Saturday, April 30, 2011

Top Recipe - Floyd Cardoz's Buffalo Meatball

Buffalo Meatball, Farro, Spinach, Cheese, Tomato Sauce & Asparagus

4 packs ground bison
2 large sweet onions, diced
2 tablespoons minced ginger
1 tablespoon minced chili pepper
4 Roma tomatos diced
1 teaspoons black pepper
2 cloves, ground fine
1/4 inch cinnamon ground fine
1 cup minced cilantro

2 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon mustard
1 tablespoon cumin
2 cloves
1/4 teaspoons cayenne
1 two inch piece of Pasilla de Oaxaca chilies
2 tablespoons tamarind pate
2 cups diced tomato
1 cup mint cut in thick strips
2 cups onion diced
6 cloves garlic minced
2 inches minced ginger

Paneer Cheese:
3/4 gallon non-fat milk
1 tablespoon turmeric
1 cup champagne vinegar
Salt and pepper

1 cup farro
3 cups chicken stock
1 bay leave
1 clove
1 inch peeled sliced ginger
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 small sprig rosemary

1. In a large sauté pan heat the onions over moderate heat and cook until tender. Cool for approximately 15 minutes.
2. Combine all the above ingredients and mix well. Form into meatballs. Flash fry in very hot oil so meat gets golden and seared. Pat dry with paper towels. Lay on a cookie sheet and cook in 350 degree oven for 10 minutes.

1. Heat the oil and add the whole spices and bloom. Add the onions, garlic and ginger.
2. Cook till transparent. Add tomatoes and tamarind and cook for 30 minutes. Add cayenne and sugar if needed
3. Finish with mint

Paneer Cheese:
1. Heat milk to almost boiling. Add salt, turmeric and vinegar
2. When milk boils, whisk for 1-2 minutes more
3. Strain in a cheese cloth discard liquid and pour cold water to cool.

1. Cut the base of the asparagus at the point it is beginning to turn purple.
2. Blanch asparagus in boiling salted water.

1. Dry toast the farro in a small stew pot.
2. Add the ginger, garlic, rosemary, clove, and bay leaf toast for 2 minutes more.
3. Add the stock, salt and pepper and cook for 5 minutes. Cover and season with Salt and pepper


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Friday, April 29, 2011

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Congratulations, Chef Floyd Cardoz!

In this week's Elimination Challenge, the chefs had to lighten up some favorite - and high-calorie - dishes of contestants on The Biggest Loser. Chef Cardoz was assigned a meatball sub, and he delivered a version that had everyone smacking their lips in enjoyment.

Chef Cardoz - it's good to see you win a big challenge like this, and your charity now has an additional $10K in its coffers. Congratulations, and we hope you continue to have success in this competition.

This post is only for positive comments about Chef Cardoz and his dishes. If you have anything negative to say, please do so here.

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ATC Love to Chef Suvir Saran

Chef Suvir Saran took the opportunity to fly his vegetarian flag in this week's Elimination Challenge. Tasked with creating a low-calorie burger for a contestant on The Biggest Loser, he chose to make a veggie burger that did not satisfy his customer or the critics' cravings for meat.

Chef Saran, we are so sorry to see you leave this early in the competition. Not only are you a great chef, but you are also extremely entertaining and a joy to watch. You will be missed.

This post is only for positive comments about Chef Saran and his dishes. If you have anything negative to say, please do so here.

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Reactions to Top Chef Masters 3 Episode 4

This week's Quickfire Challenge was a bit cheesetastic - literally. The nine remaining chefs had to create dishes from a wide variety of only 12 minutes. Super-ambitious Naomi immediately slaps a steak into a pan, while Traci takes a simpler route by turning a slab of Colombier into "carpaccio." Suvir reaches to his Indian roots and makes cheese pakora, which he plates simply, saying the presentation was "more Calvin Klein than Paul Smith." Mary Sue makes her own tortillas, of course. 

Curtis brings in cheese expert Norbert from Beverly Hills Cheese Shop to sample the chefs' wares. While Floyd's version of elote (cheesed-up corn) is a bit too spicy for Norbert, and George's onions were too oniony, Naomi's steak and Traci's carpaccio were perfect. Traci wins this challenge and gets another $5K for her immunity in the next challenge...

...which is a Kabletown NBC cross-promotion with their hit show, The Biggest Loser. The chefs have to take the fattening favorites of this season's former fatties and create lower-calorie (but still delicious versions). There are three each breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, plus one dessert. The real challenge here is that the chefs have to work in teams of three to create a full day's menu that comes in under 1500 total calories.

The Blue Team of Naomi, George, and Floyd have to transform French toast, pizza, and meatball subs, respectively.

The Red Team of Celina, Traci, and Hugh must cut the calories from a bacon and egg sandwich, a Chinese buffet, and roast beef with baked potatoes.

And the Green Team of Mary Sue, Alex, and Suvir have to make corned beef hash, fried chicken, and bacon cheeseburgers healthier.

All have to make a variation on brownies for dessert.

The Biggest Loser Allison Sweeney and two of the trainers, Carla and Brett, are on hand, as are the show's contestants, to talk to the chefs about their favorite foods and ideas on how to lighten things up a bit.

After thirty minutes of shopping and ninety minutes of cooking, the chefs present their dishes, breakfasts first. Miraculously, the chefs have managed to keep their meals way under the 1500 calorie limit: Blue adds up to 1221, Red to 1263, and Green to 1368. But how did everything taste?

The Blue Team was called to Critics' Table first and told that they had the best dishes of the evening. Floyd's bison meatball sub with paneer made everyone happy, so he was awarded 10K for his charity.

The Green Team didn't fare as well. Mary Sue's hash was too chunky and her eggs were unevenly cooked; Alex's cornbread was leaden and his version of fried chicken didn't thrill James very much. But Suvir, who insisted on making an all-vegetarian version of a bacon cheeseburger, even lecturing the diners about the evils of red meat while presenting his dish, really fell flat. His sandwich did not satisfy the craving for a slab of greasy meat and this very charming chef was asked to leave.

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

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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Recap Roundup: Top Chef Masters 3 Episode 3

Jordan Baker on Suvir: "Next out is Suvir’s Chaat Salad of Chickpeas and Yogurt with Baby Spinach. Danyelle says it’s delicious, and Alan says the yogurt really rounds out the whole dish. Oseland worries that he’s too much inside his comfort zone. Back in the kitchen, Mary Sue raves about how delicious it is and asks what’s in it. 'You’ll copy me for the next challenge; I’m not giving it to you,' Suvir says.

Hm, writing that out raises a question for me: is everything Suvir says actually hilarious, or is just made to seem hilarious because of his over-the-top delivery and charming accent? Is Suvir the Indian Fabio? Will I get really tired of him eventually too?"

