Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Meet the All Stars - Angelo Sosa

Angelo made it all the way to the Singapore finale but lost to fellow competitor Kevin Sbraga after falling ill. Considered one of the cockiest chefs in his season's kitchen, we have a feeling that won't be the case this time around.

Angelo, who owns Sosa Consulting Group, 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 consults on 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.

Meet the All Stars - Tiffany Derry

Tiffany, a favorite of Ed and the fans, always keeps it positive with her bubbly personality. Although she made it to the top five, she was eliminated in a space food challenge.

Tiffany, a native Texan, definitely flaunts the “Don’t Mess with Texas” attitude with a warmth and charm that makes everyone want to visit her home state. 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 Dallas to do her other passion: teach culinary. In 2008, Chef Tiffany 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. Chef Tiffany and her husband Mark, newlyweds, live in the Dallas area.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Meet the All Stars - Jennifer Carroll

Although she had some high highs and low lows, Jennifer's skills brought her all the way to the Napa finale competing against Kevin Gillespie and the Voltaggio brothers. Unfortunately, Michael Voltaggio took home the title.

Wooed by restaurant work and cooking from an early age, Jennifer went to culinary school and quickly became Sous Chef at both Julia and Café Kati in San Francisco. She returned to her native Philadelphia working at several restaurants and went on to become Sous Chef at Eric Ripert’s prestigious Le Bernardin in Manhattan. Personally selected by Ripert to lead 10 Arts Bistro & Lounge, located in The Ritz-Carlton, Philadelphia, Jennifer is currently Chef de Cuisine at the award-winning restaurant and contributes her culinary talents to numerous charitable causes. Her favorite thing to make is a really good sandwich, especially late at night after work. And she is sure to keep fine sea salt, espellate, citron vinegar, high fat unsalted butter, and sitia extra virgin olive oil in her kitchen.

Meet the All Stars - Mike Isabella

The chef fans loved to hate, Mike Isabella always has something to say (and it's usually about Robin.) A vegetarian challenge sent him home in Episode 10.

In the Spring of 2011, Mike is set to open Graffiato, a new Italian-inspired restaurant in the Penn Quarter neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Graffiato's menu will reflect simple meals Mike grew up eating prepared by his grandmother, including stuffed pastas and wood-fired pizza. In August 2010, Mike left Zaytinya, Jose Andres’ nationally-renowned Greek-Mediterranean restaurant in Washington, DC, where he served as Executive Chef for more than three years. He honed his culinary skills along the East Coast – first working at a number of fine dining establishments in New York City, then at Alma de Cuba, Washington Square and a host of Stephen Starr restaurants in Philadelphia before landing at Kyma, a top-notch Greek restaurant in Atlanta. There he learned the slight flavors and nuances of Greek cuisine and went on to travel through Greece and parts of the Middle East where he picked up more tricks of the trade.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

TC News and Information 11.28.10 - Sunday Night Special

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving weekend, and welcome to all our new Twitter followers. I'm grateful to have had a few days break, but guessing I'm not the only one in overdrive anticipating the Top Chef All-Stars premiere Wednesday night. So let's get to at least a few tidbits from the mailbox.

Season 5 Fan Fave and returning All-Star Fabio Viviani recently reopened Cafe Firenze after ownership squabbles, and he seems giddy with the prospect of redemption, baby, in this interview with WGN radio, where he's promised to offer weekly updates as the season unfolds. You can also find some choice quotes from Fabio, as well as returning All-Star Antonia Lofaso (S4), here. Antonia says, "The first time we were on the show, a lot of us didn't know how to express ourselves. . . . Now we've come into our own. . . . A certain level of respect needs to be paid to us." Hmmm, Antonia, who is now working as a private chef, came in second only to Richard Blais among the returning All-Stars according the Chicago Trib's Top Chef Power Index.

If you're a seriously hard-core Top Chef crack monkey, and have an hour available, you can find some interesting audio from Art of Living with Carla Hall in the first half-hour and Jamie Lauren in the second half-hour (both All-Stars originally competed on S5). Carla is moving on from her catering business, and Jamie has moved from Absinthe in SF to a new gig at Beechwood in LA, which is getting some pretty sweet reviews - here's what Feast had to say, and Grub Street offers up a slideshow of Jamie's dishes including "an edible 'I Told You So' created with Padma Lakshmi in mind." Hmm. Jamie also says in the Art of Living interview that she'd never return for another shot at TC.

What else is in store for the upcoming All-Star season? I would be remiss in my media-watching duties if I didn't forewarn you of the S8 "Top Sponsors" - Boursin, Buitoni, (Swanson) broth, and Toyota.

And Bravo's facebook page has this: "Rooting for your favorite All-Star this season? Get ready to show your love in a whole new way... Check back tomorrow for the exciting details."

More to come from us at AllTopChef tomorrow too, kids.

Meet the All Stars - Fabio Viviani

Fan Favorite Fabio not only charmed everyone but had the chops in the kitchen to back it up, making it all the way to the final four.

Fabio is the Owner and Executive Chef of Café Firenze in Moorpark, CA and Firenze Osteria in Toluca Lake, CA. Born and raised in Florence, Italy, his culinary career began at the age of 12 when he started working in a restaurant. Two years later, he was given the opportunity to prove himself as a cook when the chef cut himself badly and Fabio stepped in. He then attended culinary school and traveled across Europe, training in classic Italian and Mediterranean cuisine. He won awards for his dry aged steaks at the Sagra Della Bistecca Awards in Cortona and his cheese and wine selections at the 2004 Enofood Awards. In 2009, his first cookbook Café Firenze, Mangia e Bevi was released with rave reviews. His next book, a collaboration with his mother, My Son is on Google, Recipes & Memories from an Italian Mom is due out in Fall 2012.

Meet the All Stars - Jamie Lauren

An original member of "Team Rainbow" and -- we're sure he'd like to think -- "Team Stefan," Jamie got sent home during a Le Bernardin challenge, but stood as one of the final seven chefs standing.

Currently Executive Chef at Beechwood in Venice, California, Jamie’s interest in the culinary arts started at a young age, cooking with her parents in Manhattan. Jamie quickly became one of San Francisco Chronicle’s “Rising-Star Chefs” by 2005. Jamie continued to receive accolades by elevating the cuisine at Absinthe where she served as Executive Chef from 2007-2010. She went on to be named Restaurant Hospitality’s “Rising Star Chef 2008.” An honors graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Jamie has had the opportunity to work with many acclaimed chefs including: Anita Lo of Annisa in New York City; Lance Dean Velasquez formerly of Bendean in Berkeley; and Jean-Michel Bouvier of L’Essential in Chambéry, France. Jamie credits these chefs for teaching her how to meld exotic flavors and ingredients. Jamie’s menu at Beechwood highlights her commitment to organic, locally grown, seasonal ingredients.

