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The news that Washington City Paper’s food editor, Chris Shott (pictured above), was leaving to return to New York, where his family lives, led us to do some soul searching. How were we going to survive the cut-throat world of freelance food journalism without his steady, guiding hand? What were we to do without the lavish pay he showered on us almost daily from the throne he sat in at City Paper? (And by “lavish,” we mean, “barely denominated in dollars instead of cents.”) When would things ever be the same?
We wanted to register our protest, while also celebrating the man himself, so we did what any self-respecting group of slightly demented freelance writers would do: we met Chris at Union Station as he prepared to leave D.C. for the last time. We forced him into the back of a nondescript-looking van and spirited him away to an undisclosed location. With help from some of D.C.’s best chefs, including a few who were fortunate to be on the receiving end of his acerbic reviews at one time or another, we roasted Chris in grand fashion. Below are some short non-reviews of that unforgettable meal. (Note: None of what follows is remotely true, except the fact that all the contributors will be sorry to see Shott leave.)
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Offal and charcuterie made its way onto every menu during Chris Shott’s tenue at City Paper, so we feasted accordingly…on his brain, done three ways. We started with a cocktail, a meat-garnished libation by Proof’s Adam Bernbach called the Mindfulness Eraser: Kahlua, vodka, and splash of soda sucked like a shooter through a straw, finished with a bite of pickled brain. This classic one-Shott was followed with a nod to his irritation with modernist cuisine. Volt‘s Bryan Voltaggio switched up his savory take on a beet macaroon. Instead of foie gras, he infused it with braised brain and a marijuana-Meyer lemon foam, for an amuse bouche called The Pot Shott. Herbaceous, bright, and savory, it was a heady bite that fueled our appetites, so we moved on to the main, a variation of the banh mi. R.J. Cooper of Rogue 24 boiled Shott’s head to make terrine for that creamy pate schmear. Layered with Shott’s roasted shoulder and heaped with condiments—fish sauce, cilantro, Thai basil, jalapeno, and a carrot-cucumber slaw—the innards splayed on an oblong crusty baguette for The Long Shott. Noshing like a zombie certainly didn’t suck. Bring on the next course!
—Melissa McCart, City Paper contributor, food critic-in-exile
Scribe, smart-ass, ally,
He sure didn’t suck.
—Nevin Martell, City Paper contributor
There was really only one way to enjoy Chris Shott: spit-roasted over an open flame by José Andrés. The chef mixed olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon rinds, basil, oregano, garlic and peppercorns and rubbed it over the entire surface of Chris, before stuffing him with a few whole lemons, onions and garlic. Then Andrés skewered Chris and strung him up over hot embers. The whole scene took on a Lord of the Flies vibe when R.J. Cooper led a war chant around the fire. It certainly didn’t suck.
—Kelly DiNardo, City Paper contributor
My favorite dish of the night was the ambrosially flavored, odd little dish of Chris’ critical eye, which was prepared by Mike Isabella. All I could do was think about how that eye had done things like take the commonplace noun matchbook and transform it into “logo-emblazoned complimentary flame starters.” Trying to ignore the churning of my stomach, I took a bite. The glutinous texture of the sphere and its sharp flavor reminded me of raspberries. It seemed perfect for a brand-new flavor of Sour Patch Kids.
—Ashley Dejean, City Paper intern
Brisket of Chris Shott, as prepared by City Paper Managing Editor Mike Madden, an established cook in his own right, tasted like an old shoe. But the dish was full of snarky mystery. Madden had us all guessing as to whether this was mildew-y old Converse All Star or super-hip-throwback-canvas Van’s Half Cabs with checkered laces. We were mesmerized. The chef softened the leathery and mysterious thud of the brisket with delicious accompaniments, however. Fresh chorizo of Shott thigh with hand-cut back fat. Dirty rice flecked with bits of Shott liver. And a frisee salad with poached egg and crispy Shott ear. It was as if Soylent Green had been given the Jewish grandmother treatment. But where was the corned tongue?
—Sam Hiersteiner, City Paper contributor
We baked Shott, of course, stirring his bits into a brownie mix with reserved fat from an Ibérico pig. We threw in a few dashes of ego leftover from an alley in Shaw and topped it with a few soggy bits of fried calamari, previously adorning an MTV-endorsed pizza. Team Hilton spun records, wearing too-tight prairie dresses, later reported stolen from a basement restaurant in Dupont.
Afterward, we dined on overpriced peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and vandalized a few food trucks in Franklin Square. Our tag: It Doesn’t Suck.
—Stefanie Gans, former City Paper vegetarian critic, suburban omnivore
Photo by Will Mitchell