AV Club on bugging out: "The challenge was a fun one, testing the chefs’ ability to build a dish around something that many of them were unwilling to actually taste (I believe Celina was the only person who we saw taste her bugs, but she had eaten crickets before). Based on either instinct or experience, most of them handled the bugs effectively, with only George’s large portions and Suvir’s uncooked worms (necessitated by his strict vegetarianism, which meant he was unwilling to kill a creature himself) being singled out as unsuccessful. Everyone else fried, grilled, and vinaigretted their way into the good graces of the Discovery Channel hosts, and I thought the results were pretty fun."

Oregon Live on some people don't like the bossy: "Pomeroy's approach keeps the charity dinner from becoming an 'every man for himself' brawl, and establishes order in what could have been chaos. But it turns some of the competition's big guns off. Traci Des Jardins says Pomeroy's demeanor annoys her, but decides that with so much going on and such high stakes, she'll stay out of the drama. Less gentle is Alex Stratta: 'Although I appreciate Naomi's take-charge attitude, it needs to be taken with a little bit of temperance. Naomi likes to hear herself talk.' Snap."

Eater on lessons: " And out of left field, TRACI IS COOKING! Steak at that. She serves it with a slow cooked broccoli that Young Sytsma doesn’t enjoy. Daddy Oseland gives him a spanking, identifying the virtues of that slow-roasted broccoli. This is when it happens people. These are the moments... Sytsma almost cries and you can see the young Anakin Skywalker go Darth Vader."

TWOP on the Elimination Challenge premise: "This week's elimination challenge is a fundraiser. All the chefs will work as a group, but each chef is responsible for one course of a 10-course tasting menu. In addition to the normal $10,000 up for grabs, the 50 guests will chip in $100 each, totaling an extra $5,000 to the pot. Instead of the usual shopping time, the chefs will have to work with what's in the pantry. They have three hours to cook. Curtis tells them expect a few curve balls to come their way throughout the service."

Monkeys as Critics on critics' table: "James thinks Hugh is like Liberace. He’s amazed he was able to put this together in two and a half hours. Alan is amazed by the perfect, firm texture. Danyelle doesn’t understand the chili hairs. James patiently explains they’re a nice bridge between the savory and the sweet. Then he asks Danyelle what the hell she’s doing at the grown-up table. He doesn’t, but I suspect he’d like to."

Grub Street on behind the scenes: "As critics on the show, we're not just sitting there, eating, and talking to each other. We're also all wearing earpieces, and the producers are saying things like, 'Alan, is there anything you didn't like about John's dish?' Then, if you're just sitting there eating risotto and you hear that question in your ear, you start talking, and you might end up saying something overwrought, like that you don't like the crunch that the pine nuts 'are offering.' And then of course that will be the bit they use for the show."

Don't forget to check out Creative Loafing's Top Chef Podcast!

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Monday, April 25, 2011

TC News and Information 4.25.11

Kevin Gillespie will be making an appearance at, of all things, the grand opening of the Vidalia Onion Museum on April 29. It actually sounds like a pretty cool place. Season 7's Tracey Bloom is also set to appear.

In addition, Kevin is slated to headline the Gig Harbor Wine and Food Festival August 9.

Meanwhile, Season 7's Kenny Gilbert is opening Nippers Beach Grill in Jacksonville Beach, FL May 16 and has a book available called "A Chef's Journal."

Arnold Myint, also of Season 7, has a new addition to his Nashville empire: a "gourmet grab and go cafe" at the Nashville Farmers Market.

Arnold also emceed the Top Chef Tour's stop in Nashville, where All-Star Casey Thompson went up against Season 5's Richard Sweeney.

And Top Chef: Just Desserts' winner Yigit Pura has been named one of the grand marshals of this year's Pride Parade in San Francisco, along with Chaz Bono and Olympia Dukakis.

Meanwhile, when Eric Ripert was asked by a Today Show staffer to describe co-judge Anthony Bourdain in one word, he said: "The grain of salt." I know, I know, that's four words. To hear him explain why, check out this video.

Bourdain himself offers videos with some behind-the-scenes tidbits on Travel Channel's site with Ripert here and here, and one with Tom Colicchio here.

Does it rankle you when Masters host Curtis Stone tosses off comments about dishes he would "be proud to serve at any restaurant anywhere in the world" or describes a bug dish as "not likely to be on the menu" at his restaurant anytime soon? Because, you know, the dude doesn't have any restaurants. In this interview with Yum Sugar, he claims he'll be opening one in LA this year, although he has neither a location nor a name selected yet. And he says he was asked to compete on Masters in its first season.

Finally, here's a thoughtful piece from Josh Ozersky in Time about why he finds Masters so depressing. It's also a bit of a love letter to the Top Chef franchise. What do you think?

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Saturday, April 23, 2011

Top Recipe - Top Chef Masters 3 Episode 3

Curious about Naomi Pomeroy's celery velouté? Here's the recipe:

Celery Velouté with Salsa Verde & Lemon Oil


1 bunch celery
3 leeks
2 onions
3 cloves garlic
4 tablespoons butter
Water, as needed
Crème fraiche, as needed
Cream, as needed
Salt and pepper to taste

Salsa Verde:
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 tablespoon chopped mint
1 tablespoon chopped chervil
1 tablespoon chopped chive
Olive oil, to cover
1 shallot, finely minced
Champagne vinegar to cover
Salt, to taste


1. Sweat out leeks, onion and garlic in butter.
2. Add water to cover.
3. Bring to a simmer, add celery and cook until celery is fully soft.
4. Puree in blender, using a bit of water, cream and crème fraiche (adding as much as you like, depending on desired richness and consistency)
5. Salt and pepper to taste

Salsa Verde:
1. Cover all herbs in oil
2. Macerate shallot in champagne vinegar and salt.
3. Add shallot to oil/herb mix at last minute to prevent discoloring

To Plate:
Spoon a dollop of Salsa Verde on top a bowl of Velouté. Drizzle with lemon oil.


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Friday, April 22, 2011

All Top Chef Interview with John Currence

Master Chef John Currence talks about his experience on the Bravo Show.

Click here to learn more about his City Grocery Restaurant Group.

Click here to listen to the podcast.

Thank you Chef John!

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Bravo Exit Interview - John Currence

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Thursday, April 21, 2011

ATC Love to Chef John Currence

For this week's Elimination Challenge, Chef John Currence stepped in to fill the "app or pasta" gap in the 10 course menu. He chose to make a classic and very simple risotto, which ultimately did not impress the critics with it's plain-ness. Yet, they all admitted that the risotto was perfectly cooked...a testament to John's masterful abilities in the kitchen.

