Note: It looks like I would have won that bet after all. Isabella announced his departure from Zaytinya earlier this summer.
When Mike Isabella appeared on Top Chef last season, I was ready to wager vast sums of money (well, as vast as they get in the alt-paper biz) that the Zaytinya chef would pack his knives and leave José Andrés’ meze emporium as soon as the show wrapped. Here it is a year later, however, and Isabella is still camped in the Zaytinya kitchen. Maybe the chef doesn’t want his own place? Maybe he’s happy working for Mr. Smell the Peaches? (Cue up last year’s Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations episode on D.C. for a refresher on that reference.) Whatever the reason Isabella stays, Zaytinya is all the better for it. It remains my favorite outpost of the Andrés restaurant empire—although I have high hopes for new chef Richard Brandenburg over at Café Atlantico.