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Brunch Kvetch

Dale Levitski shares a few ideas about how not to screw up his favorite meal

"Nothing makes me angrier than a half-assed brunch," Dale Levitski grumbles.

The Top Chef veteran isn't just idly grousing or bashing the folks who work this challenging meal (which can be hell for restaurants). He established his brunch cred via a truly inventive, over-the-top croque-madame (see the recipe) at Trio restaurant in Chicago, and now upholds it every Sunday with a midday boozy blowout at Sinema in Nashville. For him, it's the most sacred meal of the week—and the easiest to screw up.

From hungover servers and picky patrons to overactive kiddies in close proximity to potty-mouthed adults, the meal is rife with potential land mines. Levitski just wants to get everyone tipsy, full and ready for an afternoon nap. He came by the Test Kitchen to make a fried cheese sandwich for the ages and dropped some serious philosophy on what makes brunch a nirvana or a nightmare for guests and staff alike.