We're sorry to see you go so early in the competition, Chef Currence, but at least you got one Quickfire Challenge win under your belt. We wish you great success in the future.

This post is only for positive comments about Chef Currence and his dishes. If you have anything negative to say, please do so here.

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Congratulations, Chef Naomi Pomeroy

Chef Naomi Pomeroy was in a take-charge mood in this week's Elimination Challenge. Some may even say she was a little "bossy." But nobody could accuse her simple celery veloute of being anything other than perfect.

Chef Pomeroy, you are obviously a chef to be reckoned with, and we at All Top Chef cannot wait to see what you do next in this competition.

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

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Reactions to Top Chef Masters 3 Episode 3

This week, our intrepid Master chefs were required to create a dish with creepy crawlies for their Quickfire Challenge. The choices were beetles, worms, crickets, nightcrawlers, and scorpions, none of which thrilled the competitors. However, in 20 squeamish minutes, just about all of them were able to create a dish that impressed "Man, Woman, Wild" stars Mykel Hawke and Ruth England. Suvir, however, copped out by providing a salad, a jar of live bugs, and a blowtorch, citing that his Hindu faith prohibits him from taking a life.

Hugh and Mary Sue ended up on top in this battle, with Hugh taking top honors and $5,000 for his charity.

The Elimination Challenge seemed a bit easier, more simplistic. Seemed. The ten chefs had to create a ten course tasting menu, each responsible for one dish. The diners would be donating $100 each to the charity of the chef who created their favorite dish. So...diners pick the winner, but the critics pick the loser.

Seemed simple, but there were, of course, twists. After Naomi bludgeons the chefs into telling her their exact dishes so she could micromanage the whole shebang and everyone starts to cook, it's discovered that there is no running water. After they get used to that idea, sorta, Curtis comes in and tells them that their service will start 30 minutes earlier than planned. And sometime after that, he announces that there will be no additional servers for this challenge - the chefs have to do it all themselves.

During this whole time, bossy Naomi and nearly-as-bossy Hugh have a power struggle. I'm glad Hugh came back - he is quite entertaining.

After service, the chefs are all proud of themselves. However, only one can win, and of course one must be eliminated. Naomi and Suvir are called out first to face the critics, which this week includes Alan Sytsma of Grub Street. Suvir's chickpea chaat and Naomi's very simple celery veloute were the favorite dishes of the week, with Naomi coming out on top. Then the bad news: Mary Sue's ceviche was boring, as was John's risotto, and Celina's chocolate "puddin'" was grainy. While it seemed that grainy pudding was the worst fault, John was given the heave ho for his perfectly cooked but otherwise uninspired dish.

What did you think about this episode? Please leave a comment?

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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

TC News and Information 4.20.11

All-Star contestant Spike Mendelsohn will be back on the small screen in October, competing on the next "Next Iron Chef." And he'll be going up against TC Masters 2 winner Marcus Samuelsson and two-time TC Masters contestant Michael Chiarello. Odds, anyone? Grub Street has the full cast lineup.

Not to be outdone, All-Star Fan Favorite Carla Hall will be joining the "The Chew," a daytime talk show devoted to "food from EVERY angle," says the press release. Carla will be part of a "rotating cast" of hosts that includes former Iron Chef Mario Batali, current Iron Chef Michael Symon, "entertaining expert" Clinton Kelly (TLC's "What Not to Wear"), and "nutrition expert" Daphne Oz (who apparently is related to Dr. Oz, also of daytime talk show fame). Eater is all over this story, with the full press release, news of the ire it has inspired in fans of "All My Children" (the daytime soap that will go off the air in September to make room for "The Chew"), Mario Batali's response to the soap backlash, and best of all, a photoshopped image of The View, er, Chew's foodie cast.

Season 4 TC winner Stephanie Izard keeps racking up so many awards it's almost hard to keep track of them. She somehow managed to find time in her crazy schedule to write a blog post about the thrill of being named one of Food + Wine's 10 Best New Chefs of 2011, and it's a a sweet and funny read.

All-Star winner Richard Blais is everywhere these days too. Check out this piece from Yumsugar, where he says he's opening "several restaurants in the Southeast" and confirms he will be part of this year's Top Chef Tour.

The TC Tour got underway last week in St. Louis, and Bravo's website is continuing to add and change details as plans firm up. Click here for the latest and to see if they'll be stopping near you. Season 6's Hector Santiago (who talks about the Tour here) competed against Season 4's Nikki Cascone at the St. Louis stop, which current Masters contestant Celina Tio judged, according to her facebook page.

For an even more impressive Top Chef Midwestern meal (sadly for the rest of us, not part of the Tour), check out this post from blogger Big Shamu at The Karmic Kitchen, who was fortunate enough to taste a six-course meal prepared by Carla Hall and Antonio LoFaso in Kansas City, appropriately dubbed "Girl Power."

In light of the events of last week's Top Chef Masters, here's an interesting piece the LA Times that ran just before that episode aired. Of John Rivera Sedlar (who disappeared from Episode 2 with little fanfare - hence, the return of Hugh Acheson), the LAT says: "As will be seen in an upcoming episode, Sedlar was opening his new restaurant, Playa, at the start of the five-week Top Chef Masters shoot. 'I had everybody working double-time,' Sedlar said. When he saw how the restaurant's marketing campaign was unfolding without his guidance, 'my blood was starting to boil' but he couldn't leave the show to deal with it. That's when he considered fleeing to France." The article also says that Mary Sue Milliken, "clearly a bit more unflappable, decided to leave her restaurants in [business partner and former TCM contestant Susan] Feniger's hands and even moved into the Top Chef Masters contestants' hotel for much of the production, hence her description of it as the 'evil vacation.'" Future episode reveals? A sequesterville hotel? Hmm.

A tip of the hat to my co-blogger here, Minx, who has deduced that this season of Top Chef Masters will conclude June 15, when Rocco DiSpirito's "Dinner Party" prepares to take over the coveted Wednesday night timeslot on Bravo.

And finally, are you as charmed by Suvir Saran as I am? Love his dry wit. Here's a cute piece - and cuter photo - of him. He doesn't seem to be doing a lot of appearances, but if you're near Silicon Valley, you can catch him at the Dining Out for Life fundraiser April 28-29.

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Top Chef Masters 3 Episode 3 Previews

Crickets, nightcrawlers and beetles, oh my! While the master chefs are used to cooking with only the finest ingredients, this week’s Quickfire has the contestants forced to make a delicious dish out of some truly horrifying creatures – can they make their dish edible and refined? The Elimination Challenge however, makes it all worthwhile when the chefs compete to sell their dishes for $100 a plate at a charity fundraiser. For every plate they sell, the money they receive goes directly to their charity of choice and these chefs are in to win it – which ‘Master’ will create something that’s truly worth the price? Find out tonight, 4/20, @ 10/9c on BRAVO's Top Chef Masters 3.

