Sunday, May 30, 2010

Top Chef 7 - Meet Tracey Bloom

AGE: 33
HOMETOWN: Shortsville, NY – currently resides in Atlanta, GA
PROFESSION: Executive Chef, Table 1280
CULINARY EDUCATION: AOS, Culinary Institute of America
FAVORITE RECIPE: English pea salad

Named one of 2008’s “Top 25 Chefs in Atlanta” by The Sunday Paper, Tracey is well known in the Atlanta culinary scene and is currently the Executive Chef at Table 1280, where she shows off her expertise in both the sweet and savory side of culinary arts. After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America, she decided to go down South to launch her culinary career as the opening Pastry Chef at the award winning Sia’s Restaurant in Duluth, GA. Tracey then joined the Buckhead Life Restaurant Group spending most of her time at 103 West under Chef Gary Donlick, before moving on to work as Sous Chef at Asher Restaurant in Roswell, GA, Oscar’s Restaurant in College Park, GA, and Luma in Winter Park, FL. She would have her last meal with Stevie Nicks and she would prepare Turkey salad sandwiches and homemade lemonade.

Video du Jour - Making Dumplings with Susur Lee

Step-by-step diagrams, plus recipes, can be found here.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Top Chef 7 - Meet Timothy Dean

AGE: 39
HOMETOWN: Washington D.C. – currently resides in Baltimore, MD
PROFESSION: Chef/Owner, Prime Steak House
FAVORITE RECIPE: Soft Shell Crab Tempura with Virginia Ramps, Morel Mushroom and Garlic Confit Emulsion

Timothy spent 12 years working on and off with the late, great chef, Jean-Louis Palladin, first at Jean-Louis in the famed Watergate Hotel, and later as Chef de Cuisine at Palladin in New York City. Currently the Chef and owner of Prime Steak House in Baltimore and Prime Steak House by Timothy Dean, which is slated to open this summer in Washington, DC, his first job in a kitchen was a dishwasher. He has worked alongside other notable chefs including Alain Ducasse, Roberto Donna, Guenter Seeger and Patrick Clark. A graduate of Howard University, he was named the university’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2000. His favorite dishes are Maine lobster with mac & cheese and shaved black truffles and pan seared Hudson Valley foie gras with rhubarb and 20-year-old Port wine sauce.

Top Recipe - Top Chef Masters 2 Episode 8

Find the printable recipe for Rick Moonen's Spice Crusted Swordfish here.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Top Chef 7 - Meet Tiffany Derry

AGE: 26
HOMETOWN: Beaumont, TX – currently resides in Dallas
PROFESSION: Executive Chef, Go Fish Ocean Club
CULINARY EDUCATION: AOS, The Art Institute of Houston
FAVORITE RECIPE: Spring risotto

Tiffany, a native Texan, definitely flaunts the “Don’t Mess with Texas” attitude. She began working in the kitchen when she was 15 at IHOP where she learned speed, and by 17, her leadership skills in the business were evident as she became the youngest person to ever be in management there. She competed in ACF competitions to help pay for culinary school where she finished in the top of her class. In addition, she received her seafood training from Houston’s Pesce Restaurant while still in school. Shortly after graduation, she went on to become the Executive Sous Chef of Grotto Cucina. Next, she returned to the Art Institute of Houston to do her other passion, teach culinary. In 2008, she was named Executive Chef of the Dallas hotspot Go Fish Ocean Club, which has received many accolades. Dijon, Creole mustard, champagne vinegar, kosher salt and Creole seasoning are the five ingredients she always has on hand.

Exit Interviews - Top Chef Masters 2 Episode 8

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Free Kaya Toast at STREET!

Last night, Susan Feniger's run on Top Chef Masters came to a close, after winning $32,500 for her favorite charity, Scleroderma Research Foundation. She lost with Kaya Toast, one of the most popular dishes at Susan Feniger's STREET. Following the loss, Susan decided to offer free Kaya Toast (one per party) from 5 to 7pm at STREET each day from now through Wed, June 2 for anyone who says the secret words "Pack Your Knives." She hopes that those who try Kaya Toast will go to to share their opinion about the traditional Singapore hangover recipe.

Top Chef 7 - Meet Tamesha Warren

AGE: 24
HOMETOWN: Christ Church, Barbados – currently resides in Washington, DC
PROFESSION: Sous Chef, The Oval Room
CULINARY EDUCATION: AOS, The Art Institute of New York City
FAVORITE RECIPE: White asparagus soup

Born and raised in Barbados, Tamesha graduated from The Art Institute of New York City where she was on the President’s List. She went on to work at the world famous Jean Georges restaurant in NYC and was honored with gold and silver medals from the American Culinary Federation. Tamesha is currently the Sous Chef at The Oval Room, one of “Washington’s Power Restaurants,” located next to the White House and owned by Ashok Bajaj, one of the Capital’s biggest restaurateurs. Interested in playing with molecular elements, Tamesha cooks modern American food with French and Asian influences and is sure to bring a youthful, modern edge to the competition.

Congratulations, Chef Moonen

Chef Moonen, congratulations to you for winning both the Quickfire and the Elimination Challenges this week! Your strong sense of taste got you through three rounds of sauces, and your talent with seafood once again proved to be your strong suit. Your encrusted swordfish with "crimson" potatoes and root vegetables was deliciously hellish. And you seemed to really enjoy acting "diabolical" in the kitchen, which revealed your sense of fun.

Only two weeks left before we find out who wins Top Chef Master. None of us would be surprised if it turned out to be Chef Moonen.

This post is only for positive comments about Chef Moonen's work. If you have anything negative to say about him or any of his competition, please do so here.

ATC Love to Chef Susan Feniger

Chef Susan Feniger was the Last Female Chef Standing for a couple of weeks, and she even swept last week's competition. However, this was not her week to shine. Despite being a crowd favorite at her new restaurant, Street, her coconut jam toast with fried egg did not wow the judges (the diners didn't seem to hate it as much, however). While it may have been a sensual enough dish for the goddess Aphrodite, it was not a winner to this week's critics.

Chef Feniger, we've long admired your work and are sorry to see you go. We wish you much continued success and we hope your enthusiasm for the culinary arts continues making diners happy for many years to come.

This post is only for positive comments about Chef Feniger's work. If you have anything negative to say about her or any of her competition, please do so here.

Reactions to Top Chef Masters 2 Episode 8

In week 8 of Top Chef Masters, we find ourselves left with five chefs, all great contenders for the title and the big prize. But, as Kelly Choi reminds us each week, only one can win, yadda yadda....

This week's Quickfire is the "Ultimate Taste Test" which pits these chefs against each other in a game of "Name That Ingredient" as they taste sauces and, well, name the ingredients. First we see Susur v. Marcus, in which Susur, the self-proclaimed "Sauce-Tasting Master" smokes the competition by naming 6 ingredients in a sauce chausseur. Rick Moonen then beats out his opponent Susan Feniger in their half of the first round. Round two pits odd man out Jonathan Waxman against Rick and Susur in battle Thai Green Curry. Jonathan guesses "butter" as an ingredient, the buzzer sounds, and we're left with Rick v. Susur in the final round. Rick wins because apparently Susur puts garlic in his lobster sauce. Well, I guess Chinese lobster sauce *does* have garlic in it.

