The Clean Plate Club, Episode #8: Mark Heyman, Ben Leventhal (Hosted By Kitchensurfing)

Conflict! Drama! Confrontation! Yes, they’re all here in today’s episode of The Clean Plate Club. Our guests are two distinguished gentlemen. The first, Mark Heyman, is a good friend and the author of a little movie you may have heard of called Black Swan. How that movie came about and how Mark approached writing it makes up a good part of today’s podcast, so you get to hear the full behind-the-scenes saga. Our other guest, Ben Leventhal, was recently named The Most Important Food Blogger of All Time by First We Feast. Considering the fact that he co-founded, arguably the most important and widely-read restaurant news site in existence, you can see why he deserves it. Ben is also the president of a new company called Kitchensurfing which hosted our dinner on this particular eve. The site pairs up normal people like you and me with chefs who will come over to your house or apartment and make a dinner for you and your friends based on a budget you set. On the night of our podcast, our chef was the highly talented Tahoma Hauptman.

Here’s Tahoma hard at work in my kitchen (yes, it was kind of weird having another person cooking with my stuff in my kitchen, but also a big relief because I didn’t have to lift a finger):


And here’s some of the food he made for us: fried potatoes with oven roasted tomato jam.


Bone marrow with caramelized garlic and crostini:


Tuna tartar in crispy prosciutto:


Sweet potato crab cakes:


Pork belly braised in fish stock (my favorite dish of the night; it had incredible flavor):


And, finally, sweet stirred custard with citrus salad:


Yes, all of that food was cooked in my kitchen using most of my pots and pans. Pretty incredible, right? Now I really have to up my game.

So what’s this confrontation I was talking about at the beginning?

Back in 2005, when both our sites were pretty new, Ben wrote the following on Eater: “The Amateur Gourmet is to the New York restaurant scene as the Naked Cowboy is to Times Square: one must draw upon the rules of a parallel universe to understand. For here, using the principles of this world, we are at a loss.”

Oh yes, harsh words. And on this night–eight years later–I finally got to confront him on it. Was he taken by surprise? How did he react? Did we come to blows?

Click play and find out; or load it up in iTunes and enjoy it in your car. Thanks to Kitchensurfing and Tahoma and Ben for such a terrific dinner. Next week, it’ll be me back in the kitchen cooking and cleaning while podcasting. Man, why can’t Kitchensurfing host every episode?

Previous Episodes of The Clean Plate Club:
Episode #7: Deb Perelman (Smitten Kitchen)
Episode #6: Jim Cantiello, Kat Odell
Episode #5: Noah Galuten, Billy Scafuri
Episode #4: Ruth Bourdain
Episode #3: Drew Droege, Ganda Suthivarakom
Episode #2: Zach Brooks, Luke Matheny
Episode #1: Besha Rodell, Rachel Shukert