Buzz up!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Meet the All Stars - Carla Hall

Hootie-hoo! Carla started her season off quietly, but quickly proved she was a force to be reckoned with. Her classical technique helped her make it to the finale, eventually buckling under the pressure and losing to Hosea Rosenberg.

Carla is the owner of Executive Chef of Alchemy Caterers in Washington, D.C. Her food balances the heart and soul of the South and the refinement of her classic French training. A native of Nashville, Carla graduated from Howard University with a degree in Accounting. However, her passions were elsewhere and she eventually discovered her love of food while modeling in Paris, Milan, and London. After graduating from L’Academie de Cuisine, Carla worked as Sous Chef at the Henley Park Hotel and Executive Chef at The State Plaza Hotel and The Washington Club. She enjoys creating memorable comfort dishes with fresh, seasonal and local ingredients. Carla has passed on her genuine love and joy for being in the kitchen by teaching at CulinAerie and L’Academie de Cuisine, as well as extending her personal philosophies in team building classes at different venues in the D.C. metropolitan area.

Meet the All Stars - Dale Talde

Although showing he can sometimes get heated in the kitchen (Hi, Chef Chiarello!), Dale was the casualty in his team's poor Restaurant Wars performance.

Dale Talde is currently the Chef de Cuisine at Buddakan in New York City. His passion for food started at an early age as he watched his mother cook. After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America, he went back to Chicago where he helped open Jean George Vongerichten’s Vong. He has also worked with James Beard award winning chefs Carrie Nahabedian and Shawn McClain. In 2005, he moved to New York City to open Morimoto with the Iron Chef, Masaharu Morimoto. Since his last appearance on Top Chef, his travels have taken him to the Philippines, Spain, the Caribbean, and throughout the U.S. “I’ve definitely done some growing up over the past few years, both personally and professionally, and I hope it shows in my daily life and in my food.” Dale looks forward to this shot at redemption and hopes that this will springboard his latest restaurant concepts and business ventures.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Meet the All Stars - Spike Mendelsohn

Spike is back without his sidekick Andrew D'Ambrosi, but he's still got his hat. Spike's cooking (and smooth-talking) pushed him all the way to the final five of his season.

Spike is the chef and owner of the popular Capitol Hill award-winning burger joint, Good Stuff Eatery, which opened in 2008 and has been frequented by the First Family on several occasions. In the summer of 2010 he opened his second restaurant We, The Pizza right next door. He recently published his first cookbook, The Good Stuff Cookbook and is working on his second book. Before moving to Washington, D.C., Spike worked as the chef de cuisine at NYC hotspot restaurant, Mai House, which was named as one of The New York Times’ top ten best restaurants during his tenure. Growing up in St. Petersburg, FL, where his parents owned and operated a restaurant, Spike knew he wanted a career in the culinary world at an early age. He attended the Culinary Institute of America where he received the school’s highest award, The Francis Roth Leadership Award, upon graduation. He went on to train in classic French cuisine in restaurants around the world including Gerard Boyer at Les Crayeres, Thomas Keller at Bouchon, and The Maccioni Family at Le Cirque.

Meet the All Stars - Antonia Lofaso

Perhaps a bit of a sleeper in the first few episodes of her season, Antonia finally hit a winning streak before ultimately being eliminated in Puerto Rico for poorly-cooked pigeon peas! Pigeon peas!

Antonia helmed Foxtail, the upscale supper club in Los Angeles, as Executive Chef and, for six years prior, worked at Wolfgang Puck’s Spago under the mentorship of Executive Chef Lee Hefter. A single mother living in Los Angeles, Antonia comes from an Italian background where she cooked with her mother and worked in her father’s restaurant. She went on to refine her cooking skills at the French Culinary Institute and graduated with a command of technique that landed her positions with catering companies and fine dining restaurants. Currently a national spokesperson for such companies as Stouffer's and Sara Lee, Antonia is working on a cookbook with over 100 recipes geared towards busy mothers with tips and suggestions from her own experiences and the those of celebrity single moms.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving, from All Top Chef!

Many thanks for reading All Top Chef!
~theminx, Neal P, Laura K, Intuitive Eggplant, Kit Pollard, and Cliff

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Meet the All Stars - Richard Blais

Like Marcel, Richard brought molecular gastronomy (and banana scallops!) back to the forefront of Top Chef discourse. Oh, and he had a faux-hawk. Although he made it all the way to the Puerto Rico finale, he lost the title to the show's first female winner, Stephanie Izard.

Richard, a finalist on Top Chef: Chicago, is known for his innovative and personal take on classical cuisine and has studied under luminaries such as Thomas Keller, Daniel Boulud and Ferran Adria. In 2004, Richard founded his creative culinary company, Trail Blais, which has consulted on, designed and operated three and four star restaurants in Atlanta. Currently, Richard owns and operates Flip Burger Boutique, a four-star eatery redefining the iconic America burger experience, with multiple locations in Atlanta, Birmingham, and soon, Washington, DC. Richard believes cooking is an art and food is meant to stimulate on many levels. He incorporates global ingredients, modern cooking methods, wit and a sense of humor to all of his food. A native New Yorker, he currently resides in Atlanta with his wife Jazmin and daughter, Riley.

Meet the All Stars - Dale Levitski

Fighting to get his culinary groove back, Dale proved he still had a passion for cooking by competing against Casey Thompson and Hung Huynh in the Aspen finale.

Dale Levitski, a native Chicagoan, currently serves as the Executive Chef at Sprout, which recently received three stars from the Chicago Tribune and was named “Best New Restaurant” by Chicago magazine. Without any formal culinary training, Dale landed a job as a fry cook at the Ground Round in Iowa City while attending the University of Iowa. He instantly fell in love with the rush of the kitchen, and his culinary career began its course. After moving back to Chicago, he worked in the kitchens at some of the city’s finest restaurants including Blackbird, La Tache, and Trio. After Trio closed, Dale appeared on Top Chef: Miami where viewers saw his competitive edge as he cooked his way to the finale where he was runner-up. He lives in Chicago with Sara Nguyen, his former competitor from Top Chef who also works as his Sous Chef at Sprout.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Meet the All Stars - Casey Thompson

Some say she helped Carla Hall lose the Season 5 finale, but that's old news! Casey made it all the way to her season's Aspen finale, competing against Dale Levitski and eventual winner Hung Huynh. Damn the altitude!