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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Marcel's Quantum Kitchen Giveaway

Have you been watching Marcel's Quantum Kitchen on Syfy?
The liquid nitrogen-toting Marcel Vigneron has a lot to prove -- his reputation in the restaurant world is that of a seasoned molecular gastronomy chef extraordinaire, but he is still known to scores of Top Chef fans as a young and talented chef with an oversized ego. While executing complicated experiments and ideas in the kitchen, Marcel is stoic and demands to be in charge. But he is also surprisingly fun and engaging when outside the kitchen, taking his clients’ requests and dreams for a spectacular experience to heart. His passion for food is unparalleled. He’s an ingénue and food perfectionist who struggles with the belief that he just may be too big for his current kitchen.

In other words - Marcel's a pretty damn creative guy. We like to think his fans are, too, and we have a fantabulous prize to give away to one of them, and the winning can't be easier. Just answer this simple question:

What's the most creative dish you've ever made?

So what's the prize? It's a cooking kit that includes: a canvas tote bag; herb garden set; herb seeds (parsley, Oregano, basil); shell digital scale; bamboo cutting board; kitchen utensils (whisk, spatula, spoon); oil/vinegar bottle; salt & pepper shakers; branded Moleskine recipe journal; and an apron.

So what are you waiting for? Leave your answer to the question in a comment. Oh, and don't forget to read the official rules, below.

Official Rules:
  • Contest open to US residents 18 years of age or older only.
  • Winner will be chosen at random from all entries received.
  • The odds of winning are dependent on the number of entries
  • Entries must be received by midnight, April 26th, 2011. 
  • Winner will be notified by email. Please provide a valid e-mail address; if you'd prefer not to leave a comment, you may e-mail your entry to us at
  • All Top Chef is not affiliated with Mission Control Media or the Syfy network in any way.

Don't forget, a new episode of Marcel's Quantum Kitchen airs tonight!

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Monday, April 18, 2011

Recap Roundup: Top Chef Masters 3 Episode 2

Jordan Baker on obviousness: "Sue is happy to have Duck a l’Orange because she made it as a child. She’s playing for the Louisiana SPCA. We are hearing way too much from Sue after not even getting her name aloud in the episode last week. She’s clearly going home."

Monkeys as Critics on spill the beans: "James tells Suvir his veal was shoe leather. Suvir says he was run over by divas in the kitchen, but he won’t name names. Name names! Come on, Suvir, stop the goody-goody crap and tattle!"

Eater on the critics: "By the way, WHERE IS MY BOY OSELAND? Way too much Kelis, not enough Oseland. MMmmkay? Who is Restaurant Girl? Wasn’t she the editor of yearbook club last week? She’s way in over her head and sometimes makes Curt Stone look like a Chef."

AV Club on the Quickfire: "I believe it was Hugh who suggested that “it’s just pointless criticism,” and it doesn’t matter if he’s right or wrong; All that matters is that we got to see the chefs clearly not caring what Kelis thought of their food. Whether you consider it a sign of a collective superiority complex, or simply a natural response to a silly reality show conceit, it showed the chefs seeming decidedly human. They made terrible jokes (some involving milkshakes), they got pissed off at the judging, and John won for his Vietnamese Chicken meatball — an effective and entertaining quickfire, if not necessarily a particularly complicated or interesting task."

Reality TV Calendar on the Elimination Challenge: "Back to the 60’s. There are 11 numbered cloches on a table. There is a fondue pot with forks. Draw a fork. The fork holds a number. The number corresponds to a cloche. That’s your iconic dish from the 60’s. I’m still waiting for the nasty twist."

TWOP on the judging: "And the chef eliminated is... Sue. Apparently not finishing was worse than shoe leather mystery meat. On the upside, the show will make a donation to Sue's charity, the Louisiana SPCA. Sue says she's going to take away a lot of good memories and experience. She predicts a woman will win this year."

Grub Street on eating 60s style: "The poorly conceived Elimination Challenge involves classic dishes from the sixties, a time when Americans apparently subsisted only on trash foods like coq au vin and beef Wellington. Christina Hendricks from Mad Men shows up, looking lovely as always, because her acting on that show has apparently made her a culinary expert on the time period. Her husband, Geoffrey Arend, shows up, too, because we don’t know why. Curtis asks if she is a fan of a not-real 'sixties food resurgence' and it turns out she hates everything the chefs will be making. Good luck to all!"

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Sunday, April 17, 2011

All Top Chef Interview with Sue Zemanick

Top Chef Masters contestant, Sue Zemanick talks about her experience on the Bravo Show.

Click here to learn more about Gautreau's.

Click here for the podcast.

Thank you Chef Sue!

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Saturday, April 16, 2011

Top Recipe - Mary Sue Milliken's Deviled Eggs

Bravo's not giving us Top Recipe videos this season, but I thought you might be interested in seeing the winning recipe in print.

Japanese Style Poached Egg, Umeboshi & Mustard Miso Mayonnaise

Traditional Deviled Eggs:
10 hard-boiled, medium-sized eggs, peeled and cut in half lengthwise
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons crème fraiche
1-2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Piment d'Espelette or paprika, for serving

Modern Hot Springs Egg with Ume Porridge and Japanese Mustard Mayonnaise:
1 tablespoon Yuzu Kosho (Japanese condiment made from Yuzu zest and chile peppers)
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
3 cups Ume Ginger Dashi (see recipe below)
1 cup cooked sushi rice (leftover is fine)
4 slow-cooked eggs (see recipe below)
Garnish: julienned, toasted nori (seaweed), toasted sesame seeds

Ume Ginger Dashi:
3 1/2 cups water
1 4-inch piece dried konbu (kelp)
1 cup bonito flakes
4 large Umeboshi (Japanese pickled plums), pitted and roughly chopped
3 tablespoons roughly chopped mitsuba (Japanese herb) or substitute cilantro stems
1 1-inch piece ginger, grated and juice squeezed (about 1 teaspoon juice)
Soy sauce, to taste
Salt, to taste


Deviled Eggs:
1. Pack a pot with room temperature eggs, just enough water to cover and a few tablespoons salt (salt sets the whites if an egg cracks accidentally). Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer 6 1/2 to 7 minutes for medium eggs (8 to 8 1/2 minutes for large or extra large eggs), transfer immediately to ice water. When cool peel and slice in half lengthwise.

