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Real Reality: A First Look at the Chefs Contending for Kitchen LTO

Meeters, tasters, reviewers and voters at 3015 Trinity Groves
Meeters, tasters, reviewers and voters at 3015 Trinity Groves
foodbitch

Last night, Kitchen LTO opened its doors (well, 3015 Trinity's doors, technically) to the $25-per-ticket-paying-public for a sold-out night of tasting, schmoozing and drinking. The event was all in the name of introducing the chefs and designers who are in the running to create the very first Kitchen LTO concept, slated to open later this summer.

For those of you not familiar, Kitchen LTO (which stands for Limited Time Offer) is a lot like a reality show, but instead of being totally fake, it's actually quite real. Listen to the setup: A major restaurant mogul (Phil Romano), together with a local salad restaurateur (Casie Caldwell), give partnered chefs and restaurant designers the opportunity to create a concept that Dallas' "fickle 500" can try out for a few months. And then the place is gone forever, to be replaced with a whole new concept created by the next chef/designer pair. Oh, and the public gets to ultimately decide which chefs and which designers get the green light.

So back to last night's event, directionally titled MEET. TASTE. REVIEW. VOTE. In the large, kitchen-studded space that is 3015 Trinity Groves, tables of happy tasters were flanked by five tables of designers showcasing their proposed restaurant designs, and five chefs offering samples of their cuisines and proposed menus.

The "menu" of chefs and designers, plus a voting chip
The "menu" of chefs and designers, plus a voting chip
foodbitch

The designer contenders were Karen Chidiac, Lauren Kwan, Kara Legako, Ijeoma Onyejiaka and the team of John Paul Valverde and Michael Vicens. The chefs up for the big job were Adam Aschner, Justin Box, Darius Gibson, Norman Grimm and Matt Reddick. With designs that ranged from organic to high end and cuisines that ranged from rustic and Cajun to modern and high concept, everybody brought something unique to the tables.

Items of self promotion by designer Ijeoma Onyejiaka
Items of self promotion by designer Ijeoma Onyejiaka
foodbitch

But last night was just the beginning. Now it's your chance to get involved, because popular voting has begun. Vote once per day for your favorites through June 10. Then help them win by sharing on Facebook and Twitter. The winning pair will be announced on June 11. So press your button, turn your chair around and let's get judgy.

All that's missing is some drunk housewives and maybe a little pool sex. But perhaps they're saving all that for the reunion show.

Matt Reddick's fried shrimp with brown gravy buerre blanc and cheddar biscuit
Matt Reddick's fried shrimp with brown gravy buerre blanc and cheddar biscuit
foodbitch
Norman Grimm's rice crispy tuna tartare
Norman Grimm's rice crispy tuna tartare
foodbitch
Darius Gibson's boudin balls with crescent sauce
Darius Gibson's boudin balls with crescent sauce
foodbitch
Adam Aschner's spaghetti and meatball
Adam Aschner's spaghetti and meatball
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Justin Box's Romesco chicken flatbread
Justin Box's Romesco chicken flatbread
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