Learning from celebrity chef Dean Fearing at Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek, Casey worked her way up from prep cook to Sous Chef before leaving to accept the Executive Chef position at one of Dallas’ most popular Asian restaurants, Shinsei. Following her role at Shinsei, Thompson settled in San Francisco and spent time traveling the world, learning techniques and presentations from places as far as Thailand and Argentina. Her experiences have allowed her to prepare unique dining events for groups and private dinners. She has worked with many of the most well known wineries in the Napa Valley and Sonoma Coast. Casey returned to Texas in 2010 to serve as Executive Chef of Brownstone Restaurant & Lounge in Fort Worth. In addition to her duties at Brownstone, Casey serves as the spokesperson for Terrazas wine, a brand of Moet-Hennessey. She also participates in culinary events for Ghost Horse winery and serves as a culinary ambassador for the Bay Area Red Cross.

Meet the All Stars - Tre Wilcox

Sure, people were upset when Top Chef D.C.'s Kenny got the ax, but it's safe to say Tre's Restaurant Wars elimination is probably still the biggest upset in Top Chef history.

Tre’s culinary career began at the age of 17, working at several fast food restaurants. He quickly worked his way up the ladder, and his determination to explore the culinary world led him to his first foray into fine dining at Toscana. From there, he made his way to Abacus, which has been heralded as one of the best restaurants in Dallas. He was nominated as the James Beard Foundation’s “Rising Star Chef” for two consecutive years and was named “Rising Star Chef” by the Dallas Morning News in 2004. Following his appearance on Top Chef: Miami in 2007, Tre became a private chef, traveling the country for the next two years, cooking for celebrities including Russell Simmons and Jerry Stackhouse and leading cooking classes. He is currently the Executive Chef at Loft 610 in Plano, TX, and is working on his own restaurant, Marquee Grill, which is slated to open in 2011 in Dallas.

TC News and Information 11.23.10

Well, lookie who has a book deal announced just in time to coincide with the run-up to all the attention Top Chef All-Stars is getting. Yes, it's Gail Simmons, and her memoir is titled Eating With My Mouth Full. Sorry, but you'll have to wait until 2012 for it to be published.

Speaking of writers, the guy who won TC judge Anthony Bourdain's Medium Raw Essay Contest collected his cash and talked about writing his piece in 15 minutes here.

Meanwhile, head judge Tom Colicchio revealed at the recent Food and Wine and Rum Festival in Barbados that he will be actually be cooking in the TC All-Stars season: "It was the first time, I got into the kitchen and cooked with them, under the clock. It's harder than it looks." Hmmm, wonder if Tom cooked his dish in less than 15 minutes.

Recap Roundup - Top Chef Just Desserts Finale

After Elton on the real competition: "So we’ve got Morgan and his Son in one corner, and Yigit and his Dad in the other. In other words, instead of this being a competition about who’s the more accomplished pastry chef, Bravo has cunningly reframed it as a competition about who loves each other more, whose familial relationship is more deserving of monetary reward. It’s like how music awards are all really about which rappers God’s rooting for in the hopes of getting a shout out."

My Monkey Could Do That on Morgan: "In the morning, Morgan worries that Claudia will think he’s “some ass clown who doesn’t belong here.” First of all, she’s not judging, and secondly, if that concerns you then maybe don’t act like an ass clown. Yigit whines that Morgan kept the AC on all night, and the vent is over his bed, and Morgan knew he had a cold, and whatever. You could have slept on the couch. Or, if Morgan is so hot when he sleeps, you can move the beds around. He’s not doing it on purpose to make you sick, he’s just an ass clown."

Creative Loafing on new sous: "They draw from the cookie jar to see who they’ll get to boss around. Yigit gets Ted, Danielle gets Tania (the first person kicked off the show) and Morgan gets his biggest fan, Heather H. (Thank you, karma!) Though Morgan is paranoid about sabotage, he and Heather work fairly well together, as in, he didn’t put her down or call her a bitch to her face."

Jordan Baker on the conspicuous absence of a former competitor: "Seth has been entirely erased from the ranks of Dessertestants. They’re hoping we forget Seth, kind of. They’d like us to remember him enough to think of the show as dramatic and insane, but not enough to remember that it was actually clinically insane in a way that put the judges and the other competitors in jeopardy."

Culture Mob on soufflé issues: "Morgan is having souffle issues something serious, and in a twist no one saw coming Heather comes through, calms him down and gets his best desserts out to the judges. Ah, Heather, I knew you weren’t actually evil."

TWOP on the results" "The....winner...is...YIGIT. He collapses in joy, Morgan hugs him. The other contenders stream in and Zac leaps on Yigit and screeches like a howler monkey. Morgan claims that there is no one he would rather lose to. Danielle knows Yigit can do things with pastry she can't even dream of. Yigit is thrilled that he won and drives off into the sunset with Gail at his side in his Buick Regal. And thus endeth Top Chef: Just Desserts."

Monday, November 22, 2010

Meet the All Stars - Elia Aboumrad

Well, her hair's grown back! Elia was the last woman standing in her season, making it all the way to the final four before being ousted.

Elia has most recently served as a consultant and private caterer in Mexico, Paris, and the United States and is slated to open her own restaurant, Avec Moi, with a colleague later this year in Los Angeles. The Hotel at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas was awarded a 4 Diamond Rating while Elia was at the helm and in March 2008, Elia received the “Universal Excellency Award” for artists who excel internationally in their fields. Prior to her prestigious role at The Hotel at Mandalay Bay, she opened L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon for acclaimed chef Joel Robuchon in Las Vegas. Before relocating to Las Vegas, she worked under Chef Robuchon and helped open L’Atelier in Paris where she was the first woman to ever be in the top ranks in a Robuchon kitchen. She attended culinary school at Ecole Lenotre in Paris where she completed the school’s “Grand Diplome” program and became the first student to take every additional course offered to students and professionals -- 34 certifications in all that include specializations in chocolate making, bread baking, French & Italian cuisine, and even the science of ice cream making.

Meet the All Stars - Marcel Vigneron

One of the most controversial cheftestants in Top Chef history (and the reason our Senior Editor Monica Reyhani became obsessed with the show in the first place), Marcel is probably most known for his passion for molecular gastronomy and, um, rapping. Marcel went all the way to the finale, losing to Ilan Hall in Hawaii.