2. Remove yolks from eggs and reserve whites. Push egg yolks through a sieve into a mixing bowl. Gently combine with mayonnaise, crème fraiche, and mustard. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

3. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a star tip with egg yolk mixture. Pipe mixture into reserved egg whites, sprinkle with Piment d’Esplette and chill before serving.

Hot Springs Egg with Ume Porridge and Japanese Mustard Mayonnaise:
1. Mix Yuzu Kosho with mayonnaise and reserve.

2. Heat dashi with cooked sushi rice to create a porridge and adjust seasoning with salt and/or soy sauce.

3. Immediately transfer to 4 warm serving bowls and crack a Slow-Cooked Egg over the top of the porridge. Top each egg with a small dollop of Yuzu Kosho Mayonnaise and sprinkle with sesame seeds and nori. Enjoy immediately.

Slow Cooked Eggs:

1. Place an upside-down saucer in a small pot and fill it with boiling water. Place the eggs gently into the pot, just enough to fill one layer. Check the water temperature, looking for 145 degrees F.

2. Keep the eggs cooking on the lowest setting (or turn the burner on and off occasionally) for 50 minutes, keeping the temperature as close to 145 degrees F as possible. After at least 50 minutes of cooking (more time at 145 degrees won’t change the outcome), remove eggs from water and simply crack and eat! Alternatively, you can cool these eggs in ice water and then heat one at a time in warm water as needed.

1. Bring water to a boil then reduce to lowest possible heat and add konbu. After 5 minutes add bonito flakes and turn off heat. Let steep 5 minutes more, strain carefully through a cheesecloth or very fine sieve. Season broth with chopped Umeboshi, mitsuba or cilantro stems, ginger juice, soy sauce, and salt to taste.

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Friday, April 15, 2011

Thursday, April 14, 2011

ATC Love to Chef Sue Zemanick

Chef Sue Zemanick was so lovely and helpful to her fellow chefs in the kitchen, when the time came to get her own dishes ready to serve, she couldn't get all of the elements on the plate. The judges weren't impressed with what she did serve, and so her time on Top Chef Masters was sadly cut short.

The show will make a donation to her charity, the Louisiana SPCA, so all is not lost.

Chef Zemanick, we here at All Top Chef hope to see good things from you in the future!

This post is only for nice comments about Chef Zemanick and her dishes. If you have anything negative to say, please do so here.

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Congratulations, Chef Mary Sue Milliken!

Chef Mary Sue Milliken went from the bottom two in last week's Restaurant Wars episode straight to the top, winning the 60s recipe redux challenge with her very unusual Japanese-style take on deviled eggs. The judges raved about the flavors and the fact that she took a real chance with her dish.

Chef Milliken, you are possibly the most widely known chef in this competition, so your reputation is at stake - how far can you go?

This post is only for nice comments about Chef Milliken and her dishes. If you have anything negative to say, please do so here.

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Reactions to Top Chef Masters 3 Episode 2

First off this week, we play "Substitute the Chef" when John Rivera Sedlar is called away on an emergency and is replaced by the recently cut Hugh Acheson. Welcome back Hugh!

Curtis Stone gives the chefs their Quickfire Challenge - to create a meatball dish, using the meat of their choice, and a hand grinder. In 30 minutes. Judging is done by performer Kelis - she of the distracting nose ring and, apparently, milkshakes - who also happens to be a trained chef. While she seems to like most meatballs - and she is nitpicky - she really loves the Vietnamese chicken version prepared by the remaining John, John Currance, who wins $5K for his charity, Share Our Strength.

For the Elimination Challenge, the chefs are tasked with taking a classic 60s dish and transforming it into a modern appetizer for a cocktail party for 40, hosted by Mad Men's Christina Hendricks and her husband, Geoffrey Arends.

In an appropriate bit of kitsch, the chefs draw fondue forks to see who gets what dish.

George gets Chicken a la King
Sue gets Duck a l'Orange
Alex gets Bread Pudding
Floyd gets Ambrosia
Traci gets Beef Stroganoff
John gets Oysters Rockefeller
Naomi gets Grasshopper Pie
Mary Sue gets Deviled Eggs
Celina gets Coq au Vin
Suvir gets Veal Oscar
Hugh gets Beef Wellington

The chefs get 2.5 hours to prep in the Masters kitchen, and 1.5 more hours to finish their dishes in a cramped kitchen on-site. There's lots of pressure, little room to work, and most chefs help their competitors, mostly to get them out of the way so they can take over the precious little counter space and plate their own dishes. Sue and Suvir especially feel like refugees, with Suvir forced to cook his veal in the deep fryer, and Sue having no place at all to work.

The chefs present their dishes two at a time, and for the most part they get favorable comments. Except of course for Suvir, whose veal is shoe-leather tough, and Sue, who didn't get a chance to plate all of the elements of her dish. Mary Sue, on the other hand, got raves for her Japanese-style rendition of deviled eggs, and Floyd for his take on ambrosia, a dish unfamiliar to him.

In the end, Mary Sue is given the win (and $10K for her charity, Share Our Strength), and Sue is given the boot.

So what did you think about this episode? About the return of Hugh? Sue's departure? Please leave a comment.

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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Top Chef Masters 3 Episode 2 Previews

The remaining 11 chefs are in for a treat when two high-profile celebrities visit the Top Chef Masters kitchen. Pop Star and trained chef, Kelis, drops by to judge the Quickfire Challenge – will they be able to impress this dual talent? Then “Mad Men” actress, Christina Hendricks and her husband enlist the help of the masters to execute a special 60’s themed Elimination Challenge. While these chefs are always forward-thinking and innovative, will they be able to get it right when they must go retro in their cooking style? Find out tonight 4/13 @ 10/9c on BRAVO's Top Chef Masters 3.

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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Recap Roundup: Top Chef All-Stars Reunion AND Top Chef Masters 3 Episode 1

All-Stars Reunion

Jordan Baker on judges outtakes: "Eric Ripert talks about 'my breasts,' and Lorraine Bracco complains about an audio tech’s freezing hands on her 'nice big fat tits.' Bourdain cracks up. Padma tells Tom to shut up. Paula agrees to 'take mah fuckin’ knives and go.' 'Pack your fuckin’ knives,' John Besh corrects her. I bet they'd all been wanting to say that to her all episode."

Minxeats on sexy: "Speaking of attractions, Andy poses a viewer question to Gail: out of Fabio, Spike, and Angelo, who would she date? She reminds everyone that she's married, but she chooses Spike because she's known him the longest and because they have a "Canadian connection." That could sound like something dirty, maybe a reference to a sexual position, if not for the word "Canadian" in it."

MamaPop on bromance: "Does Fabio have a girlfriend? He won’t say, but he DOES have his hand on Blais’ knee the whole time."