On to the Elimination Challenge. The chefs must draw knives bearing the names of Greek gods from which they must be inspired to create a dish which will serve as part of a tasting menu for 50 people. Jonathan draws Poseidon, Susan gets Aphrodite, Marcus gets Ares, Rick gets Hades, and Susur gets Dionysus, which he neither knows nor cares about. Plus he can't pronounce it. Poor Susur - first he must deal with the Mystery of Tailgating, now he's face with the Mystery of Some Greek God He Doesn't Give a Rat's Ass About.

A trip to Whole Foods has three of the five clamoring over the seafood counter, trying to buy everything before Rick Moonen, the Fish Guy, buys it all. Moonen, who is inspired by Hades, decides that he need to play diabolical because "someone has to be the bad guy" and spends the rest of the episode laughing evilly. Somehow, it's charming, but then I've been a fan of Moonen for years.

After shopping and some prep time, the chefs presumably go home for the evening. After a commercial break, we are led to believe it is the next day and see the chefs file back into the kitchen to find Kelly, wearing the same outfit she wore the day before. The kitchen doors open to reveal...not the expected cruel twist...but men wheeling in a large French Alps-shaped birthday cake for Jonathan Waxman who turned 59. Ordinarily he spends his birthday in the Alps with his family (rough life) but this year the Alps came to him. Despite it's cheese-tastic-ality, it's pretty obvious that cake didn't come from Charm City Cakes.

The day before, Marcus had been bragging in a voice over how he was the youngest competitor of the five and how fit he was. Today we hear him bitching and moaning about a sore back, and hey - no chefs to whom to delegate the hard work. Karma can be a bitch.

After birthday cake-eating and final prepping, the chefs take their noms to the Top Chef Masters Dining Room and the people start flooding in. The critics this week are Gael, Gail, and Jay (Oseland apparently still felt too manly from last week's football festivities). They seem to both like and find fault in every chef's dish but at Judges' Table it is revealed that Marcus and Rick were the favorites. Rick's slightly overcooked swordfish from hell wins with 18 points. On the bottom side of things, Susur squeaks by to safety with 15 points, and it's looking like the Birthday Boy might get the axe. But it's Susan, with a measly 10.5 points for her eggs and toast with coconut jam who gets the boot. Boo! No more female's between the four men. Bah.

What did you think about the episode? Please let us know in the comments!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Top Chef - The Tour Date Change

According to the current schedule, the Top Chef Tour is supposed to be in San Francisco on June 12th. That has now been changed to Friday, June 11th - please mark your calendars accordingly!

Just a Few Short Weeks Left...

...before Top Chef Masters ends and Top Chef DC starts! And at some point in 2010, we're bound to get Top Chef: Just Desserts and Top Chef Kids (or Junior or whatever it's called -been awhile since Bravo's mentioned that one).

Have you checked out the Minx's vision for yet another Top Chef spin-off series? You'll find part one here and part two here.

Top Chef 7 - Meet Stephen Hopcraft

AGE: 40
HOMETOWN: Cleveland, OH – currently resides in Las Vegas, NV
PROFESSION: Executive Chef, Seablue at the MGM Grand
CULINARY EDUCATION: AOS, California Culinary Academy in San Francisco
FAVORITE RECIPE: Agholitti, a small pasta filled with goat cheese tossed in olive oil and tomato water.

Over-the-top and without a filter, Stephen has spent more than 12 years establishing new restaurants nationwide for award-winning chef and restaurateur Michael Mina. Currently the Executive Chef at Mina’s Seablue, the AAA Four Diamond restaurant at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas, he has also worked alongside other high-profile chefs including Thomas Keller and Charlie Trotter. A proud father of 14-month-old twins, Stephen’s style is all about putting a playful twist on classic dishes to create cutting-edge food.

Previews for Top Chef Masters 2 Episode 8

A classic Top Chef Quickfire challenge returns when the remaining five chefs must play a round of ‘Name That Ingredient’ – which Master will prove to know the details of their craft? And for the elimination round, it’s a battle of heavenly proportions as the chefs are challenged to create a culinary masterpiece inspired by a Greek God. With all this pressure though, it seems as if some of the cheftestants are wearing down. Will they be able to shape up in time for elimination? Find out tonight, 5/26, @ 10/9c on BRAVO's Top Chef Masters!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Top Chef Masters - Perfectly Delish

There's a new video series on called "Perfectly Delish," starring Top Chef Masters finalist Susan Feniger and Top Chef season 2 cheftestant Betty Fraser. So far, only two episodes are available and I can't seem to get the embed codes to work for either of them, but they're worth a gander.

Will post them here when I can.

Top Chef 7 - Meet Lynne Gigliotti

AGE: 51
HOMETOWN: Philadelphia, PA– currently resides in Hyde Park, NY
PROFESSION: Assistant Professor, Culinary Institute of America
CULINARY EDUCATION: AOS, Culinary Institute of America
FAVORITE RECIPE: Anything with peas and asparagus

A Chef for over 30 years, Lynne is looking to break the glass ceiling for female chefs by becoming only the second woman to become a Certified Master Chef. Currently an Assistant Professor at the CIA, where she said she would never step foot after graduation, Lynne previously was the Chef/Owner of Grappa, which was featured in Atlanta Magazine’s “Best of 1999” and named an Outstanding Restaurant in the 2001 Zagat Guide Atlanta. Ice cream is her favorite dish to make and also her favorite junk food.

Recap Roundup: Top Chef Masters 2 Episode 7

Goooo team! This week, our Masters were all about the sports, both on land and at sea. So how'd that work out for them? Let's ask the bloggers:

Jordan Baker summarizes: "I'm EXTREMELY excited for Susan being the first chef to sweep an episode. She's a little dynamo, and one of my absolute favorites. As to the rest of it: Tony blah blah blah. Leaving blah blah blah. Kind of a dick blah blah blah."

TWOP on Jay's Quickfire mood: "Susan wins with cumin-cilantro chicken with pickled tomatoes on quinoa and raisin pilaf. Jay seemed especially grouchy during judging, and most of the other chefs got quite low scores."

Slashfood on Susan's perky past: "Once, years ago, in a faraway time and place we'd rather be living in, Susan Feniger was a cheerleader... As she rallied up the crowd with her inimitable squawk and backwards baseball cap, Susan revealed her school spirit -- as well as her long-buried pom-pom memories, evidenced in a black-and-white candid of Susan in a pleated skirt and Mad Men hairdo, with an ear-to-ear grin and outspread arms."

Daily Loaf on Quickfire planning: "These Quickfire Challenges just seem to get more and more ridiculous, for example, this week’s 'leg protein' challenge. Alright, I get that they were all supposed to use leg meat (do squid tentacles really count as legs?), but inviting an Olympic gold medalist swimmer who finished the 'last leg' of the Men’s 400m freestyle relay just doesn’t make sense to me. What does he know about food?!" on Susan's plating issues: "Susan gets called out for her sloppy plating, and deservedly so—she's been doing it all season long. I don't know why she's surprised by this! During last week's elimination challenge, her plate looked like a buffet threw up on it because everything was just thrown on it haphazardly; had she just, say, presented everything in tiny bowls on a plate like Indians or Koreans do, it would've looked beautiful and worked perfectly."

Serious Eats on Rick's octopus obsession (with some gratuitous Bieber thrown in): "In a move that surprised exactly no one, seafood master Rick Moonen ran to the octopus faster than Ina Garten to a bottle of good vanilla. It proved to be a bit of a challenge for him, since trying to cook octopus in 45 minutes is a bit like trying to pinpoint exactly what's wrong with Justin Bieber's hair: impossible."