Marcel considers himself to be first and foremost a “cook.” He previously worked as a Sous Chef at The Bazaar by Jose Andres, as a Master Cook at Joel Robuchon, and as a line cook for Michael Mina at Aqua before becoming an Executive Chef of his own kitchen in Los Angeles. He also has his own TV series titled “Marcel’s Quantum Kitchen” which is slated to premiere on Syfy in 2011. Marcel is a curious cook who has an affinity for culinary knowledge, who uses a knife as an extension of his hand, the kitchen as an arena, the earth as a grocery store, the tasting menu as his bio, and the plate as a porcelain canvas in which to display his art.

TC News and Information 11.22.10

The Chicago Tribune has done the math, so you don't have to. Check out their Top Chef Power Index, where S + Q – EB + EW + ET = TCPR. If you prefer word problems, this translates as (Staying power) + (Quickfire wins) – (number of times in the elimination bottom group) + (number of times in the elimination top group) + (elimination wins) = “Top Chef” Power Rating. Hmmm, this could come in handy if you want to pick your fantasy team on Fafarazzi for the All-Stars.

Meanwhile, Season 6 Top Chef winner Michael Voltaggio has announced he'll open his own restaurant, "Ink." in a space formerly occupied by a sushi restaurant in West L.A., hopefully by the end of February. Yes, tats had something to do with the name. Click here for more info about his plans for a non-Japanese "omakase-style" menu, mixing casual and fine dining, and creating a place where "even the servers are running in to work every day excited to be here."

Want to know what's on the wish list of MVolt's brother, Season 6 finalist Bryan? Investors for a green hotel in Frederick, Maryland, that would include a bunch of his restaurants. And, oh, yeah, astronaut ice cream and a $10K freeze dryer.

TC Just Desserts' Zac Young tells DessertBuzz he'll be opening a donut shop in conjunction with his current employer, Flex Mussels.

And Just Desserts winner, Yigit Pura, tells SF Weekly he'd like to open a "high end concept dessert shop" in San Francisco with his TCJD winnings.

Need some Thanksgiving tips or inspiration? Season 6 finalist Kevin Gillespie demos an oil-less turkey fryer in this video. And Wal-Mart has teamed up with returning All-Star Carla Hall to provide organizational and money-saving tips, along with Carla's recipe for a Sweet Potato Casserole with Wheat Chex and sage crumble.

Finally, remember that Quick-Fire Viewer contest Bravo ran for TCJD? You can find the winner and her recipe for Key Lime Lollies here.

Interview with Tom Colicchio and Anthony Bourdain

I had the great pleasure of participating in a conference call with Top Chef's head judge Tom Colicchio and new regular judge Anthony Bourdain. It was my birthday, which made it even more of a treat.

While some callers attempted to squeeze out telling information about the upcoming All-Stars season 8 (to no avail), others asked some interesting questions of the two judges.

One caller wanted to know how Tom and Tony stayed so slim, which of course is only pertinent to Bourdain and not to Colicchio, who admitted he was a "a hamburger away from 250." He did say he worked out when he could, usually boxing. Bourdain, on the other hand, claimed to have been to a gym "for 20 minutes once. My wife bought me some training sessions and I decided that there was nothing attractive about laying on the floor trying not to vomit in front of total strangers.

"I basically Google (Keith Richards) everyday, if he is still alive I figure there is hope for me."

The questioning then turned to Thanksgiving Plans.

Bourdain: "I tell you right now I’m eating turkey, I’m not a communist. I mean, by God lets fill up with turkey, stuffing, gravy. It doesn’t even have to be good turkey, stuffing and gravy. It’s - you know, it’s the holidays."

Colicchio: "I will spend the early part of the day feeding people who are a little less fortunate. And then after a little later I will have dinner."

"My dinner is the same one I’ve been doing for a few years now. It’s roast turkey, the stuffing is a golden raisin semolina stuffing that I make with pork breakfast sausage. And only because I have a restaurant, and I have access to it, there is a lot of pork belly and foie gras scraps thrown in there for good measure. And brussels sprouts, bacon, onions, butternut squash puree, roasted root vegetables, cranberry sauce. If my mother-in-law is coming over, it’s canned cranberry sauce, because she doesn’t like the fresh stuff. So I’ll do both. And she happens to be a very good cook too - my wife’s stepmother that is. "

The response to another question made it seem like Bourdain had a bit of a mancrush on Fabio: "He’s charming, he’s Italian. I love Italian food, my wife is Italian. ...if I’m bitter about anything in my life it’s that I’m not Italian American. So you know, he is a very charming guy."

Eventually it was my turn and I asked Bourdain why he seemed so extremely nice when he acted as judge in season 7, especially since his buddy Eric Ripert seemed so bitchy by comparison. I specifically asked if the aliens who kidnapped him returned his snark. After some laughter, the response, "...the most perverted thing I could do is to make Eric the bad guy on that show. I mean, I saw my opportunity. He is always the good one you know, he’s a very good friend, he’s always seen as the good guy, the nice guy, the loveable one. And he was being - I thought he was being pretty harsh. So I saw my opportunity to make him Darth Vader.

Other topics discussed included Twitter and blogging. Bourdain leaves the tweeting to his wife Ottavia and occasionally gets her to send his comments into the Twitterverse. Colicchio says he's Tweeted in the past, but that West coasters get angry if he reveals who won. His response to this? "What are you doing here, if you don’t want to know?"

You probably think I'm mean by not revealing anything they said about the show, but honestly, there wasn't much. Colicchio insisted that the judges know nothing about behind-the-scenes hijinks or drama until we do - when the episodes are aired - or if someone brings it up at Judge's Table. And that the playing field is pretty even this season because the judges "kind of know them all." He also thinks Dale Talde has matured. Guess that means no crotch-grabbing and cursing this season, at least not in front of the judges.

We'll just have to watch and find out.

(An aside: it's not until you attempt to edit the transcript from a phone interview until you realize how many times people say "you know" between every few words. Both were guilty.)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Meet the All Stars - Stephen Asprinio

Although we don't give this award out, one could call Stephen our "Top Sommelier" for his unparalleled knowledge of wine. Making it all the way to the top five in Top Chef's inaugural season, Stephen Asprinio proved he still had it winning the Quickfire Challenge during an all-star special with his perfect egg omelet ... one-handed!

Stephen has had a passion for food and wine from a very young age, and always knew he wanted to establish himself as an influential person in the hospitality industry. In addition to his culinary training under highly acclaimed chefs such as Morimoto Masaharu at Nobu, Stephen dedicated himself to his pursuit of wine, and at 19, became the youngest person to pass the United States Sommelier Association’s Certificate Examination. After graduating from the CIA and Cornell University, he became one of the youngest Sommeliers in the country while working for Michael Mina’s Nob Hill at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Following his appearance on the first season of Top Chef, at the age of 26, Stephen Asprinio opened his first and namesake restaurant, Forté di Asprinio in South Florida, which was named "One of the Top 10 Best New Restaurants in the United States" by the Gayot Restaurant Guide. He has since relocated to New York City where his hospitality firm, S.A. Hospitality Innovations is based, with plans for his next restaurant venture in 2011.

