Some wives refer to their husbands as maniacs. Let's give

Lauren Hart

the benefit of the doubt.

Hart, the musician and Flyers anthem singer, just saw Todd Carmichael off to the airport.

On Monday, Carmichael, co-owner of La Colombe coffee, will hitch up his custom-made cart (30 gallons of water, 33 pounds of food, 20 pounds of field kit) and set out, alone, on a 170-mile walk across Death Valley near the California-Nevada border.

Carmichael hopes to arrive at his pickup point in 10 days.

"He's a hard guy to keep up with," Hart says. She and his friends will be able to, though. He is outfitted with a GPS beacon.

Carmichael, 47, says he enjoys testing himself - physically and spiritually. In 2008, he became the first American to cross Antarctica to the South Pole on foot unassisted. He tried a Death Valley trek last year but was slowed by soft sand. "I will make it – on my hands and knees, I will make it," he wrote on his online journal.

Diner's journal

The restaurant competition in one slice of Center City is about to hit broil.

Stephen Starr

signed a lease last week for the former Deux Cheminees, in the old Princeton Club at 1221-23 Locust St.

Il Pittore, as the Italian eatery will be known, will place Starr and chef Chris Painter amid Washington Square West competitors Jose Garces, who owns Garces Trading Co. a block away (and is planning a casual spot called Frohmans Wursthaus two blocks away), and Marc Vetri, whose Italian temple Vetri and newer Amis are about two and three blocks away. Il Pittore could open this year.

Starr and Painter had a deal in Queen Village but turned to Locust Street after an L.A. entrepreneur's plan to open an upscale Greek restaurant there collapsed.

Painter (his name translates as pittore) is touring Italy on Starr's dime. When asked the other day when he'd be back, he said he did not know because Starr kept sending him to other towns to eat and gaze at the countryside.

Whiz wit

Cheesesteaks get treatment on two forthcoming TV shows. The focus is not so much on "Which is the best in town?" as it is about the rivalries themselves. Not surprisingly, Pat's Steaks - where the cheesesteak sandwich was invented - appears on both shows.

Wednesday at 10 p.m., the Travel Channel's Food Wars has host Camille Ford shuttling between Pat's and comparative upstart Tony Luke's, gauging reactions from locals as well as Drew Lazor, food editor of Philadelphia City Paper, and Carolyn Wyman, author of The Great Philly Cheesesteak Book. Ford, who ate Steak-umms while growing up in Oregon and Arizona, says she enjoyed the locals who showed up during May's shooting. "They love to cheer for something. Win or lose, they like to take a side."

For its new series Food Feuds, the Food Network imported Iron Chef Michael Symon, a Clevelander. I assist him as he parses the four-decade, cross-street rivalry between Pat's and Geno's at Ninth and Passyunk. The episode premieres at 10 p.m. Oct. 10.

Rolling to New York

Three Philly food trucks will visit New York City on Saturday for the Vendy Awards, the annual benefit for the nonprofit Street Vendor Project of the Urban Justice Center, which works on behalf of New York's more than 850 vendors.

Tom McCusker

of Honest Tom's Tacos,

Renault Hippolyte

of Denise's Soul Food Restaurant, and

Ruth Statt

of Birchrun on a Roll will dispense grub at Governors Island for the sold-out event, at which

Stephen Starr

will be a judge. The Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corp. secured the affiliation and is outfitting the trucks with signs bearing the name of Philly Homegrown, the GPTMC campaign to promote local foods.

Briefly noted

Phillies alumnus

Darren Daulton

will appear at the Chickie's & Pete's at Bensalem's Parx Casino on Monday as a guest on

Mike Missanelli

's sports-talk show on 97.5 the Fanatic from 6 to 7 p.m.; he'll sign autographs afterward.

Huntingdon Valley's Jarrod Spector, still playing Frankie Valli in the Broadway run of Jersey Boys, will use his days off to perform his own concert - Oct. 18 and 25 - at New York's Metropolitan Room (34 W. 22d St.).

Former Miss USA Kristen Dalton no longer is sharing the Rittenhouse Square apartment of Bachelorette alumnus Reid Rosenthal, but the two are still very much together, says Rosenthal, a Realtor. Dalton needed to move to L.A. for work. "We will be together again at some point," Rosenthal says. "Lots of visits."

Gaga for groceries

The Wegmans in Cherry Hill knows when big musical acts are in town. Last week on two occasions, chefs and runners for

Lady Gaga

rolled up to spend, spend, spend. On the first visit, the big takes were chicken breasts, ground turkey, and rolls. The second time, my source says, their bags were packed with $400 in $20-a-pound halibut, rivaling the mess o' fish purchased by

Dave Matthews

' people.