Grub Street rates the judges: "Best Judge Banter: 'I don’t know about you guys, but I am feeling more like a manly American by the minute,' James said as he bit into another taco. Touché to Jay, then, who retorted, 'James, any plate of food that can do that to you is a miracle."

Speakeasy (WSJ) on Susur's new world: "We could easily frame this season’s 'Top Chef Master’s' as a 'stranger in a strange land' theme, starring Susur Lee. He’s mystified by everything, yet resoundingly ebullient. Last week, he had never heard of ‘The Simpsons’, and this week, he’s introduced to tailgating."

CBS News on Tony's downfall: "For the most part, the chefs stayed pretty traditional, steaks, tacos and chicken, except for Chef Tony Mantuano, who went for grilled pizza. It's a differentiator, but a risk."

LikeMe Daily backtracks on Susan: "I take back what I said last week about Susan Feniger. She proved to be this week’s Top Chef Masters MVP, handily winning both the Quickfire and the elimination challenge. I’m still convinced she wakes and bakes before deciding on what to cook, and her presentation leaves much to be desired, but nonetheless, she’s a stronger competitor than I initially figured."

TVGasm has a good question: "Did it seem weird that the two guys who understood the least about tailgating did better than the three who knew all about it?"

Monday, May 24, 2010

Top Chef 7 - Meet Kevin Sbraga

AGE: 31
HOMETOWN: Willingboro, NJ – currently resides in Willingboro, NJ
PROFESSION: Executive Chef, Rat’s Restaurant at the Grounds for Sculpture
CULINARY EDUCATION: BS, Culinary Arts from Johnson and Wales in Miami, FL
A self-proclaimed “beast in the kitchen” with unrivaled knife skills, Kevin is currently the Executive Chef at Rat’s at the Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton, NJ, which is managed by Stephen Starr. After earning his BS of Culinary Arts from Johnson and Wales in Miami, Kevin went on to become the Chef de Cuisine at The Grill at Philadelphia’s Ritz-Carlton Hotel and was included in the 2007 list of “Top 10 Chefs” by Philadelphia Style magazine. In 2008, Kevin served as the Culinary Director of Garces Restaurant Group and was named winner of Best Meat Presentation at Bocuse d’Or USA. This African American, Italian chef declares he’s the “Barack Obama of the cooking game” and wants to prove that “he can.”

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Top Chef 7 - Meet Kenny Gilbert

AGE: 36
HOMETOWN: Euclid, OH – currently resides in Telluride, CO
PROFESSION: President/Owner, Passionate Culinary Enterprises LLC; Chef/Partner, G’s Restaurant Group
CULINARY EDUCATION: Pennsylvania Institute of Culinary Arts
FAVORITE RECIPE: A tomato and mozzarella salad with an onion marmalade

Kenny is the President/Owner of Passionate Culinary Enterprises and Chef/Partner for G's Restaurant Group. His cuisine ranges from American Regional, Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese, Italian, Middle Eastern, Indian, Native American, Moroccan and African. After graduating from the Pennsylvania Culinary Institute, Kenny went on to become a Chef de Cuisine at the young age of 23 at The Grill at The Ritz-Carlton in Amelia Island, FL, a AAA Five Diamond Restaurant, and the youngest African-American chef ever to run a Ritz-Carlton Hotel restaurant. An intense and no-nonsense chef, Kenny once split his pants open while cooking a 10-course meal and didn’t even blink an eye. If he could have his last meal with anyone, it would be President Obama, and he would prepare a modern American Southern meal.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Top Chef 7 - Meet Kelly Liken

AGE: 33
HOMETOWN: Pittsburgh, PA – currently resides in Vail, CO
PROFESSION: Chef/Owner, Kelly Liken in Vail and Rick & Kelly’s American Bistro in Edwards, CO
CULINARY EDUCATION: AOS, Culinary Institute of America

FAVORITE RECIPE: Parmesan-mascarpone tortellini with spring vegetables and crispy artichokes
Graduating first in her class at the Culinary Institute of America, Kelly is one of the country’s most promising female chefs. In 2008, she was featured in Bon Appetit’s “Women Chefs: The Next Generation” and was a 2009 and 2010 James Beard Semi-Finalist for Best Chef Southwest. A small town girl at heart, she has passed up on offers from heavyweight chefs including Charlie Trotter and Daniel Boulud to stay in Colorado where she feels grounded. Kelly cooks seasonal American cuisine with a strong commitment to locally sourced organic ingredients. She loves to make soup, lamb and anything grilled.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Top Chef 7 - Meet John Somerville

AGE: 42
HOMETOWN: Ohio -- Currently resides in West Bloomfield, MI
PROFESSION: Chef de Cuisine, The Lark
CULINARY EDUCATION: BS In Engineering, University of Michigan
FAVORITE RECIPE: Spiced Spring cucumbers with dill

Growing up in rural Ohio, John developed an appreciation for farm fresh ingredients at a young age. He attended the University of Michigan and earned a degree in Engineering before deciding to pursue his culinary dream. In 1994, he joined The Lark as a Garde Manger, working his way up the ladder to his current position as Chef de Cuisine. He has received two James Beard Nominations for Best Chef: Great Lakes (2008 and 2009) and is recognized as one of the best chefs in the greater Detroit area. His philosophy is “spreading the infectious spirit of cooking!”

Top Recipe - Top Chef Masters 2 Episode 7

You can find a written version of the recipe here.

Exit Interviews - Top Chef Masters 2 Episode 7

Thursday, May 20, 2010

All Top Chef Interview with Tony Mantuano

Master Chef Tony Mantuano talks about his experience on the show.

Click here for the podcast.

Thanks Chef Tony!

Top Chef 7 - Meet Jacqueline Lombard

AGE: 33
HOMETOWN: Grew up in Boston, MA – currently resides in Brooklyn, NY
PROFESSION: Chef/Owner, Jacqueline Lombard Events
CULINARY EDUCATION: French Culinary Institute, WSET, The Sommelier Society of America
FAVORITE RECIPE: Summer Corn Risotto with Butter-Poached Lobster, Black Truffles and Green Onions

Jacqueline is a private chef, sommelier and event producer whose company, Jacqueline Lombard Events, caters to both private and corporate clients nationwide, including Balenciaga, Glamour, Jil Sander, Miele USA, Osklen, Bergdorf Goodman, Barterhouse Imports, Stella McCartney, Wines of Argentina, ViniPortugal, and Wine Enthusiast Magazine, among many others. Her chic, seasonal and sustainable approach to her work has garnered her praise for both the quality of her food, wine education and business practices. Recently Jacqueline revived the venerable Florent restaurant as Executive Chef of Gansevoort 69. Currently she is working on an exciting new concept, serving as Executive Chef of Leña in New York City. Jacqueline is also the Dining & Wine Editor of the

Congratulations, Chef Susan Feniger!

This week was Chef Feniger's time to shine, and that she did by winning both the Quickfire and the Elimination Challenges. The only woman left in the competition, she showed the boys that she can keep up with and surpass them all. Way to go!

Her dishes were both full of flavor, and even though the QF chicken dish wasn't pretty, taste is what really counted with the judges. As for her skirt steak tacos, was there really any doubt she could win a tailgate party contest with those beauties?

Congrats, Chef. Keep up the good work and we'll see you in the finale (fingers crossed).

This post is only for positive comments about Chef Feniger's work. If you have anything negative to say about her or her competition, please do so here.