Meet the All Stars - Tiffani Faison

Tiffani went up against Harold Dieterle in the Season 1 finale in Las Vegas. Although Tom Colicchio has said in the past that her artichoke risotto was one of the best dishes he's ever eaten on the show, the fact that she presented duos for each course bit her in the arse, and Harold took home the title. Tiffani did, however, win our holiday special that aired in 2007.

Born in Northern Germany to a military family, Tiffani moved extensively throughout her childhood and her travels exposed her to a diversity of cuisines. She took her first job in the hospitality industry at the age of 14 in Northern California but the kitchen later caught her eye while working as a bus-er at a restaurant in Boston. Within a matter of months, she was the line cook for celebrity chef and restaurateur, Todd English, and was quickly promoted to Sous Chef. She eventually traveled and cooked side by side with English. Later, the acclaimed chef Daniel Boulud hand-selected her to open his first West Coast venture, Daniel Boulud Brasserie at the Mobil five-star Wynn Las Vegas Hotel. Viewing Boston as a home base, Tiffani moved to Nantucket to get back to the roots of restaurant cooking at the island’s Straight Wharf. From there, she teamed up with her former mentor Todd English as Interim Executive Chef for a 400-room boutique hotel, worked as the private chef for actor Will Smith, and as a consulting chef for the firm “The Culinary Edge.” In 2010, Tiffani joined ROCCA Kitchen & Bar in Boston as Executive Chef and recently garnered three stars from The Boston Globe.

Buzz up!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

A Taste of Top Chef All-Stars

Our friends at Bravo sent me a screener of the premiere episode of Top Chef All-Stars, which Neal P and I eagerly watched the other evening. After the disappointment of season 7, we were really hoping that season 8 would be an improvement, that there would be some life and excitement. That we would care who won and who lost.

I'm happy to report that, from what we saw, Top Chef All Stars is going to deliver the goods!

I loved seeing all of my favorite Top Cheftestants - Richard Blais, Tre Wilcox, Fabio Viviani, Dale Levitski, Jennifer Carroll - in one place, competing against each other. They are all in it to win it this time, so I expect lots of drama and maybe even some sabotage and tears. ::::rubbing hands together:::: it should make for some great recaps!

The Elimination Challenge in this particular episode was an "adding insult to injury" type of situation for the cheftestants, which new permanent judge Anthony Bourdain seemed to relish. Yes, folks, after his nicey-nice counterpoint to Eric Ripert's pouting petulance last season, making us all wonder if aliens had abducted the real Bourdain and left a wan simulacrum in his place, the snark is back! Long live Bourdain!

(I know you were all hoping for the return of Toby Young.)

It was a little stunning to see who ended up on the chopping block in this first episode, after all, with few exceptions, most cheftestants had finished in the top 4 of their season. But, this is a competition, not a popularity contest, and somebody had to go.

You'll find out who when you tune in on December 1st!

Top Recipe - Top Chef Just Desserts Finale

Find the printable recipe for Yigit's first course here. The second course recipe can be found here. Third here. And final course here.

Friday, November 19, 2010

And the Top Chef Just Desserts Fan Favorite Is....

Yigit Pura. I'm sure the shirtlessness helped.

And you all thought it would be Zac.

Bravo Exit Interview - Danielle Keene

TC News and Info Special Edition: Yigit's Finale Viewing Party and The Elves Speak

With special dispensation from "Bravo and the Pope,” Yigit and a crowd of supporters watched an early West Coast viewing Wednesday night of the Just Desserts finale at Macy’s at San Francisco's Union Square. Click through for some print, lots of photos, and especially the video, where Yigit expresses his relief to no longer have to "keep this bloody thing a secret", his amazement that so many people actually know how to pronounce his name, his thoughts on deciding to contribute to the Trevor/It Gets Better Project, and his appreciation for Sherry Yard, his sous-chef on day one of the TCJD final challenge. Oh, yeah, and the crowd also goes wil

Now that the inaugural season of Top Chef Just Desserts is over, want to know what the producers were up against? Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz  of The Magical Elves share some behind-the-scenes tidbits here.

Bravo Exit Interview - Morgan Wilson

Thursday, November 18, 2010

All Top Chef Interview with Morgan Wilson

Top Chef Just Desserts Finalist, Morgan Wilson talks about his experience on the show.

A highlight: There is only one thing that Morgan would change if he could go back...

Click here for the podcast.

Thanks Morgan!

All Top Chef Interview with Danielle Keene

Top Chef Just Desserts finalist, Danielle Keene talks to ATC about her experience on the show.

Click here for the podcast.

Click here for Danielle's website.

Thank you Danielle!

All Top Chef Interview with Yigit Pura

Top Chef Just Desserts champion, Yigit Pura talks to ATC about his experience on the show and about his plans for the future.

Click here for the podcast.

Click here for the Taste Catering website.

Thank you Yigit!

Congratulations, Chef Yigit Pura!

Congratulations go to Chef Yigit Pura, the first winner of Top Chef Just Desserts!

Chef Pura was a very strong competitor all season, despite his occasional bouts of insecurity. His dishes were always full of complex flavors and techniques, and it was always a joy to watch him compete.

His four-course progressive dessert menu was nearly flawless - the panel of judges could barely make any criticisms, and Dannielle Kyrillos seemed positively rapturous the whole time.

Congratulations, once again, Chef Pura! We'll eagerly look forward to hearing about your work in the future.

This post is for positive comments about Chef Pura. If you have anything negative to say about him or his competitors, please do so here.

Reactions to the Top Chef Just Desserts Finale

For the final challenge on Top Chef Just Desserts, the three remaining pastrycheftestants, Yigit, Morgan, and Danielle, had to create a progressive four course dessert tasting. But first...they are sent off to a "special event" which is basically meeting Elvis Johnny at a bar called the Edison where he plys them with delicious desserts. And then he introduces their creators, three pastry chefs extraordinaires--Sherry Yard, Elizabeth Falkner, and Claudia Fleming--who are also going to be the sous chefs for this finale challenge. After drawing cookies, Danielle gets Elizabeth, Yigit gets Sherry, and Morgan gets Claudia.

The chefs shop for ingredients and then set to work with their sous chefs. Let's just say that Morgan and Claudia do not hit it off at all, while the other teams seem, well, like teams.

