May it Please the Palate: Celebrity Chefs

It has been reported that Food Network's Bobby Flay was recently in town, visiting with his daughter, a prospective U-M student. Like celebrity chef Mario Batali before him, Flay was spotted in Mani Osteria (which I like to call "Manic Hysteria," based on the public's infatuation with this trendy and fab eatery).

Flay reportedly was smitten by the charred octopus appetizer. The day before Flay's visit, Batali tweeted a pic of Mani's ribs with charred shishito, raving that they were "Yumaste!" (Pun on yoga term, conveying transcendant deliciousness.)

Mani has been named as one the very best pizza purveyors in the country by Food & Wine, and in the nation's top 20 Italian restaurants by Travel & Leisure. This is astounding, and gives Ann Arbor another national star alongside perennial champion Zingerman's (which has also been tweeted about by Flay and Batali).

"Man, I" can't even get in the top 20 of anything, much less tweeted about. Although I actually have a Twitter account, I have uttered only three tweets and have but ten followers. In the "Twitterverse," that is equivalent to being picked last for dodge ball.

In the meantime, I too will prostrate myself before the celebrity chefs, and dutifully "retweet" a classic Bobby Flay recipe, combining his love for southwest cuisine and the grill--though this could easily be adapted for stovetop for cold winter days. What I love here is the use of store-bought rotisserie chicken to make this recipe rate "easy," though you will need a handful of specialty items.

Shredded Chicken

and Tomatillo Tacos

with Queso Fresco

(serves 4)


6 tomatillos, husked, washed, and grilled until blackened

1 Serrano pepper, grilled until blackened

Olive oil

1/2 small red onion, coarsely chopped

2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped

1 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1 lime, juiced

2 tablespoons honey

1-1/2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken

8 blue corn tortillas

1 cup crumbled queso fresco (fresh white cheese)


(1) Preheat the grill to medium. Add the blackened tomatillos and Serrano to a small sauté pan, and briefly sauté in a little olive oil on the grates of the grill.

(2) Place the tomatillos, Serrano, onion, garlic, cilantro, lime juice, and honey in a blender and blend until smooth. Place the tomatillo mixture in a large sauté pan and place on the grates of the grill. Bring the mixture to a simmer, add the chicken, and heat through.

(3) Place the tortillas on the grill, and grill for 20 seconds on each side. Spoon the chicken mixture into the tortillas and top with a few tablespoons of queso fresco. Fold the tortillas in half and serve immediately.

Now that I've paid homage to Bobby, I expect that he'll retweet me--and we'll be pals who follow each other, and play dodge ball. I think that's how this stuff works!

Nick Roumel is a principal with Nacht, Roumel, Salvatore, Blanchard, and Walker PC, a firm in Ann Arbor specializing in employment and civil right litigation. He also has many years of varied restaurant and catering experience, has taught Greek cooking classes, and writes a food/restaurant column for "Current" magazine in Ann Arbor. He occasionally updates his blog at

Published: Mon, Feb 25, 2013