The expectations, honestly, could not have been lower. Last fall, I arrived at the Row development in Downtown Los Angeles with an invite to dine during the upcoming season of Top Chef’s “Restaurant Wars” challenge. As a longtime watcher of the show, it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up, even if I was expecting a bit of a train wreck. How good could the food be on a reality TV show? I’d come and have fun watching the sausage be made, while eating subpar sausage in the process. I had no idea what the theme of the restaurant was or who the chefs that were cooking would be, yet when the food started coming out at the makeshift restaurant, I couldn’t believe how delicious it was.
I was eating at Kann, the concept created by Gregory Gourdet, a former Top Chef finalist and director of culinary operations for pan-Asian restaurant Departure in Portland, Ore. Gourdet is known for creating bold dishes that draw inspiration from Korea, Japan, Thailand, China and more, but Kann was different than what the public has grown accustomed to from him.
His previous stint on Top Chef had left him wanting to explore his Haitian heritage more, pushing him to dive deeper into the food he grew up eating yet never cooking professionally. Now he was back competing and winning by cooking this cuisine that’s largely underserved in America. But he has even bigger plans than winning a reality TV cooking challenge. Soon, “Restaurant Wars” diners won’t be the only people to eat Gourdet’s Haitian fare. He’s building his first solo spot around the food people saw him successfully cook on TV. Continue reading