Cliffieland on Antonia: "Loved her before. Didn't think I could love her more. Then she went and delivered a speech about how she hates kids menus and how she's made sure her kid eats what she eats, not some dumbed-down version of food. And then I believe I saw a supernatural glow around her head."
Masters Episode 1

TV Squad on similarities: "They were given a crappy selection of food: Pop corn, dragon fruit, cottage cheese, sardines, marshmallows -- WHOA, is this 'Chopped All-Stars'? Mystery boxes, weird ingredients, no time to think or cook? Okay, everything is a rip off of everything else, but this is pretty familiar territory. It might have been smarter if the 'Top Chef' producers saved this Quickfire for later in the run ... like six weeks away from last Sunday's finale of 'Chopped All-Stars'!"

Castles and Cooks on mysteries: "The boxes were mean, resulting in wretched sounding combinations like marshmallows and canned corned beef, chicken liver and popcorn, dragon fruit and sardines, cockles and Marmite, black licorice and peanut butter and cottage cheese and frog legs. It makes me wonder what other oddities were in the three boxes that no one picked."

AV Club on spoilers: "I’m always fascinated by the “This Season on…” previews that air after the first episode of a reality season. Do we really need to know everything that’s coming up? Do you ever make decisions based on seeing a particular challenge or moment that you just can’t wait to see? Maybe I’m just a spoilerphobe, but they do nothing for me."

Eater on grooming: "Then came Unibrow Atcheson. Any one who would go on national television with a unibrow needs to get a duane reade card and buy a beard trimmer. I’m allergic to caterpillars so I took a shower after this dude’s grill hit the screen."

Reality TV Calendar on harsh criticisms: "Judge Ruth says that the flavor is fine but the texture is loathesome. OMG. What a word to hear coming from a judge. Poor Suvir in the other room looks like he’s been run over. Suvir gets the win and an 'A for effort' because Chef Tio presented an empty plate."

TWOP on the challenge du jour: "It's restaurant wars! Celina acknowledges that this should be an easy challenge for these cooks, who each have at least one restaurant launch under their respective belts. But, she says, coordinating this many people's visions (and egos) is going to be the real challenge."

Jordan Baker on strategy: "The judges mosey over to Leela, where they’re left waiting at the host stand. Curtis asks about the strategy of seating everyone at once. He tells the other critics he would fire his maitre d’ if they did something like that."

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Monday, April 11, 2011

TC News and Information 4.11.11

So, what did you think of the new format and team of host and "critics" for Masters 3?

If you're among those wondering "Who the Hell is Curtis Stone?" Eater has a pretty thorough run-down of answers, and WWD has an insightful piece as well (Stone does not seem to be a Housewives fan - lol).

Bravo has blogs up from Ruth Reichl and James Oseland, both of whom vigorously disagree with the diners, who were allowed to select the winning TCM Restaurant Wars team. Bravo also continues its extended Judges' (ahem, not "Critics') Table videos, and in this week's clip, Oseland talks about how "weird" and "space-alien-like" he found poor Hugh Acheson's scallops.

Before you become too attached to Ruth Reichl as a Masters critic, read this TV Guide interview with Magical Elves producer Dan Cutforth. Ruth was not available to film all the episodes (kind of like we were teased that Anthony Bourdain would be on more All-Stars episodes than proved to be the case?). However, Cutforth says Gael Greene will be back for “a few” episodes, Gail Simmons for “a couple,” and Padma Lakshmi for “one.” Sadly, no mention of bringing back Jay Rayner.

Cutforth also talks about the difference between “critics” and “judges” and says: “We were actually really happy with the panel of critics we had assembled, but you always want to keep evolving and keep things moving... That said, we wanted to reflect the new reality of food criticism, which is that food blogs and online criticism are a huge part of the restaurant business now. So critics panel will also include people from sites like Grub Street and RestaurantGirl." Danyelle Freeman of the blog Restaurant Girl was, of course, among the critics for the first TCM3 episode. Grub Street (New York Magazine's food blog) fesses up that its own Alan Sytsma is also a guest judge this season.

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal has an interesting piece on Masters contestant Naomi Pomeroy, with more of her back story (plus a recipe for the former Mrs. Hebberoy's Potato and Green Garlic Soup).

Mary Sue Milliken turned down TC Masters repeatedly, accordingly to the Las Vegas Sun.

And here's an interesting interview with Masters contestant Sue Zemanick, of New Orleans' Gautreau, who says she prefers to stay out of the spotlight.

While Top Chef Masters contenders are competing on behalf of charities of their choice, other TC'ers are lending their names to causes as well, including All-Stars Richard Blais, Mike Isabella, Carla Hall, Antonia LoFaso, Jennifer Carroll, Angelo Sosa, Dale Levitski, Jamie Lauren, Dale Talde, Tre Wilcox, Casey Thompson, and Fabio Viviani, who have signed onto the Humane Society of the United States’ Protect Seals boycott of Canadian seafood in an effort to end Canada’s commercial seal slaughter.

And a host of New York chefs are joining in HRC's Marriage Equality Campaign, including Tom Collichio, with this video.

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Sunday, April 10, 2011

TC Video Sunday 4.10.11

In case you missed them, or want another taste, the All-Stars Reunion repeats at 11:00 a.m. Eastern today on Bravo, followed by a repeat of the Top Chef Masters Season 3 premiere at noon EDT.

Now that the All-Stars Season is over, Bravo has released some extended behind-the-scenes videos I found fascinating, starting with Behind the Scenes with the AD, which spotlights Team Hogan, who make a lot happen that we don’t usually get to see. (You can also find out what “8008” is code for.)

How Real Is Restaurant Wars has some great footage of the logistics behind this Season’s RW episode, including some face time for Season 3 competitor Sandee Birdsong, who is now part of the TC culinary production team. Yikes, one RW team’s oven caught on fire this season without it ever making it to air.

There’s also a great extended interview with Dale Talde and a tour of the All-Stars Top Chef house.

All-Star winner Richard Blais reveals his plans to open a “pig-centric hot dog charcuterie gastropub” in Atlanta and a small little pop-up restaurant in NYC on the Lower East Side, in this video interview from Cooking With Caitlin at the International Home + Housewares Show in Chicago.

And here’s a video of Richard’s sous-vide demo from the Home + Housewares Show via EatnListen.

You can also catch up with Stephanie Izard via NBC Chicago. Not only was she named one of Food + Wine’s 10 Best New Chefs last week, she has two cookbooks and a new restaurant in the works, and is a James Beard Finalist.

And if you're jonesing fror Spring, check out this video of Dale Levitski's new brunch at Sprout via ABC Chicago.