ATC Love to Chef Tony Mantuano

Chef Mantuano got cut this week because his tailgate pizza didn't make the grade with the judges. Although it was a great idea - grilled pizza! yum!- and Chef Mantuano was happy with it, certain judges thought the crust didn't work. Seems a paltry quibble, as I'm sure it was many times better than any commercial pizza crust out there, but that's the way it goes.

Chef Tony, we were happy to see you in the Championship Round and wished you could have stuck around longer. We wish you continued success at Spiaggia and your other restaurant ventures. Say hi to the President for us.

This post is only for positive comments about Chef Mantuano's work. If you have anything negative to say about him or any of his competition, please do so here.

Reactions to Top Chef Masters 2 Episode Seven

This week's episode was all about sports! YEAAAHH!!! [Insert Manly Grunt and Chest Thump Here] The Quickfire Challenge required our intrepid Masters to create dishes with leg meat. Judging this contest was Olympic gold medalist, swimmer Jason Lezak, who presumably has some great gams, and Jay Rayner, whose legs we probably don't care to see.

Jonathan and Tony both chose to work with crab legs; Susur took leg of lamb; Susan chose chicken; Rich took octopus for some inexplicable reason; and Marcus took frog. In the end, the chicken won this race, winning $5K for Susan Feniger's charity, the Scleroderma Research Foundation.

More sports in the Elimination Challenge, this time USC Football! A re-hash of season 4's Tailgate Party contest, won by Dale Talde, the Masters had to feed 100 rabid Trojans fans. They were supplied with enormous Weber kettle grills and given $500 to shop. And Susan gets some Trojans gear to wear while cooking.

Susur, being from China and living primarily in Canada, had no clue about tailgating and tailgate food, which was kind of cute. And nobody bothered to explain it to him, which seemed unusual because these Masters usually seem to be looking out for one another. Well, apart from Marcus, that is.

Jonathan made freeform strip steak tacos with guacamole. Susan also made tacos, with skirt steak and oodles of salsas. But then one would expect tacos from one of the Too Hot Tamales. Especially since she owns a taco truck. Rick Moonen took tacos into a whole different part of the world by making chermoula-spiced chicken on pita. Tony cleverly decided to make pizza on the grill. Susur did a Korean spiced steak with a bizarre Austrian dumpling. And Marcus, despite rolling his eyes at Susur's cluelessness made a soup...and a burger with chickpea flour in it.

Gael Greene, Jay Rayner, and James Oseland were this week's judges. Oseland said at one point that he was feeling like a manly American after eating so much tailgate food. Despite this, he seemed extra petulant and bitchy during Judges' Table.

In the end, Susan took home the prize with her tacos, and Tony, whose pizza crust did not please Miss Oseland, got the boot.

So what did you think? Please leave a comment!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

TC News & Information 5.19.10

On May 19th, Top Chef Masters season 1 winner Rick Bayless will be cooking in the White House for a state dinner that will honor President Felipe Calderón of Mexico.

Check out the Cooking for Solutions celebration on May 21-22, 2010 at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Top Chefs in attendance will be Masters Rick Bayless and Rick Moonen, and TC6's Kevin Gillespie. For more details, click here.

Check out the interview with new Top Chef judge Eric Ripert at Eater.

Here's an article on Top Chefs in LA from

Top Chef 7 - Meet Ed Cotton

AGE: 32
HOMETOWN: Boston, MA – currently resides in New York City
PROFESSION: Executive Chef, Plein Sud at the Smyth Hotel
CULINARY EDUCATION: AOS, Culinary Institute of America
FAVORITE RECIPE: Fresh Farm Egg Ravioli with a silky English pea puree, spring onion fondue and crispy pancetta

In high school, Ed got an early start on his culinary career working for acclaimed chef Todd English at Olives where he began to hone his knife and pastry skills before helping open Figs in Wellesley, MA. After culinary school, he rejoined English working at Olives in Boston and Las Vegas. After spending a year out west, he returned to Boston to become the Executive Sous Chef at the award-winning No.9 Park in Beacon Hill where he worked alongside Barbara Lynch. From there, he set his sights on the Big Apple where he landed a job working with Daniel Boulud at db Bistro Moderne and Daniel. For more than five years, he worked with Boulud, helping him open eateries across the country. Before joining Plein Sud earlier this year where he has been cooking up a storm, Ed was the Chef de Cuisine at BLT Market and loves to make any dish with rabbit.

Top Chef Masters 2 Episode 7 Previews

The game is on as the ‘Masters’ are charged with the task of cooking one of the most difficult parts on any animal – the leg. Which chef will take the lead in this Quickfire round and please guest-judge Olympic Gold Medalist swimmer Jason Lezak? And in the spirit of competition, the elimination challenge brings the chefs to a University of Southern California home football game where they must perfect the art of tailgating for several hundred hungry fans, will they manage to be a crowd-pleaser or get boo-ed out of the stadium? Find out tonight 5/19 @ 10/9c on BRAVO’s Top Chef Masters 2 More info:

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

All Top Chef Interview with Jody Adams

Top Chef Masters contestant, Jody Adams talks about her experience on the show, her career and her charity.

Click here for the podcast.

Click here to learn more about Partners in Health.

Click here to visit the Rialto website.

Thank you Chef Adams.

Top Chef 7 - Meet Arnold Myint

AGE: 32
HOMETOWN: Nashville, TN
PROFESSION: Chef/Owner, Cha Chah
CULINARY EDUCATION: Culinary Arts Diploma, Institute of Culinary Education
FAVORITE RECIPE: Anything with peas

Inspired by his mother who has run a successful restaurant for over 30 years, Arnold is the Executive Chef and owner of three popular restaurants in Nashville: Cha Chah, which was voted Best New Restaurant by Nashville Scene (2009), Suzy Wong's House of Yum and PM. Once a competitive professional figure skater, Arnold is also an expert mixologist, savvy event planner and has been known to appear as Suzy Wong herself to promote his latest concept. Arnold's culinary approach is mirrored by his colorful life.

Recap Roundup: Top Chef Masters 2 Episode 6

The geoduck is back...and not at all the weirdest protein on the table. Plus, we learn about what counts for good TV in the China of Susur's childhood, that Waxman gets stressed like the rest of us, and that sea cucumbers are slugs. Speaking of slugs (I kid!), here's what the bloggers have to say:

Jordan Baker on Susur & Marge: "Susur gets a drawing of Marge and a description of her from Jonathan, who apparently tells him she has 'beeg hair an’ roun’ eyes, and is really loving the pork chops.' Or that’s how Susur interprets the information. I want Susur to come to work with me and interpret my boss’s instructions. 'Ok, you fix old website and then you answer correspondence and then you really loving the pork chops.'"

Reality Wanted on what Springfield apparently needs: "Jonathan channels Bart and makes Spaghetti Bambino with Grilled Tomato, Ham and Cheese Sandwich. The judges love the food and say it is the dish that would unite Springfield."

Gawker on Gael: "Ok, the moral of tonight's episode is: If you're gonna let Gael Greene sample your exotic meats, you'd better be prepared to perform!!"

TVgasm on Andrew Zimmern's mmm-tastic job: "Naturally this means that the judge is Andrew Zimmern, that bald-headed guy with the bad teeth who has that show on the Travel Channel where he gets to travel the world and (according to Tyler Florence at least) eat camel cock and yak testicles. Now that's a palate worth listening to critiques from, right?"