The next day, the pastrycheftestants get new sous in the form of former Just Desserts competitors. Drawing cookies once again, Danielle gets Tania, Yigit gets Tim, and Morgan gets Heather H. who as we've seen all season long can't stand him. Man can't catch a break, but maybe he should be less douchey, eh?

Later, as they present their dishes to the many diners (Suzanne Goin, Susan Feniger, Ron Ben-Israel, and James Oseland among them), it seems that all three finalists have done an amazing job, with fairly minor issues. Morgan's third course soufflé flopped on some plates, and Danielle's fourth course may have been too rustic for the judges, however the flavors could not be disputed.

In the end, however, Yigit takes the win for his near-flawless execution. Congrats, Yigit!

So what did you all think about the finale? Please leave a comment!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Morgan's Godiva Chocolates Now Available

For $20, you can sample 2 pieces each of Top Chef Just Desserts competitor Morgan Wilson's winning chocolates, Acai Berry, Passion Fruit, Green Tea, and Chocolate Mendiant. Click here to order.

A Little ATC Love for Tiffany Derry

We're sorry to hear that Go Fish, the Dallas restaurant helmed by Season 7 Fan Favorite and returning All-Star Tiffany Derry (nka Tiffany Derry-Mitchell) closed suddenly on Saturday.

Tiffany's reaction on her facebook page: "Last nite the owners of Go Fish closed its doors and decided not to tell me nor the staff anything. How do you tell all the guys that has been with you for over 2 years that they no longer have a job.Like a thief in the night they packed everything away and til this point has not called to explain anything to me. It wont hold me down because tomorrow is a new day and God is good all the time, vengeance is the Lord."

Meanwhile, if you're so inclined, you can vote for Tiffany in Entertainment Weekly's bracket-style contest for "Under-appreciated Entertainer of the Year" (she's up against Mondo Guerra from Project Runway). Or feel free to leave a few words of support in our comments section.

Best of luck, Chef Tiffany. We're looking forward to seeing you again on Top Chef 8: All Stars, and hoping plenty of new doors will open for you.

Recap Roundup: Top Chef Just Desserts 9

Jordan Baker on pastrycheftestants at home: "Yigit has a bad feeling about the day because of the 'bump in the road' he had last challenge. So he walks around the loft shaving to get over it. Between this and Seth’s kitchen shave and Danielle’s bathroom cereal, I’m beginning to think pastry chefs are secretly a bunch of disgustoids. Anyway, he says he really wants to win because there’s never been a chef from San Francisco or a gay chef who won. Which...I’m stunned, but he’s right on that. Seems so impossible. And yet...."

Creative Loafing on the Quickfire Challenge: "The Quickfire saw the chef’testants preparing four truffles that represented their lives: people who are important to them and their 'golden moment.'"

My Monkey Could Do That on the Elimination Challenge: "Gail shows up and says she wants them to spend time with Ben and his wife…who is Sylvia Weinstock. Everyone claps and pretends to be glad but secretly wets their pants. I mean…would you want to make a cake for Sylvia Weinstock? Jeez."

TWOP on Sylvia Weinstock: "By the way, Sylvia Weinstock is a dead ringer for Edna Mode from The Incredibles. Well a cross between Edna Mode and Auntie Mame. I could only hope to be so fabulous in my dotage. Hell, even now."

Culture Mob shares thoughts on host Gail Simmons: "I love how when Gail walks into the kitchen, she strides in like a model on the runway. She gets excellent hair movement, like she’s walking into a lightly blowing fan. Tyra would be proud."

After Elton on Morgan: "Morgan also says he’s feeling rather lonely right now, and for some reason I got this mental image from the movie Team America of the Kim Jong-il puppet singing, 'I’m all alone.' Morgan does seem to be thinking of himself in super-villain terms these days – he practically twirls a mustache when he talks about how all the others are 'selfish brats' he’d like to see gone. Presumably after tying them to the train tracks and demanding they must pay the rent."

Monday, November 15, 2010

Top Chef Just Desserts Finale Poll

The finale airs this Wednesday, November 17th. Which of the remaining three pastrycheftestants do you think will win the competition?

TC News and Information 11.15.10

In case you can't get enough of Richard Blais when he returns to Top Chef All-Stars, starting December 17 he will also have a new show on the Science Channel, Blaisin Out, in which he uses "ultra-modern tools and techniques to deconstruct and then re-engineer new-and-improved versions of America's most popular meals using technology and science."

Speaking of All-Stars, it's not too early to book a reservation at Jennifer Carroll's restaurant, 10 Arts, for the All-Stars premiere viewing party. She'll be serving a special tasting menu of her favorite winning dishes from her original season, the 6th. Hope she's saving her favorite dishes from her upcoming turn on the All-Star season for future viewing parties.

If you're looking for an update on returning Dale Levitski, with a soupcon of inside scoop on the All-Stars, you won't want to miss this great new interview. I'm a little disappointed to read that Anthony Bourdain, who was supposed to be a regular judge for the All-Stars, alternating with Gail Simmons, judged only twice . . . unless that means Dale L. only lasted through two of the episodes judged by Bourdain (in which case, I'm also a little disappointed).

A whole bunch of TC contestants will be appearing at the Seventh Annual San Diego Bay Wine and Food Festival, which runs November 17-21. Season 6's Eli Kirshtein and Season 7's Andrea Curto-Randazzo join returning All-Star Brian Malarkey on Friday night, while Season 7's Kenny Gilbert helps with the menu for Sunday’s Celebrity Chef Luncheon & Live Auction. More info here and here.

We know TC head judge Tom Colicchio likes his guitars, but this is interesting. On November 23 at NYC's Del Posto, he and a number of other music-lovin' chefs will participate in a "Music and Culinary Summit," for which the chefs will pair each course not only with wine but also with music. Eater.com calls it "the Traveling Wilburys of the kitchen" and you can find more info here.

In other musical news, Top Chef Masters contestant Tim Love bested Mario Batali and Guy Fieri in the recent Asphalt Chef Challenge at Texas Motor Speedway that raised more than $85,000 for charity. And if that wasn't enough, the cheftestants hopped up on stage to sing "Hot Blooded" with Foreigner singer Kelly Hansen, Love's sous chef, afterward. You can find video here.