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Friday, April 8, 2011

All Top Chef Interview with Hugh Acheson

Top Chef Hugh Acheson talks to ATC about his experience on the bravo show.

Click here for the podcast.

Click here for Chef Hugh's website.

Click here for his blog.

Thank you Chef Hugh!

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Bravo Exit Interview - Hugh Acheson

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Thursday, April 7, 2011

ATC Love to Chef Hugh Acheson

How difficult must it have been for these twelve chefs to face Restaurant Wars right off the bat? Chef Hugh Acheson can tell you first hand - it's tough. He wasn't able to find smaller scallops for the appetizer he chose to make for the challenge, and cooking them to the proper temperature became problematic and led to his early dismissal from the show.

Chef Acheson, we didn't get to know you at all, but all of us at All Top Chef wish you much success.

This post is only for nice comments about Chef Acheson and his dishes. If you have anything negative to say, please do so here.

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Congratulations, Chef Alessandro Stratta

Chef Alex Stratta came out of the gate strong in this Masters competition, creating a fricasee dish that had the judges raving. And we wouldn't have expected any less from the "Italian Scallion," a former Iron Chef!

A cancer survivor himself, Chef Stratta is playing for the Milken Prostate Cancer Foundation. We're excited to see how far he'll go in this competition.

This post is only for nice comments about Chef Stratta and his dishes. If you have anything negative to say, please do so here.

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Reactions to Top Chef Masters 3 Episode 1

This season, Top Chef Masters takes on the regular Top Chef format, with all 12 cheftestants competing at the same time rather than in tournament fashion. The first episode starts with the chefs entering the Top Chef Masters kitchen, greeting each other like the old friends they mostly are. Once everyone is assembled, new host Curtis Stone appears to give them their first Quickfire Challenge.

The chefs must partner up with the chef next to them and choose from a selection of "Mystery Boxes" containing one ingredient. Using that one ingredient, and that of their partner, each chef must create a single dish within a 20 minute time limit. There ends up being some bizarre combinations of ingredients: sardines and dragon fruit; chicken livers and popcorn; marshmallows and canned corned beef; frogs legs and cottage cheese; peanut butter and licorice. Even though this is the Masters competition, it looks a bit like amateur hour with the chefs rushing around and more than one not getting all elements plated.

Judging the challenge are new critic Ruth Reichl and regular James Oseland. As they taste each pair of dishes, they declare a winner from each: Hugh, Mary Sue, Traci, Suvir, Floyd, and George. At the end, Traci des Jardins dish is declared the Quickfire winner, receiving immunity and $5000 for her charity.

Without further ado, we find that the Elimination Challenge is...Restaurant Wars! The chefs who won their Quickfire pairing are Team Red, while the remaining chefs are Team Blue (Celina, Naomi, Alessandro, John C, John R, and Sue). Team Red chooses the name Mosaic for their restaurant; Team Blue calls their place Leela.

After 45 minutes of shopping, 2 hours of prep, and 3 hours of cooking, the restaurants must serve 50 guests, including the judges. The kitchen at Mosaic works smoothly as a team, while Leela seems much more chaotic. The front of the house at Mosaic runs smoothly too, as guests are seated a few tables at a time, so as not to tax the kitchen. Meanwhile, at Leela, you guessed it - everyone is seated at once and the kitchen has a meltdown, especially since the seating charts are confusing.

The judges start out at Mosaic before moseying over to Leela. It's pretty clear that they prefer the former over the latter. However, their vote is not the only one that counts - the diners get to choose the winning restaurant.

As the diner's favorite, Team Blue is called out to Critics' Table first. Naomi's chocolate cake was a favorite dish, but Alessandro's fricasee appetizer wins the challenge. They get sent back to the "wine room" and are asked to bring out Mary Sue and Hugh, who made Mosaic's weakest dishes. Mary Sue's chocolate cupcake was deemed too safe, and a bit dry, but the bigger mistake was Hugh's, for his under-cooked and over-salted scallop dish.

Hugh is the first Master out of the competition.

So what did you think about the episode? the new format? Please tell us in the comments.

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Reactions to Top Chef All-Stars Reunion

Last night we had a double whammy of Top Chef - first the Season 8 reunion, then the premiere of Top Chef Masters 3. Let's start with the reunion, shall we?

One one side of the room, we have Andy Cohen, Padma, Tom, and Gail. And waaaaay on the other side of the room, we have the recheftestants. Why do they sit so far apart? How can they hear each other without shouting? I never could understand why they make the chefs stand so far away. Do they stink?

First we start with a montage of the winner, Richard Blais, who is still a bit stunned. He says that his wife is the only thing he's won up until that point. Awwww!  But then he tells us that the thing he remembers most from that evening is being in Padma's arms. Hmmm....

Andy calls him on his promise to give Mike some money, and Richard said that investing in Graffiato was a possibility. Mike says that it doesn't matter because they're friends forever now. Gag!

I'm not going to get into everything here, just some highlights:

A fan question to Gail as to whom she would date out of Fabio, Angelo, and Spike gets the answer Spike, because they have a "Canadian connection." Padma decides to go all lesbian and chooses Casey or Elia, or to "motorboat" Antonia.

Speaking of Antonia, we are treated to a montage of her exploits as the Black Hammer, getting cooking partners eliminated from both of her seasons, including Tiffany, Tiffani, Jamie, and Jen.

There's a montage of sour Jamie, who claims that she didn't watch the season because it was "too painful." ::::cue tiny violins:::: and one of "smoove talker" Fabio (who does have a girlfriend, in addition to a turtle, ladies!).

Another montage features Marcel going on a rant, but done up as a crappy Housewives-style auto-tuned "rap" song. Then there's a segment on the hot-n-heavy bromances between Blais and Fabio, and Mike and Angelo. Lots of kissing and nipple pinching going on there.

Finally, we have Elia ranting about how Tom Colicchio shouldn't be hawking Diet Coke or selling corn-fed beef in his Vegas steakhouse. I think she shot herself in the foot with her whining and probably lost a lot of respect, particularly from Tom. a nutshell (walnuts!) there it is. What did you think?

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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

TC News and Information 4.6.11 - Top Chef Masters Edition!

In case you missed this on our facebook page (or elsewhere), congratulations to TC Season 4 winner Stephanie Izard for being named one of Food & Wine's Best New Chefs of 2011! George Mendes, a competitor on Top Chef Masters 3, premiering tonight, also takes a spot among the magazine's 10 chefs earning this honor!

TC Season 1 winner Harold Dieterle picks up another win for his new restaurant Kin Shop, in Time-Out New York's Food and Drink 2011 Critic's Picks, in the quirkily named category of "Pretty Thai for a White Guy."

