What do Chicago restaurants Spiaggia, Table Fifty-Two, Girl and the Goat and Topolobampo have in common? They all feature former “Top Chef” and “Top Chef Masters” contestants in their kitchens. And, not coincidentally, they’ve all been visited by Lady Gaga this year.
Gaga is a big fan of the Bravo cooking competition shows, as evidenced by her trips to Spiaggia. While dining at the Michigan Avenue restaurant Aug. 5, the mega pop star told Spiaggia chef and “Masters” Season 2 contestant Tony Mantuano she’d been rooting for him on TV; when she dropped in back in March, Gaga sought out Spiaggia executive chef Sarah Grueneberg, a finalist on “Top Chef” Season 9.
Gaga (real name: Stefani Germanotta) met Table Fifty-Two chef Art Smith at an “Oprah Winfrey Show” taping and told Winfrey’s former personal chef she was upset he didn’t win the first season of “Masters” (Rick Bayless, who posed for a photo with Gaga when she visited Topolobampo in March, won that season). Smith now calls Gaga a close friend and earlier this year opened a restaurant, Joanne Trattoria, with her father in New York.
“Gaga I so love you for coming (to Table Fifty-Two) tonight for dinner,” Smith tweeted Friday (the restaurant confirmed the visit). “So sorry I wasn't there but my LOVE was:-) I hope you tasted it?”
Gaga — who has been in town visiting rumored boyfriend Taylor Kinney while he films NBC’s “Chicago Fire” — visited Girl and the Goat, which is co-owned by “Top Chef” Season 4 winner Stephanie Izard — Aug. 3. The “Poker Face” singer ate pig face, among other items.
The list of places Gaga has been spotted in Chicago in recent years is long, and includes Delilah’s, Whole Foods in the Gold Coast, Kuma’s Corner, The Chicago Diner, Karyn’s Cooked, Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria in the River North neighborhood and, more recently, Pizano’s Pizza in the Loop with Kinney in the early hours of Aug. 5. Noticeably absent from this list?
Gaga performed at Enclave and the now-closed Manor in 2008 but has seemed to shy away from Chicago’s trendy clubs, for the most part, since then. It appears she didn’t even hit the clubs during Lollapalooza last weekend, when her fellow celebrities were out in full force. Instead, I'm told Gaga attended a small “Chicago Fire” cast get-together Aug. 4 at a private residence. And in case you’re wondering, she went by “Stefani” that night.