Speaking of smackdowns, and charity events, returning All-Star Spike Mendolsohn made it to the top 2 but then lost out with his Thai-inspired beet salad at the recent Capitol Food Fight, which raised $500K for D.C.'s Central Kitchen. The event was hosted and judged by Tom Colicchio, Anthony Bourdain, Eric Ripert and Jose Andres. For more on the banter and ingredients, as well as photos, click here and here. You can also see video of the surprise cook-off where Tom Colicchio and Jose Andres took on Anthony Bourdain and Eric Ripert - and which team won by audience applause - here.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Top Recipe - Top Chef Just Desserts Episode 9

You can find the printable version of Danielle's chocolate cake with sour cherry compote and Greek yogurt ice cream here.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Vote for All Top Chef!

All Top Chef has been nominated for a Mobbie Award, a Baltimore Sun bloggers competition. Today is the last day of voting, and we'd appreciate if you could cast your vote for us. We're at #3 in a field of 19 competitors in the category of Pop Culture and we'd love to be #1! Every vote counts.

Click here to vote. You'll have to register to vote. If the link doesn't take you directly to our specific blog, then scroll down to the "pop culture" category.


Bravo Exit Interview - Zac Young

Thursday, November 11, 2010

All Top Chef Interview with Zac Young

Top Chef Just Desserts contestant Zac Young, talks about his experience on the Bravo Show.

A highlight: Yigit recently made the cake for Zac's sister's baby shower!

Click here to learn more about Flex Mussels.

Click here for the podcast.

Thank you Chef Zac!

Congratulations, Chef Danielle Keene!

And finally we have an Elimination Challenge win for pastrycheftestant Danielle Keene! While she was a regular visitor to the bottom three early on in the competition, she showed later on that she has what it takes to make it to the final three, and maybe even win the whole shooting match.

After narrowly missing the Quickfire win with her candymaking skill (love the caramel corn truffle!), she wowed Sylvia Weinstock with her piano key-and-roses decorated layer cake.

We always knew Chef Keene had it in her! Way to go! Last woman standing! Now go win this thing!

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

ATC Love to Chef Zac Young

Another member of Team Go Diva takes the fall this week when Zac Young's blue-iced layer cake is not a favorite of cake queen Sylvia Weinstock and the rest of the judges. Last week, Zac won the Elimination Challenge with his clever tea party cakes, so it was surprising to see how far off-course he went this time around.

Though the cake lost points for unattractiveness, the judges praised its multi-level moistness. Unfortunately, moistness wasn't enough.

All Top Chef is sorry to see that Zac did not make it to the final three, but he is still a winner in our eyes nonetheless.

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

Reactions to Top Chef Just Desserts Episode 9

In this penultimate episode of Top Chef Just Desserts, we're left with four pastrycheftestants, each vying to be number one.

For the Quickfire Challenge, they are tasked with creating a four-piece assortment of chocolates that tells their life stories, one of which must represent their "golden moment." The winner of this challenge will have one piece of their chocolate manufactured and sold by Godiva. The pastrycheftestants all seem to think this is a great thing, when really it's Godiva making money off of them.

After two hours, the candy making is complete...well, except for Yigit's fourth piece which didn't want to cooperate...and Gail Simmons and guest judge Francois Payard come in for a tasting and judgement. For a minute there, it looks like Danielle will get the win, but Morgan is once more the victor.

Next up, the Elimination Challenge. Gail introduces an old man named Ben to the pastrycheftestants and tells them they will be creating an anniversary cake for Ben's 61st wedding anniversary. The cakes will be judged on flavor as well as appearance, and the winner of the challenge will receive $15K.

After shopping, the chefs have 10 hours to prep. During this time, Gail thinks it would be fun for them to get to know their clients better, so in strolls Ben with his wife...Sylvia Weinstock, the bespectacled judge from earlier in the season. The pastrycheftestants now know they need to step up their game if they're going to impress the Cake Queen. Even Johnny Iuzzini admits that making a cake for Sylvia would intimidate him.

The next day, they move their cakes to the venue, a hideous, flat, modern-style house in Beverly Hills, where they have two more hours to complete their project. Soon enough, the place is swarming with senior citizens with forks ready to taste. Sylvia is quick with the barbs, saying that Zac's inelegant pile of blue and disco dust "would be a great bar mitzvah cake" and that Yigit's cake was like "a woman who wears all of her jewelry at one time." Zing!

Morgan's cake is a little dry and boring, but Payard likes the piano on top. Danielle's cake gets mostly praise, apart from displeasure at the "battleship gray" color of her buttercream.

The judges manage to find something bad to say about all of the cakes, but they seemed especially hard on Zac who takes the opportunity to throw Morgan under a vehicle of mass transportation. His complaint? Morgan doesn't seem excited when he wins challenges. Morgan then retorts that he would rather remain composed than flail around like a little girl.


It ends up being Danielle who flails around like a little girl after being announced the winner of the challenge. And Zac is asked to pack up his offset spatula and candy thermometer and begone.

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

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

TC News and Information 11.10.10

It's a big week for Stephanie Izard! In addition to her impressive sweep of the Eater awards, her restaurant, The Girl and The Goat, has learned it's won a Michelin Bib Gourmand designation. It seems the Windy City is abuzz with anticipation of next week's release of the Michelin Guide, with special events lined up that include a panel discussion/radio-show taping with Stephanie and TC Masters contestant Graham Elliot on November 18 and a live chat November 19 featuring Rick Bayless and Art Smith of TC Masters with former NY Times food critic Frank Bruni. More info about both events here. The Girl and The Goat also took the top spot on Chicago Magazine's November Hot List. Want to try some of Stephanie's food but don't live in Chicago? You might be in luck if you're near Miami or NYC. This month all of Mercadito's locations are featuring her braised chicken taco with avocado crème fraîche, fermented black bean, nicoise olive tapenade, mint, preserved lemons, sambal, smoked tomato and shaved brussel sprouts, at 4 tacos for $16 to benefit Share Our Strength. TC Masters contestant Wylie Dufresne is another chef who will design a taco for the year-long benefit. You can find out more here and here.

Where else can you meet and eat with Top Chef contestants? All over, it seems. Here are just a few upcoming events.

Mike Isabella and Carla Hall will be at the Metropolitan Cooking and Entertainment Show in D.C. November 13. And here's something a little different - Carla is also appearing at the 17th Annual Funniest Celebrity in Washington Contest December 2.

Meanwhile, Dave Martin will be doing a cooking class in the "other" Washington November 17, at Desert Wind Winery in the Yakima Valley, and has other upcoming appearances in Washington, Oregon and Nebraska.

Dave's Season 1 rival, Tiffani Faison, will be participating in Eat Your Heart Out Boston November 14 at the Paradise Rock Club where chefs and local bands team up to benefit local charities. In an interesting twist, the chefs will "style plates in homage to their music idols" - Tiff's dish: pork belly agrodolce, house-made “hots,” foie pastrami mayo, and crispy onion, inspired by Ray Lamontagne’s "New York City’s Killing Me."

