in the process of launching Edible Education 101, a class at UC Berkley to bring more awareness to sustainable eating, and of course, she will continue to discovers ways to make healthy food more accessible for American families.

As the saying goes, “home is where the heart is,” well for chefs and food lovers all around, home must be the kitchen. In a nod to Alice Waters and her 40 years of Chez Panisse and the food movement it now stands for, we take a look at Ms. Water’s heart, her kitchen, in an infographic courtesy of Vanity Fair.

Alice Waters Kitchen Source: Vanity Fair
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Houston Restaurant Ejects Patron for Opinionated Tweets

Posted by Michelle Heng under Food, Food Trends

Do you think she is T.U.I.?

It seems these days dining establishments are taking back the power from social media (consider the recent two-page contract at Rogue 24) and are limiting its influence on their brands.

A recent incident occurred at Houston restaurant and bar Down House when Allison Matsu, a known Houston “twitterer” was 86’d from Down House on Sunday night.

Here are the basics: Matsu was out enjoying a beer or two at Down House when she overheard a bartender mention Bobby Heugel, a prominent Houston bartender and restaurateur. Hearing the bartender quote Heugel, Matsu, while at the bar then tweeted that the bartender was a “twerp” for quoting Heugel and also used the hashtag #jackoff.

Down House General Manager Forrest DeSpain runs the Twitter account for the restaurant and as he saw it, took action despite not being at the restaurant that night. He immediately called Down House and asked to speak with Matsu to see if “she had any kinder words” which she responded that she did not and then DeSpain asked her to leave.

However, Matsu had a different story in which DeSpain said, “You need to get your ass up and leave the establishment. Your time is done there.”

Matsu went on to Twitter: “Left @DownHouseHTX in tears after GM called up & asked the bartender to hand me the phone. He proceeded to curse a me & ask me to leave. Wow.”

Down House owner, Chris Cusack had this to comment to the Houston Press, “If you go to someone’s house and start calling them names, I wouldn’t really expect to stay too much longer after that.” Although Cusack makes a rather fair argument it raises the question whether or not the ejection was fair on the other hand, some have come to Matsu’s defense, while others have harshly criticized her as well.

Perhaps this is a lesson in etiquette and Matsu should be slapped with a T.U.I. (Tweeting Under the Influence) offense or does Down House owe her an apology?

We want to know how you weigh in on this situation. Did the general manager act on fair grounds?

cc image courtesy of (e)Spry on flickr

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can you hear me now? not at Rogue24...

Getting a reservation at a new hip DC eatery was about who you knew or how quick you were to call in and snag a table before anyone else, but at Rogue24, it’s about signing a binding two-page contract.

Rogue24 is the newest, urban, fine dining establishment in Washington DC from Chef RJ Cooper, set in between an alleyway, Rogue24 promises an elevated dining experience rather than just a simple meal. Patrons can choose between a 16-course ($145 with pairings $145/$100 without ) or a 24-course tasting menu ($175 with pairings, $120 without) that lasts approximately 3.5 hours.

However, all that glitters is not always gold, getting a reservation at Rogue24 means signing a contract and giving up your left hand smartphone. The contract bans the use of cell phones and cameras during the dinner in order for patrons to enjoy their meal free from distraction (do you think they’d ban young children too?).

In addition, patrons must also agree to the cancellation policy by including their credit card information on the contract. Reservations canceled within 72-hours of the dinner (up to 3 p.m. on the day of the reservation), patrons are bound to pay 50 percent of the intended bill; whereas, cancellations made after 3 p.m. on the day of, would-be patrons would have to pay 100 percent of the intended bill.

The contract also asks for any additional food allergies or food preferences (e.g. vegetarian, pescetarian, or vegan) which is understandable for a more seamless dining experience. Patrons have 72-hours to return the contract after signing it or it will self destruct the reservation will be voided.

Although, once that fresh ink dries on paper and you’re locked into this agreement, how would the restaurant regulate sneaky patrons carrying a concealed cell phone? Will it be like the movie theaters and a teenage boy in a glow-in-the- dark vest carrying a glow-in-the-dark light saber-like wand paces back and forth the dining room to make sure patrons aren’t sneaking a snapshot or a short film clip?

People love to post pictures of their food conquests online just as much as they love to eat it (not to mention, a quick picture online is free advertising). And there won’t be any ‘look at me, I’m at Rogue24′ status updates or check-ins for your friends to comment over, well because if they did, you know they didn’t do it from inside the restaurant.

What do you think of the cell-phone ban and two-page contract policy at Rogue24?

cc image courtesy of epicbeer on flickr

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