Monday, May 25, 2009

Top Chefs in Columbus

Cliff O'Neill
Columbus, OH

Top Chef: The Tour came to Columbus, Ohio, today. Featured on the program were Top Chef: Chicago (Season Four) winner Stephanie Izzard and Top Chef: New York (Season Five) finalist Ariane Duarte.

On this steamy late Spring day, the pair put on a cooking demonstration for the crowd in front of the city’s historic North Market. Afterwards, they took questions from the audience which ranged from the culinary (“How do you make a nice glaze?”) to the salacious (“Are Hosea and Leah still dating?”).

Asked by a young, aspiring chef what to do to pursue a culinary career, the two agreed that one should work in food in many different capacities, from front-of-house to bussing tables. Stephanie even told of her amusing early experiences working at Olive Garden and having trouble with the pronunciation of “pasta e fagioli” (pasta fa-ZHOOL).

In fact, it seemed like Ariane had to prod the audience to ask about the more gossipy aspects of her reality TV experience. Once asked, she reported what her erstwhile lovebird co-contestants (Season Five winner Hosea Rosenburg and finalist Leah Cohen) have said already: They remain friends and would be closer if they had the slightest desire to live in each other’s towns. (Rosenburg resides in Boulder, CO, while Cohen is married to life in New York City.)

Stephanie volunteered that during her season there was a clause in all the cheftestants’ contracts barring them from “touching” each other. By the next season, Ariane added, that clause was gone.

That was, said Ariane, an indication that the producers were going for more of a “Real World meets Top Chef” vibe going forward.

To laughter, Stephanie added that she didn’t care about the clause, since she didn’t want to touch anyone anyway.

About the manifold Top Chef blogs, the two reported that they were advised by loved ones to not read them, since they can be quite nasty.

(This, of course, made this blogger wince as he thought back to the snarky comments he’s made on his own TC blog. Still, after some reflection, he approached anyway, knowing he was rooting for each of them in their respective seasons.)

Afterwards, the two politely posed for pictures with fans and signed photos and Top Chef merchandise. Ariane reported that her New Jersey restaurant is still booked three weeks out, while an equally affable Stephanie chatted with fans.

Advised of this new blog, the ladies suggested they’d check it out, with Stephanie signing this blogger’s Top Chef Cookbook, “Keep nice blogging!”


Kristine said...

That had to be hard for Stephanie to put on a Buckeyes jersey considering she graduated from U of M. What a sport!! Go Bucks!

Laura said...

Great report! Thanks Cliff. I met Stephanie at an event in Scottsdale and she was adorable. Her parents live here, so I am hoping to see her again.