Serious Eats teases Snooki fans everywhere: "For this week's Quickfire challenge, host Kelly Choi told the chefs they'd be creating a meal for "true icons known in every part of the world." No, guys, not the cast of Jersey Shore... but The Simpsons!"

(Side note: Would the Jersey Shore cast be the best Top Chef judges ever? No? Oh, is that just me? Hey, at least we know the girls eat, which is more than we can say for some past judges.)

TWOP on the big goodbye: "And the chef with the lowest score is Jody, who even admitted that her rare goat was maybe not the best choice."

CBS News on crazy proteins: "Its great theatre to see the chefs work with ingredients that aren’t just not on their usual menus; they are way out of their comfort zones. For these master chefs, the unusual proteins meant a return to their cooking roots."

Speakeasy (WSJ) on Waxman's anxiety: "Jonathan Waxman, normally unflappable, admits to wandering around Whole Foods 'in a fog,' and later, he says he woke up at 3 a.m. with anxiety about how to proceed."

Food Network Musings on chicken, well, parts: "Noteworthy moments: Susur admitting that he’s eaten chicken testicles (I don't want that much personal information about chickens) AND that he liked them."

It Happened Last Night on Bacongate: "While cooking, Susur mistakes Tony's pan of bacon fat as garbage and throws his scraps in there. Oops. Especially when the judges claim they would like more bacon taste in Tony's dish."

Creative Loafing on the lack of Simpsons in China: "Susur seemed to get the short end of the stick having grown up in China and not being too familiar with the show, but saved face (pun intended) with a dish that looked like a Picasso-esque effigy of Marge Simpson "

Monday, May 17, 2010

Video du Jour - The Voltaggios at Preakness

Maryland's own Voltaggio brothers, Top Chef season 6 winner Michael and runner-up Bryan prepare hometown favorites at one of their home state's big events of the year.


Top Chef University


"Learn Everything You've Always Wanted To Know About Cooking in This Comprehensive Culinary Program Taught By Your Favorite Chef'testants"

NEW YORK - May 17, 2010 - For fans of the No.1 food show on cable, May 19, 2010 will be a day to celebrate with the launch of Top Chef University (, the web's most comprehensive, user-friendly culinary academy. Based on the Emmy-nominated Bravo series of the same name and featuring content from some of the show's most popular "chef'testants," Top Chef University offers over 200 in-depth lessons across 12 courses in an unmatched curriculum that encompasses everything from "Kitchen Basics and Technique" to "Entertaining, Molecular and Advanced Culinary Skills". With over 60 hours of material, insatiable fans will finally have a destination that will fulfill their culinary aspirations. Users can purchase one course per month for $24.95 and for a total of $199.95, students can gain immediate access to the entire curriculum for a year.

Culinary Director Anthony Hoy Fong and "Top Chef's" own resident judge Gail Simmons, also of Food & Wine Magazine, created an innovative and comprehensive curriculum, covering everything from basic knife skills and preparation, to correct cooking techniques and insight into advanced culinary trends"

Top Chef University, perfect for everyone from experienced foodies to the home cook, is a fraction of the cost of traditional culinary school and provides access to virtual courses 24/7. Along the way, students will be tested on their culinary acumen receiving report cards that track their progress towards their "Top Chef" certification. Interactive features of this ultimate learning experience include webinars with some of the chefs as well as forums where members can post questions to be answered by accomplished and hand-picked experts in the culinary field.

"We're pleased to extend the Top Chef brand into an experiential product that is accessible, user-friendly, and educational," said Jennifer Turner, Vice President, Licensing and Strategic Partnerships, Bravo Media and Oxygen Media. "Top Chef University gives fans the opportunity to learn from their favorite chef'testants as well as for people who don't currently watch the show, but want to have comprehensive cooking instruction. We want to create innovative brand extensions that resonate with fans as well as a broader audience that loves food, and Top Chef University is a great example."

Commenting on the new site, creator Jeff Goldenberg of Post Oak Productions, said: "Top Chef is one of television's most popular franchises and we are delighted to be extending this property to the web with what we believe to be the ultimate destination for culinary education. We have developed the site with like-minded, food lovers in mind and believe our top-notch curriculum and instructors will be a real asset to those fans who want to learn from the best in the business."

Anthony Hoy Fong, the site's culinary advisor, added: "This coursework is designed for anyone and everyone who has ever dreamed of expanding their culinary knowledge and it is a thrill to have been part of the creative process from the ground up."

Courses available from Top Chef University are:

* Basics and Techniques
* Stocks, Soups, Sauces, Raw
* Cooking Techniques I: Sauté, Boil, Grill
* Cooking Techniques II: Roast, Braise, Fry, Confit
* Vegetables, Eggs, Dairy, Cheese
* Poultry/Pig
* Beef/Lamb/Offal
* Fish, Seafood
* Pasta Grains, Bread
* Desserts
* Global Cuisine
* Entertaining, Molecular, Advanced Technique

The instructors include some of "Top Chef's" fan favorites and finalists:

* Ariane Duarte, "Top Chef: New York"
* Brian Malarkey, "Top Chef: Miami"
* Carla Hall, Finalist, "Top Chef: New York"
* Chris ‘CJ’ Jacobson, "Top Chef: Miami"
* Dale Levitski, Finalist, "Top Chef: Miami"
* Kevin Gillespie, Finalist and Fan Favorite, "Top Chef: Las Vegas"
* Marcel Vigneron, Finalist, "Top Chef: Los Angeles”
* Nikki Cascone, "Top Chef: Chicago"
* Richard Blais, Finalist, "Top Chef: Chicago"
* Spike Mendelsohn, "Top Chef: Chicago"
* Stephanie Izard, Winner and Fan Favorite, "Top Chef: Chicago"

Top Chef 7 - Meet Angelo Sosa

AGE: 35
PROFESSION: Chef/Owner, Xie Xie
CULINARY EDUCATION: AOS, Culinary Institute of America
FAVORITE RECIPE: Steamed madai snapper with lily bulbs

Angelo, who opened his Asian-influenced sandwich restaurant Xie Xie (“thank you” in Mandarin) in July 2009, has worked with some of the best chefs and restaurateurs in the world. Early in his career, he met Jean-Georges Vongerichten who became his mentor, and went on to work for him at Jean Georges, Dune and Spice Market, where he served as Executive Sous Chef. Shortly thereafter, he was invited by Alain Ducasse to create a special seasonal menu at his Paris restaurant Spoon Food & Wine, the first American to receive such an honor. Angelo, who also created the menu for Buddakan, the Stephen Starr hotspot restaurant in NYC, always has salt, Japanese fish sauce, cinnamon, green cardamom and lily bulbs handy in the kitchen.

