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STAR-STRUCK Sophisticated Seattle diners-out may be puzzled to see kitchen celebrities like Holly Smith (Café Juanita), William Belickis (Mistral), and Eric Banh (Monsoon) described as>"/>
STAR-STRUCK Sophisticated Seattle diners-out may be puzzled to see kitchen celebrities like Holly Smith (Café Juanita), William Belickis (Mistral), and Eric Banh (Monsoon) described as mere "rising stars," but, from the point of view of Starchefs.com, that's just what they are: chefs on the verge of national celebrity but not yet there. That's why StarChefs.com, an online culinary "magazine" is putting the spotlight on them and five other local chefs (including Andaluca's Wayne Johnson, the Hunt Club's Brian Scheehser, and Scott Staples of Restaurant Zöe) at a benefit dinner Nov. 6 at the Hotel Monaco's Sazerac. The Seattle RisingStars event is one of four such being staged around the nation this year; "risers" are selected by the editorial staff of the magazine with input from already certified stars who serve as an advisory board. StarChefs offers certified stars like Mario Batali, Daniel Boulud, and Marcus Samuelsson first-rate Web page support, while lesser food-industry luminaries benefit from the site's job listing and help-wanted services. There's a lot for civilian visitors as well, from food-land gossip to recipe offerings by Star "members." RisingStar status usually precedes nomination to top-chow-dog status, but not always: In November, just in time for the Sazerac blowout, StarChefs will promote Brasa's Tamara Murphy to its pantheon: the only Seattle chef so far to be accorded that honor. LEAVING EARTH The StarChef "rising star" award comes at an auspicious time for another nominee: Johnathan Sundstrom, co-nominated with his superb pastry chef Sue McCown for their work at Earth & Ocean, will depart from the W Hotel's top-rated restaurant in November to set up his own downtown eatery. The menu at Lark (housed in the 12th Avenue space vacated by Capitol Hill Ethiopian restaurant Kokeb) will be less edgy and more basics- oriented than E & O's, in line with his devotion to the local-seasonal-artisanal mantras of the Slow Food movement. LIP-SMACKIN' SNACKIN'? SADLY, NO DrSoy Nutrition claims to have revised "[the] rules of snacking indulgence." Please forgive our skepticism; after all, the California-based company's new line of Healthy Snacker energy bars are in need of serious medical attention. Lucky for us, the doctor is in. Echoing the inspirational words of another well-known Dr., company CEO Ari Babaknia, M.D., spoke out in a recent press release: "I have a dream . . . [ellipsis ours] that one day soon unhealthy eating will be socially as unacceptable as smoking is becoming today." Dr. Babaknia's odds of success? Slim to nil, judging by a Weekly taste test of DrSoy's wares, which produced responses along the lines of "Bleagh!" Still, each Snacker contains just nine grams of sugar, two-thirds the amount in popular rivals Clif Bar (15 grams) and PowerBar (16 grams), and DrSoy bars are rich in protein and Vitamins C and E. So the Snacker might make a more palatable energy bar, but if you're looking to quit munching Milky Ways, we strongly advise you to go cold turkey. Food and/or beverage news? E-mail Hot Dish at firstname.lastname@example.org.