Cleveland Heights author Michael Ruhlman ("The Making of a Chef," "The Soul of a Chef") enters the reality-TV arena as one of the judges on "Cooking Under Fire," a WGBH-produced cooking competition to premiere on PBS stations April 27. Ruhlman, with fellow judges chef-restaurateur Todd English, PBS' "Simply Ming" host Ming Tsai and regional celebrity chefs, will whittle down a field of promising young chefs to choose a winner who'll join the kitchen of one of English's Manhattan eateries.
Over 12 episodes, the series will travel to Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami and New York City, where the 12 contestants will pit their culinary skills against one another in elimination rounds.
"After â€˜The Restaurant' [reality-TV series], which was viewed inside the industry as a cringing embarrassment, my hope is that this show might reveal how colossally hard cooking well under pressure in a restaurant situation is," Ruhlman says. "I also hope it might convey the unalloyed, in fact demented, passion required to do this work well."
â€¢ From Feb. 10 through 15, Century will offer a chocolaty tasting menu: cocoa-dusted sea scallop with potato cake, orange coulis and a cocoa berry fried funnel cake; braised rabbit cassoulet with Esprit des Alpes chocolate and cornbread croustade; and chocolate molÃ©-glazed sea bass with toasted pecan crust. For afters, there's chocolate-and-passionfruit profiterole, followed by "Portrait of Chocolate" with dark, milk and white chocolates. Cost is $58. Call (216) 902-5255.
â€¢ This month's wine tastings at Lockkeepers in Valley View include Tuscan reds Feb. 4 ($15), "sexy, silky" California reds Feb. 11 ($35) and a Feb. 22 five-course winemaker dinner featuring wines and art prints by Gary Conway, owner of Carmody McKnight Estate Wines in Paso Robles, Calif. ($85). Call (216) 524-9404.
â€¢ Donna Chriszt (Jeso, J CafÃ©) has landed as chef/manager at the new NINE bistro at Grey Hawk Golf Club in LaGrange.
â€¢ Great Lakes Brewing Co. has trotted out Conway's Irish Ale, a toasty red ale named for the grandfather of co-owners Daniel and Patrick Conway. GLBC touts it as especially good paired with corned beef, shepherd's pie and other St. Paddy's Day fare.
â€¢ Having scuttled one Titanic in the Warehouse District, Albanian-born developer Sako Satka has opened a new eatery of the same ill-starred moniker in the former Martinis on the Avenue in Lakewood. Hopefully, this one will stay afloat longer (the first went under in less than a year).
Meanwhile, Satka's former digs at 1350 W. Third St. are in the hands of the owners of the Majestic Cuyahoga and Lake Erie dinner-cruise ship. They're transforming the space into a reincarnation of the iconic Captain Frank's Ninth Street Pier restaurant, complete with the original menu of seafood, steaks and Italian cuisine, and original chef Antonio Gallo as a consultant in the kitchen. An Upper Deck banquet room will occupy the second floor and a Lower Deck jazz lounge the basement. Watch for an early April opening.
Nauti Mermaid, 1378 W. Sixth St., Warehouse District, (216) 771-6175; Red the Steakhouse, 3355 Richmond Road, Beachwood, (216) 831-2252; Titanic, 15315 Madison Ave., Lakeood, (216) 221-5130
Indigo Indian Bistro, 503 Prospect Ave., Cleveland</P