Kelly's Got Legs

Kelly Choi at the launch party for Belvedere Pink Grapefruit in NY last week. Don't bend over, girlfriend!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Top Chef 7 - Meet Andrea Curto-Randazzo

AGE: 39
HOMETOWN: Vero Beach, FL – currently resides in Miami, FL
PROFESSION: Chef/Owner, Talula Restaurant and Creative Tastes Catering
CULINARY EDUCATION: AOS, Culinary Institute of America
FAVORITE RECIPE: Fresh berries with zabaglione

Andrea has been a rising star in the culinary world ever since she graduated from the CIA with honors. After working in the kitchens at Tribeca Grill and Aja in NYC, she returned to Miami where she worked at The Heights and Wish. In 2000, during her tenure at Wish, she was named one of Food & Wine Magazine’s “Best New Chefs.” In 2003, she and her husband, Frank, opened their own restaurant, Talula, which was named “The Place To Be Now” by The New York Times. A mother of three, she counts chocolate pudding, ice cream and popcorn with Raisinettes as some of her favorite indulgences.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Top Chef 7 - Meet Amanda Baumgarten

AGE: 27
HOMETOWN: Los Angeles, CA – currently resides in Los Angeles
PROFESSION: Sous Chef, Ford’s Filling Station
CULINARY EDUCATION: Le Cordon Bleu in London
FAVORITE RECIPE: Roasted baby lamb with pomme cocotte persillade

A Los Angeles native, Amanda attended Le Cordon Bleu in London and went on to work at four different Michelin-starred restaurants including La Tante Claire and Le Gavroche in London and Melisse and Patina in LA. From there, she went onto become Executive Sous Chef of Paperfish before joining Ford’s Filling Station as Executive Chef. A gifted butcher with a distinct sense of flavor and style, Amanda loves to make any meat on the bone, but her favorite dish to prepare is Foie Gras Torohon.

Exit Interviews - Top Chef Masters 2 Episode 6

Video du Jour - Top Chef Masters Challenge on Today

Friday, May 14, 2010

Top Chef 7 - Meet Alex Reznik

AGE: 33
HOMETOWN: Brooklyn, NY – currently resides in Hollywood, CA
PROFESSION: Executive Chef, Ivan Kane’s Café Was
CULINARY EDUCATION: AOS, Le Cordon Bleu in Las Vegas, NV
FAVORITE RECIPE: Avocado panna cotta with pickled ramps and tomato

Growing up in Brooklyn, the son of a first-generation European family, food was an integral part of Alex's early life. Watching his Russian mother and grandmother cooking in preparation for the daily ritual of good food and conversation set Alex on a path towards creative cooking. After travelling extensively throughout Europe, Alex found himself working in Las Vegas at the legendary, five-star restaurant, Lutecé. During his tenure as chef at multiple Bally's/Paris resort restaurants, Alex met famed nightlife entrepreneur, Ivan Kane. The two discovered a shared philosophy for great food and impeccable service. Thus was born Hollywood's Ivan Kane's Cafe Was. Alex's philosophy is to marry local, seasonal ingredients with classic French techniques to create honest, Californian bistro cuisine. Today, in the kitchen or dining room, Alex's passion for his craft is lauded by loyal customers and critics alike.

Top Recipe - Top Chef Masters 2 Episode 6

A print version of Chef Susur Lee's recipe for the winning dish is found here.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Newsflash: Toby Young Out, Eric Ripert In!

Hunky chef Eric Ripert will be playing the role of "regular guest judge" for the seventh season of Top Chef. What do you think about that? And...what we really want to know is...

And the News We've All Been Waiting For....

Bravo brings the show to D.C. with 17 new chefs in what truly is an All-American season. Some guests you can expect to see include Apollo Astronaut Buzz Aldrin, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, White House chef Sam Kass, MSNBC host Joe Scarborough, Congressman Aaron Schock of Illinois, Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, CIA Director Leon Panetta and NBC White House Correspondent Savannah Guthrie.

NEW YORK – May 13, 2010 – Taste the culinary power on the seventh season of the No. 1 food show on cable, Bravo's Emmy and James Beard Award-winning series "Top Chef: Washington D.C.," premiering Wednesday, June 16 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Bravo. The 17 new chef'testants come face to face in the nation's capitol for the ultimate power play that will determine just who has the chops to become Top Chef.

The Emmy-nominated Magical Elves return to produce "Top Chef: Washington D.C." Dan Cutforth, Jane Lipsitz ("Top Chef Masters," "Dance Your Ass Off"), Liz Cook and Casey Kriley serve as executive producers. Chaz Gray serves as co-executive producer.

The 17 "Top Chef: Washington D.C." chef'testants will be whittled down week by week as they compete to outshine their competition. The winning chef will receive $125,000 furnished by Dial Nutriskin, a feature in Food & Wine magazine, a showcase at the Annual Food & Wine Classic in Aspen and will earn the title of "Top Chef." The Washington Hilton served as the production location for "Top Chef: Washington D.C."

Bravo's "Top Chef" offers a fascinating window into the competitive, pressure-filled environment of world-class cookery and the restaurant business at the highest level. The series features seventeen aspiring chefs who compete for their shot at culinary stardom and the chance to earn the prestigious title of "Top Chef." Each episode holds two challenges for the chefs. The first is a quickfire test of their basic abilities and the second is a more involved elimination challenge designed to test the versatility and inventiveness of the chefs as they take on unique culinary trials such as working with unusual and exotic foods or catering for a range of demanding clients. The challenges not only test their skills in the kitchen, but also uncover if they have the customer service, management and teamwork abilities required of a Top Chef. The competing chefs live and breathe the high-pressure lifestyle that comes with being a master chef and each week someone is asked to "pack up their knives" and go home.

Following are the 17 new "Top Chef: Washington D.C." chef'testants:

Alex Reznik, 33 – Hometown: Brooklyn, NY; Resides in Hollywood, CA
Amanda Baumgarten, 27 – Hometown/Resides in: Los Angeles, CA
Andrea Curto-Randazzo, 39 – Hometown: Vero Beach, FL/Resides in: Miami Beach, FL.
Angelo Sosa, 34 – Hometown: Connecticut; Resides in New York, NY.
Arnold Myint, 32 – Hometown/Resides in: Nashville, TN.
Ed Cotton, 32 – Hometown: Boston, MA; Resides in New York, NY.
Jacqueline Lombard, 33 – Hometown: Boston, MA/Resides in Brooklyn, NY.
John Somerville, 42 – Hometown/Resides in: West Bloomfield, MI.
Kelly Liken, 33 – Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA/Resides in: Vail, CO.
Kenny Gilbert, 36 – Hometown: Cleveland, OH/Resides in: Telluride, CO
Kevin Sbraga, 30 – Hometown/Resides in: Willingboro, NJ.
Lynne Gigliotti, 51 – Hometown: Philadelphia, PA/Resides in Hyde Park, NY.
Stephen Hopcraft, 40 – Hometown: Cleveland, OH.; Resides in Las Vegas, NV
Tamesha Warren, 24 – Hometown: Barbados; Resides in Washington D.C.
Tiffany Derry, 26 – Hometown: Beaumont, TX/Resides in: Dallas, TX
Timothy Dean, 39 – Hometown: Washington D.C./Resides in Baltimore, MD
Tracey Bloom, 33 – Hometown: Rochester, NY/Resides in Atlanta, GA

ATC Love to Chef Jody Adams

While Chef Jody Adams ended up on top of the heap in the first of the Championship rounds, this week she was bested by a goat and a clam. It's always difficult to work with unfamiliar ingredients, and while roasting goat seemed like the perfect solution, the allotted cook time just wasn't enough to produce the results Chef Adams was looking for.

We're very sorry to see you go, Chef, and wish you happiness and continued success in your culinary career.

This post is only for positive comments about Chef Adams and her work. If you have anything negative to say about her or her competition, please do so here.

Congratulations, Chef Susur Lee!

Chef Susur Lee once again wowed the chefs with his work. While his whimsical representation of Marge Simpson did not win him the Quickfire Challenge, his amazing ways with geoduck clams and black chicken got him a few more "5 star" votes from the judges in the bizarre foods Elimination. This week, he scored 19 points, a mere half point behind his 19.5 of a few weeks ago, which was the highest score in Top Chef Masters history.