If New York isn't killing you, you can catch Richard Blais demo-ing sous-vide equipment at Bloomie's on November 20.

Jen Carroll and Rick Moonen will be headlining the James Beard Celebrity Chef Tour in Las Vegas November 15.

And this one sounds like a lot of fun - if you're in Palmetto Bluff, South Carolina November 20, you can see Gail Simmons, Kevin Gillespie, Kevin Sbraga and Kenny Gilbert at the Music to Your Mouth Culinary Festival. How much more fun could the Low Country be?

Tonight's Top Chef Just Desserts Preview

As the finale quickly approaches, the remaining chef'testants really start to feel the pressure. Channeling their emotions, the chefs must create a box of truffles, a process that typically takes multiple days, in just a couple of hours. Morgan, the group outcast is full of emotions and ready for the competition. Will the chef's make it through this Quickfire or will they (and their truffles) crumble under the pressure?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

TC News and Information 11.9.10

Wow! Stephanie Izard, winner and Fan Favorite of Top Chef Season 4, has racked up some serious wins in the 2010 Eater Awards, including being voted Chef of the Year: National. Stephanie and her new restaurant, The Girl and the Goat, also pretty much swept the Chicago categories, taking Chef of the Year, Restaurant of the Year, and So Hot, Right Now awards for the Windy City.

But wait, there’s more. Top Chef Masters contestant Ludo Lefebvre won for Chef of the Year: Los Angeles (beating out TC Season 6 winner Michael Voltaggio), as well as for Concept of the Year, for his LudoBites pop-up (which we offered you a glimpse of here). TC Masters Season 2 winner Marcus Samuelsson took the Fameball of the Year award (beating out TC Season 4’s Spike Mendelsohn). And judge Eric Ripert was voted Television Personality of the Year, in a category where four of the five nominees have Top Chef connections – the others: judge Anthony Bourdain, TC Masters contestant Susur Lee, and even TC Just Desserts contestant Seth Caro. Hey, Eater’s readers/voters may include an atypically high percentage of Top Chef fans, but you gotta love a contest with a sense of humor.

And if that’s not enough crazy for you, Bravo is said to be adding another cooking reality show to its line-up, featuring TC judge Rocco DiSpirito. Rocco attempts to explain how his Rocco’s Dinner Party won’t be just another TC spin-off here. Hmmm. Could be interesting to see what Rocco’s learned about making television since The Restaurant.

In other competition news, TC Masters contestant Tim Love bested Mario Batali and Guy Fieri in the Asphalt Challenge benefit at the Texas Motor Speedway in Ft. Worth. Apparently some trash talk was involved.

Recap Roundup - Top Chef Just Desserts Episode 8

Jordan Baker also watches Project Runway: "Yigit decides to take a page out of Gretchen’s book and tell us what he thinks about how all of his competitors aren’t as good as he is: he thinks Danielle’s piece is not what Shinmin would want to see; Erik’s cupcake is 'a little disarrayed'; Zac’s piece looks like a flower arrangement that had a rough night; and Morgan’s uses brown, which is 'not a flower color.'"

Creative Loafing on sabotage? "Morgan show us that he knows how to 'pull sugar' (I just think that makes a great innuendo) and then 'accidentally' knocked over one of Yigit’s sugar vases. Do I smell sabotage?"

After Elton on the Elimination twist: "Then Fonzie marches in to announce that this challenge is about to jump the shark. He’s looking more Fonzie-like than usual, in a black T-shirt, tight jeans, and visible pocket chain, walking in with this cocky strut, like it’s still Halloween and he’s going to a party dressed as Melissa Etheridge. He tells the chefs that for this challenge, they’ve taken away all the chocolate."

My Monkey Could Do That on being more observant than the judges: "The savory shortbread is square, and I giggle at the “Stedman is square” comment. They’re messy, and Johnny complains they are too big, but they taste delicious and the shortbread is done properly....I like that they’re both shortbread, like Stedman cannot be defined except as a variation on Oprah."

Culture Mob on Zac's presentation: "Zac is up next, and he gets excellent marks across the board; he also manages to shoehorn about 400 Sound of Music references in, and it’s making me wonder why he didn’t just make crisp apple streudel and be done with it (did anyone get that?)."

TWOP on the end is near: "Gail begins the proceedings by pointing out that their attitudes needed some adjustment because this was the Best Challenge EVER and they both seemed like little sugar spun Eeyore's with cotton candy clouds of sadness hanging over their heads. Can't they cheer up at the awesomeness of this celebri-TEA party challenge? Eric glumly shakes his head no. He just couldn't push through the hurdle of trying to represent Oprah without any chocolate."

Monday, November 8, 2010

Fan Favorite Voting

Voting is open for Top Chef Just Desserts Fan Favorite! Click here to vote up to 40 times for your favorite pastrycheftestant.

TC News and Information 11.8.10

TC6 finalist and Fan Fave Kevin Gillespie has two cookbooks in the works with publisher Andrews & McMeel. Way to go, Kevin!

Speaking of Fan Favorite, the polls are now open at Bravo.com to vote for Top Chef: Just Desserts Fan Fave.

Here's a great new interview with judge Gail Simmons.

It's official - TC7's Angelo Sosa's winning short ribs are set to launch into space, and NASA has the details.

For something a little more down-home, check out the Apple Cranberry Frangipane Tart Season 5's Carla Hall shared with NPR. "All it is is almonds and sugar and butter, oh my!" she says.

Yigit Pura may not have made it into the top 3 on last week's episode of Just Desserts, but he managed to claim a spot inside The Bullseye on Entertainment Weekly.

And here's a fun contest, the 1st Ever Alaska Wild Fish Taco Contest. The winner gets to hang out with the Too Hot Tamales, TC Masters contestant Susan Feniger and her long-time business partner, Mary Sue Milliken, on their taco truck making your winning dish! Even if you're not thinking of submitting an entry, click through to the animated promo - it's a hoot!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Top Recipe - Top Chef Just Desserts Episode 8

Find the printable version of Zac Young's Cap'n Crunch cheesecake here, and the recipe for his Pink Panther pavlova here.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Thursday, November 4, 2010

All Top Chef Interview with Eric Wolitzky

Top Chef: Just Desserts contestant, Chef Eric Wolitzky talks about his experience on the Bravo Show.

Highlights: His recommendation for any future contestants is to "memorize your recipes." Sometimes the chef with the best memory will win.

Also his best friend from the show is Erika Davis.

Click here for the podcast.

Click here for the Baked website.

Thank you Chef Eric!