Bizarre Foods show highlights Baltimore

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The cuisine and restaurants of Baltimore are getting another turn in the national spotlight.

The March 25 episode of "Bizarre Foods America with Andrew Zimmern" features Baltimore and the Chesapeake Bay.

The last time Baltimore was the subject of a Travel Channel food show was in July 2009, when Anthony Bourdain's "No Reservations" took viewers into a gritty side of the city. Not all Baltimoreans were pleased with how the city came across.

Zimmern's affable style is different from Bourdain's, but don't expect a chamber of commerce-style slide show. As fans of "Bizarre Foods" — and its domestic spinoff, "Bizarre Foods America" — know, Zimmern is more interested in exploring parts of a city that sometimes its own inhabitants are unaware of. Food, for Zimmern, is the passport, but not the destination.

Zimmern came to Baltimore last June with the crew of "Bizarre Foods America," the domestic version of his long-running travelogue series. Zimmern tweeted a diary of his visit to Baltimore and the Eastern Shore, and openly discussed his itinerary with the local media.

Among Zimmern's stops were the J.M. Clayton Seafood Co. in Cambridge, Chap's Pit Beef, Hollins Market and Lexington Market. Zimmern also spent a long afternoon with the crew at Woodberry Kitchen and spent a long day with WYPR contributor Henry Hong, who introduced him to the area's Korean cuisine, including Nam Kang in Charles North and Lotte Market and Shin Chon Garden in Ellicott City.

"Shin Chon in Ellicott City Maryland is one of top ten Korean BBQ experiences in America. A must for anyone who loves food. Major discovery," Zimmern tweeted.

We won't know what made it onto the finished episode until 9 p.m. March 25, but here's part of the official episode synopsis from the Travel Channel: "Steamed blue crabs, fresh grilled eel, Korean blood sausage, and barbecued muskrat are just a few of the tasty treats Zimmern gets to try."

Closure in Hampden The Dogwood Restaurant in Hampden has closed, according to Galen Sampson, who co-owned the restaurant with his wife, Bridget. Its last day of service was Saturday.

"This weekend we were forced to make the decision to close The Dogwood Restaurant," Sampson wrote Sunday evening in a statement released to Baltimore Diner. "We had hoped we could keep it going, but after three very poor weeks of revenue there is no option but to close the restaurant."

He wrote that the restaurant would be able to pay employees the wages they are due.

"We did our best to try and restructure our business model in order to keep our employees employed," Sampson continued. "Unfortunately, Bridget and I have consumed all of our resources and there is no option available to continue."

The Dogwood, which opened in 2007, has been ahead of the curve in Baltimore with its use of seasonal and local ingredients.

Known for their commitment to community, the Sampsons were recognized for the professional paid training program they instituted at Dogwood with initial funding from the Baltimore Community Fellowship Program.

Farm to Dais The James Beard Foundation announced the finalists for the 2013 James Beard Foundation Awards, and Spike Gjerde of Woodberry Kitchen is among the five finalists for Best Chef Mid-Atlantic, one of 10 regional categories.

This is the first time Gjerde has made it to the finalist level. Among Baltimore chefs, only Cindy Wolf has made it this far, in 2006 and 2008.

Gjerde will be competing against Cathal Armstrong of Restaurant Eve in Alexandria, Va., Brad Spence of Amis in Philadelphia, Johnny Morris of Komi in Washington and Vikram Sunderam of Rusika, also in Washington.

The winners will be announced May 6 at an awards ceremony and gala reception at Avery Fisher Hall in New York.

richard.gorelick@baltsun.com

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