Tales from the Trail

One more secret at CIA – next week’s Top Chef winner and loser

August 12, 2010

The Central Intelligence Agency has one more secret to keep this week — who won the Top Chef challenge in next week’s episode.

The TV cooking competition at the end of  Wednesday’s episode, in which House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was a guest judge and declared herself a “foodie,” previewed the coming week when the competing chefs do their thing at the intelligence agency. A smiling CIA Director Leon Panetta was shown in the snippet tasting an entry at a white-tablecloth table. USA/AFGHANISTAN

Having been to the CIA on occasion while covering intelligence and remembering being required to leave my cellphone and BlackBerry in my car because they weren’t allowed inside, I wondered whether the chefs were able to take their famous cooking knives into the secure facility.

Attempts to pry the winner of the competition out of the CIA failed. But we did gather some intelligence about Panetta — his Italian immigrant family ran a restaurant in California and so he knows a little something about food.  (Pelosi is also from California, foodie coincidence?)

“He had fun, and he was happy to talk up the talents of the CIA’s own chef, Fred DeFilippo, a graduate of the other CIA—the Culinary Institute of America,” one U.S. intelligence foodie source tells us.

“The show’s crew went through standard security procedures, as you would expect, and with no burps or hiccups.  The signature Top Chef knives paired nicely with the agency’s own china.  The diners used all their senses to carefully analyze—and enjoy—the terrific dishes that were served up.”

Photo credit: Reuters/Larry Downing (Panetta at the State Department in May)

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