Seems like the man can do no wrong. And the Agassi Foundation is sure to be pleased to receiving another $10,000. Way to go, Chef Lee!

This post is only for positive comments about Chef Lee and his work. If you have anything negative to say about him or his competition, please do so here.

Reactions to Top Chef Masters 2 Episode Six

This week we saw our intrepid Master Chefs competing in the second of the Championship rounds. Their fist challenge, the Quickfire, was to create dishes based on a character from the long-running Fox animated series, The Simpsons. The chefs drew knives for character assignment, which went something like this:

Tony Mantuano - Chef Wiggum
Susan Feniger - Moe
Marcus Samuelsson - Apu
Susur Lee - Marge Simpson
Rick Moonen - Homer Simpson
Jody Adams - Lisa Simpson
Jonathan Waxman - Bart Simpson

Judging the contest was Simpsons creator Matt Groening, writer Matt Selman, and voice of many characters, Hank Azaria.

The chefs all seemed to have fun with the challenge, particularly Susur who created a representation of Marge Simpson on his plate, with purple potato hair and pork chop face. Ok, it was a bit ugly/freaky, but the judges enjoyed the flavors. Actually, the judges seemed to enjoy everything a whole lot, but in the end, Rick Moonen's shrimp sloppy Joe with truffle fries got the prize.

The Elimination Challenge is almost as fun as the Quickfire. It's a rehash of a challenge from Top Chef season 3 in which the chefs had to create a surf and turf plate using unusual foods. Because Rick won the QF, he got to choose his proteins first, and he went with the most normal selections, monkfish liver and black chicken. Susur chose the same. Tony took the giant squid and goat, Marcus took geoduck and kangaroo, Jody took geoduck and goat, Susan went for sea cucumber and kangaroo, and Jonathan took the jumbo squid and duck tongues.

First they shopped, then they did prep for an hour and a half. The next day, the Masters had 2.5 hours to complete their dishes. It was interesting that several of the proteins were provocatively-shaped. Jonathan said his duck tongues resembled duck penises (penii?) and Jody insisted she had to blanch the geoduck in order to remove its "foreskin." Susan Feniger kindly refrained from making comparisons between her sea cucumber and her ex-husband.

Judging this mess contest was the Travel Channel's Bizarre Foods expert, Andrew Zimmern, some other guys who apparently will put anything into their mouths, plus Gael Greene, James Oseland, and Jay Rayner.

Zimmern seemed to have a lot of good things to say about the food, but considering none of it was hakarl (fermented shark, the worst thing he's ever tasted), all of it *was* good.

In the end, Susur took top honors with his black chicken and monkfish liver plate, narrowly beating out Rick who used the same foods. And on the bottom, because her goat was terribly undercooked, was the second woman to exit these finals, Chef Jody Adams.

So what did you think about the episode? These challenges? Please leave a comment!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Previews for Top Chef Masters 2 Episode 6

In what may be the coolest Quickfire Challenge yet, the Masters’ pop culture knowledge is put to the test. Hank Azaria, Matt Groening, and Matt Selman - voices and writers of the legendary animated series The Simpsons- drop by as guest judges when the cheftestants have to create meals fit for each Springfield citizen they are assigned to. And for the Elimination round, the seven remaining chefs must combine exotic, and often unappetizing, proteins into an appealing surf-and-turf inspired duo. Will these ‘Masters’ be able to hone their skills to turn something seemingly-inedible into a culinary masterpiece? Find out tonight, 5/12 @ 10/9c on BRAVO’s Top Chef Masters!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Recap Roundup: Top Chef Masters 2 Episode 5

Jordan Baker on Susur's wife (and the rest of the cast): "Once again, Susur’s wife is probably one of the best characters in this series. And we’ve never seen her, and probably never will. Susur’s wife is like the Maris Crane of Top Chef, Masters... The official ranking of my favorite people in this show is: Gael Greene’s Hat; Jonathan; Susur’s wife; Susur; all the lady chefs; Gail; Tony; the other critics and K-Choi; and then Marcus and Rick about six miles back of the pack."

Reality Wanted quickly summarizes: "Overall, the Blue team takes the win. The Red team deals with Marcus’s mushy beef, Carmen not having enough food in the game, Tony’s overcooked pasta and Susur’s not-so-great Carrot Cake. In the end, Carmen Gonzalez ends up going home for lack of food."

Onion AV Club likes that Quickfire: "Tonight's quickfire challenge is one of my favorites from Top Chef past: a culinary reality-show spin on the surrealist circle game exquisite corpse. Each member of a four-person team must cook in succession, blindly inheriting the dish from the former... The producers did well to kick things off with this challenge; it's playful and keeps us guessing. Will they make sense of the clues, or will they totally screw up the original intentions?"

TWOP on the disastrous semolina cake: "What the fuck was up with that cake? Rick calls it "the Charlie Brown Christmas tree of wedding cakes." No one else seems to care, but come on. That cake was a travesty."

CBS News on Waxman's claustrophobia: "This was an interesting challenge for Waxman, who admitted to being claustrophobic. He pulled off his blindfold after 30 minutes to finish a mussel and shrimp stew and help his team win the Quick Fire."

Grub Street on Top Scallop: "Most Overused Ingredient: Scallops! Do all chefs share an unhealthy obsession with this shellfish? We've wondered this for season after season of Top Chef, but last night seemed to confirm it when both teams made a sort of seafood stew during the Quickfire. With access to so many ingredients, why do they keep it so limited? If it’s because scallops are easy to cook, that means they’re lazy."

Serious Eats on the other white meat (funny? too much? yes? no?): "no review of this episode would possibly be complete without addressing the gigantic elephant(s) in the room... namely, the bride's breasticles. Was I the only one who was terrified a boob was going to pop out of that 'dress' at any given moment? No? Okay then. Let's proceed."

Speakeasy (WSJ) on the bride and groom's taste buds: "The chefs stay in their teams to tackle the menu after meeting with the happy couple, who have some very plebian tastes (no lamb, no foie gras, no spices, no pork, no shellfish, but carrot cake and bananas foster, please)."

Fine Cooking on the sweet side of failure: "It's a great reminder that you may be an amazing chef but you still have blunders in the kitchen. Susan Feniger tried to make an Egyptian semolina wedding cake and failed miserably with a dry cake covered in cream and berries that looked very sad indeed. Rick Moonen, famous for his seafood, assembled an on the spot mixed seafood grill plate that was so brown and depressing that you wouldn't have believed it was fish! Marcus Sammuelson tried to add juiciness to a beef tenderloin and ended up making it a mushy mess." on Waxman's ah-ha moment: "Jonathan is claustrophobic and has been freaking out the entire time under the blindfold, but when Marcus and his turn comes to finish the dishes, he takes his time figuring things out and as Rick predicts, has his classic Waxman moment: furrowed brow and frown suddenly turning into a beatific smile."

Daily Loaf on the two paths chosen: "It seemed that the chefs went either way when preparing dishes for this challenge: they either made something that the couple specifically said they wanted (despite maybe having never made it before) or they went their own way and cooked dishes they felt would be sufficient for the challenge, not taking the couple’s tastes in mind."

Food Network Musings on the best wedding favor ever: "Jonathan says for HIS wedding they gave everyone a margarita as they walked it and it set the tone for the entire wedding. I LOVE that idea."

