Last night's episode of Law & Order: Criminal Intent ("Salome in Manhattan") featured a plot revolving around a young, once-hot chef struggling to make a comeback while biding his time as host of a morning cooking spot on a local TV station. His girlfriend (and socialite daughter of a possible investor) is murdered, and detectives Wheeler and Nichols* catch the case.
While there wasn't as much cheffage as I would have liked (look to "Death Roe" [Season 4, Episode 15] for a more chef-heavy—and dark—episode), the show did feature enough NYC restaurant-world verisimilitude to entertain. There's the young chef whose first restaurant was critically acclaimed but financially doomed, thanks to a bumbling business partner. There's a hip-hop star turned fledgling restaurateur (played by Naughty By Nature's Treach), calling to mind any number of celebrities who have tried their hand at backing an eatery (Britney, Justin).
There's a reference to Gourmand magazine—L&O's obvious stand-in for Gourmet: "Your genius, my charm, Peter Wellsley's checkbook. You'll be back on the cover of Gourmand magazine in no time." [Crocs, fake food blogs, and more, after the jump.]
And the trade magazine Toque: The Magazine for Chefs is pretty rich. Its cover lines are "Kitchens from Hell (True Stories from Real Chefs!)" and "Generation Next: Sous Chefs to Watch Out For."
And that's just the beginning. It really is pretty amazing how detail-oriented the set design (above) and the costume and props departments are in the Law & Order franchise. Let's take a spin through some of the other food-world-related things going on last night.
Referencing Mario Batali's signature orange Crocs, the chef in question in this episode wears a blue pair, seen briefly toward the beginning of the show.
Checking the Food Webs
Jeff Goldblum's character, Detective Zach Nichols, consults a restaurant blog called PotLuck to research the history of the chef's failed restaurant, Endymion. PotLuck's real world analog might be restaurant gossip/news sites like Eater, Grub Street, or The-Feedbag. (You know, PotLuck is actually a pretty good name for a food blog; too bad it's already taken.)
But it doesn't stop there. The show's art directors created a second site for Goldblum to check. With "NYL" in the upper right hand corner of the page, it appears to be the website of the New York Ledger, the L&O universe's tabloid stand-in for the New York Post.
L&O's Fake Tabloid Plagiarizes the New York Times
Goldblum also consults the print version of the Ledger. And freeze-framing the shot reveals that the props department has even created newspapers with stories that are more than just dummy text. But while the article is indeed food-related, the folks at L&O haven't gone so far as to write a fake article. Let's zoom in, shall we?
The episode first aired last night, but if you missed it, you can catch it again July 4 at 11 p.m. on the USA network. (Just set your DVR and go watch fireworks, though, OK?)
* Can I just say that I love Jeff Goldblum as Wheeler's new partner? I thought Chris Noth as Mike Logan couldn't be replaced easily, but Goldblum is doing a fine job—even if he is a bit of a Goren reheat. And I've been a fan of Julianne Nicholson's Megan Wheeler since she replaced Annabella Sciorra.