[Photo borrowed from Serious Eats...because Bravo hasn't posted any regular episode photos.]

Exit Interviews - Top Chef Masters Episode 5

Monday, May 10, 2010

Tom Colicchio Donates a Tie

Online Tie Auction to Raise Funds for Nonprofit Organization Career Gear

NEW YORK, N.Y.- It's often said that the clothes make the man, but a number of notable men are redefining the phrase by donating their neckwear for a charity auction. Career Gear, a nonprofit that assists disadvantaged men find and retain employment, has received ties from such famous necks as Zac Efron, Steve Carell and Zach Galifianakis to auction off this June to raise much-needed funds. In this time of economic uncertainty, these men have all recognized the pressing need to help those who are unemployed but ready to turn their lives around.

Now in its second year, the Career Gear Celebrity Tie Auction has generously received ties from Christopher Meloni, Ed Helms, Isiah Whitlock Jr., James Gandolfini, Jimmy Kimmel, John Krasinski, John Lutz, John Waters, Lewis Black, Marcellus Wiley, Michael Imperioli, Rainn Wilson, Ryan Eggold, Steve Buscemi, Tim Gunn and Tom Colicchio.

"We are so grateful that these inspirational men have donated their ties to Career Gear," says founder Gary Field. "As we enter our 11th year, in an economy that will surely find even more men in need of our services, we are thankful to have their support. The funds raised from the auction will go directly towards giving men a second chance to start their lives."

Since 1999, Career Gear has empowered disconnected job-seeking men to invest in themselves to succeed as leaders, fathers and positive role models in communities where there are often few. Now some of the country's best-known and revered role models are helping to inform a wider audience of Career Gear's mission by aligning with its cause. Their strong sense of style and a commitment to philanthropy will help raise funds that go directly to Career Gear to sustain important retention services and career counseling workshops that lead to quality-of-life improvements.

The auction will begin on June 7 at 12:01 a.m. PST and close on June 17 at 12:01 a.m. PST. To visit the auction Web site once it goes live, please visit

Sunday, May 9, 2010

TC News & Information

Kelly Choi dishes on Top Chef Masters to Pacific Citizen.

Top Chef 3's Camille Becerra will be participating in a pop-up restaurant in NoLIta through May 16th. More info can be found here.

There's some spoiler-y information about the upcoming Top Chef 7 on the Top Chef Wikipedia page. Check it out, keeping in mind that Wikipedia is hardly an authoritative source.

Here's 5 Questions with season 6's Eli Kirshtein.

Parade Magazine has an interview with Graham Elliot Bowles.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Video du Jour - Top Chef on Tour

Top Chef on tour
Check out Chefs Ash Fulk and Ariane Duarte on the Top Chef Tour! Read about their visit to Grand Rapids here.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Top Recipe, Top Chef Masters 2 Episode 5

The printed recipe can be found here.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

ATC Love to Chef Gonzalez

Chef Gonzalez, after your miraculous comeback in the early rounds, you seemed nearly unstoppable. Although your organizational skills were no doubt an asset to your team, somehow helping others in a team challenge wasn't as important to the judges as cooking lots of food. Your crabcake was hailed by James Oseland as a match for Baltimore crabcakes, and Gael loved your roasted corn salad, but that, unfortunately, was not enough.

You leave with the initial 10K won for your charity, the ASPCA, which is a wonderful thing. We at ATC hope to see you around in the future and wish you continued success in your career.

This post is for positive comments about Chef Gonzalez and her food. If you have anything negative to say about Chef Gonzalez, or any other competitor, you may do so here.

Congratulations, Chef Adams

Congrats to Chef Jody Adams who chose to do a rather risky lamb preparation for the Bride's Team, despite the bride saying that lamb wasn't one of her favorites. But in a scene of the bride tasting dishes, she raves about the lamb. It ended up being a great call and gets Chef Adams additional money for her charity, Partners in Health.

Chef Adams, we're happy for your victory and hope you can sustain your level of success throughout the Championship Round.

This post is for positive comments about Chef Adams and her food. If you have anything negative to say about Chef Adams, or any other competitor, you may do so here.

Reactions to Top Chef Masters 2 Episode 5

In this week's episode, we saw the first part of the Championship Round, with eight chefs going head to head (to head, etc.): Tony Mantuano, Susan Feniger, Carmen Gonzalez, Marcus Samuelsson, Rick Moonen, Jonathan Waxman, Jody Adams and Susur Lee. (I remembered them without a cheat sheet - go me! Hey, I take the small victories as they come.)

The Quickfire reprised the Blindfold Relay Race from season 6 of Top Chef, and the chefs determined their teams by choosing pots (no steenking knife block here) containing either a red or a blue apron.

Red Team: Tony, Marcus, Carmen, Susur
Blue Team: Rick, Susan, Jody, and a claustrophobic Jonathan who was sooo not into wearing a mask

It was amusing to see these Master chefs struggle a bit with this challenge, while the cheftestants in the regular series seemed to be so organized about it. This time, both teams end up making similar dishes with scallops and mussels. After tasting each, Jay Rayner proclaimed the Blue Team the winner.

The Elimination Challenge continued the team theme by being Wedding Wars, in which the teams have 12 hours over 2 days to cook for the 150 guests of a couple who have fairly different tastes in food and dietary restrictions. The Blue Team, with their advantageous win in the QF, chose the Bride, Elizabeth, because she claimed to like Asian and French food and that seemed broader than the selection given to them by Mr Meat-and-Potatoes-but-no-pork-because-I'm-Jewish-but-sure-shellfish-is-ok Aaron, the Groom.

After a shopping trip to Restaurant Depot and Whole Foods, the chefs have 6 hours to prep. Oh, and did I mention they had to create wedding cakes? Yeah, they had to do that too. After a few hours of sleep in which Jonathan Waxman doubtless had nightmares about being blindfolded, scallops, and Susan Feniger, the chefs headed to the wedding venue for another 5 hours of cooking.

In the blink of an eye, it's Reception Time and Elizabeth and Aaron enter the dining area with their hoard of guests. No Gail Simmons in this episode, but the bride more than makes up for the lack of boobage by supplying her own in a wedding dress that looks more like lingerie. A real shame nobody talked her into wearing a bra. But I digress. The critics seem to love everything made by the Blue/Bride's Team, except for Rick's seafood medley which is overcooked. On the Red/Groom's side, there was more nitpicking over dishes: Marcus' meat was soggy (insert joke here); Tony's pasta was overcooked; and, what the hell did Carmen even cook? On the positive side, Tony's shrimp were perfect and Susur cranked out five - count 'em five - desserts, including a croquembouche-style wedding cake and a carrot cake Groom's cake. Is there anything this man cannot do?

Predictably, with two very strong entrées, Team Blue pulls off the victory. Jody Adams gets the ultimate win for her "risky" lamb preparation (risky because the bride said she wasn't fond of lamb). On the Team Red side, Carmen gets called out for not making very much food aside from a corn salad and a crabcake appetizer. Granted, James Oseland said the crabcake could have held its own in Baltimore, the crab cake capital of the world. (Yeah! Go Baltimore! Hey James - maybe you could take Tony Bourdain on a tour of proper crabcake joints in our fair city?) Poor Carmen scored only 11 stars out of 20, the lowest number out of her team, and gets sent packing. The rest of the team survives to face Andrew Zimmern next week....

So what did you think about this episode? Please leave a comment!