Okay, Steph and Harold may not be TC Masters contestants (yet), but they will always be masters in our Top Chef-lovin' hearts, right?

The New York Times weighs in with its take on the Top Chef Masters Season 3 premiere here.

On to more about the chefs who will be gracing the Bravo airwaves starting tonight at 11:00 p.m. Eastern (after the All-Stars Reunion Show at 10:00). spotlights Sue Zemanick, chef of Gautreau’s in New Orleans, along with New Orleans native John Currence, of City Grocery in Oxford, MS (do you remember Clay Bowen from TC Season 3, who worked for him?). Click through to read what judges Ruth Reichl and James Oseland have to say about Masters with a Southern flavor brought by a number of contestants this season.

Canadian-born Hugh Acheson has embraced the American South, with restaurants like Five & Ten in Athens, Georgia, and Empire State South in Atlanta, which Atlanta Magazine describes as "countrypolitan." The dude also has a blog. And tats. This piece suggests his strengths may be in under-promising and over-delivering.

Here's a great interview with contestant Mary Sue Milliken, long-time business partner of previous Master Susan Feniger, who talks more about their collaboration in this fascinating piece from the Huffington Post. Two Hot Tamales indeed!

Celina Tio, of Kansas City, may be one of the more well-known names among this TCM cast, thanks to her turn on Next Iron Chef. For descriptions of a couple of the dishes from her KC restaurant Julian that will make you salivate, click here and scroll down to read about her Crispy Pork Shoulder and House-Smoked Salmon.

Traci Des Jardins not only competed on Next Iron Chef, she faced off against Mario Batali on (real) Iron Chef - and beat him. She's kicking things up a notch with viewing parties at one of her SF restaurants, The Public House, to benefit La Cocina, the same charity she's competing for on TC Masters.

Alex Stratta will also be holding viewing parties at his namesake restaurant at the Wynn in Las Vegas, which features rustic Italian-American food. Plus, he'll appear at the upcoming Vegas Uncork'd

John Rivera Sedlar, of LA's Rivera and Playa, who specializes in modern Southwestern cuisine, recently went up against Morimoto in Battle Quail on Iron Chef. Eater can refresh your memory of his, er, interesting presentation techniques, including spelling out the word "Caution" and picturing a gas mask on some of his plates.

Find out more about Naomi Pomeroy, of Portland's Beast, and her love of heritage meats, here.

And here's a chat with Floyd Cardoz, of the recently closed Tabla, a proponent of New Indian cuisine.

Also bringing Indian flavors to the table is Suvir Saran, whose Manhattan restaurant Devi is the only Michelin-starred Indian restaurant in America, says AfterElton, and who owns an upstate NY farm called American Masala, according to this item.

Sounds to me like an interesting melting pot of contestants for TCM 3. Whether the show's challenges give them a chance to showcase what they can do with their chosen cuisines is another matter.

Will you be watching? Let us know in the comments. And stop back tomorrow to share your reactions to the All-Stars reunion and Masters premiere.

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Top Chef Masters Season 3 Premiere Previews

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Top Chef All-Stars Reunion Show Previews

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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Recap Roundup - Top Chef All-Stars Finale

Minxeats on Mike needing to win: "Mike says he has to win because he quit his job and missed his honeymoon. I have no idea what either of them have to do with winning or losing: he quit his job at Zaytinya in late 2010 to open his restaurant Graffiato, and he got married in August of 2009, long after Top Chef Las Vegas finished taping, and well before the All-Stars season was even a twinkle in Andy Cohen's eye."

Jordan Baker on Tom's kitchen visit: "Tom thru! It’s kind of the meanest Tom thru ever – he basically goes to each restaurant and tries to psych them out by reminding Mike he hasn’t been in the finale before and Richard that he blew up during his."

Grub Street on Mike's traits: "Richard rightly pointed out that Mike's strength and weakness are the same: confidence and swagger. Also, snarky jerk faces. But to be fair, he did seem to really pull out the leadership skills with almost no dickishness, unlike he has throughout his two seasons."

Fork in the Road on restaurant hopping: "Then all of the judges swap restaurants, and for a brief, horrible second it looks like we'll be treated to all of this interminable sweating and analysis all over again, but fortunately we get an extended montage instead, with Richard rushing to fix his lumpy foie ice cream.">

Monkeys as Critics on Mike: "Mike tells Richard that if Richard wins he’ll feel like bleep. Gee, that’s a nice sentiment. Just when I was thinking, well, Mike’s not all bad he has to go and convince me that, well, actually, he is."

My Monkey Could Do That on the winning: "But there is only one winner, and that winner is Richard! WOO! Everyone comes to mob him, but some people come to comfort Mike. Whatever! Mike lost! He’s so happy. Mike says 'I feel like I beat him, but I didn’t get the prize.' Shut up Mike. Richard calls his wife in confessional, and she can’t believe it, and it’s so cute."

David Dust on Carla: "if Carla Hall doesn't get her own show, then the people in charge of The Teevee need a swift kick in the Hootie Hoos. I would watch the hell outta anything she was on - especially if the show also included Carla's adorable husband."

Max the Girl on stealth techniques: "The best part of Blais’s group is Spike, totally creeping in the background, serving as spy. 'Spike is very crafty,' says Blais. (In fact, Spike couldn’t be less crafty if he were wearing a sign around his neck that read: 'Number One Spy.')"

Check out the Creative Loafing Top Chef 8 Finale Extravaganza Podcast (now with video)!

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Monday, April 4, 2011

Meet the Masters - Alessandro Stratta

Chef Alessandro Stratta is the owner and Executive Chef at two award-winning namesake restaurants, ALEX and Stratta, both located in the Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas. Chef Stratta comes from a long line of restaurateurs. After several years of working in hotel kitchens, he decided to pursue his dreams by enrolling in the prestigious California Culinary Academy. During this time he worked in one of San Francisco’s finest hotels, the Stanford Court Hotel, where he perfected his skills in the art of baking and pastry. He graduated with high honors was selected to work under Chef Alain Ducasse as a member of the staff opening the Louis XV at the Hotel de Paris in Monaco. After cooking two years abroad in Monaco, Ducasse sent him to work under Daniel Boulud at New York's famous Le Cirque restaurant. After moving up quickly in Boulud’s kitchen, Stratta was presented with the opportunity to assume his first executive chef position. At the young age of 24, he was chosen to head Mary Elaine’s, a gourmet restaurant at the new world class Phoenician Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona. Under his leadership, he established Mary Elaine’s as one of the premiere dining destinations in the Southwest and in 1992, the James Beard Foundation named the restaurant a "Top Dining Destination” and Stratta as America’s top hotel chef. Stratta currently showcases his talents at Wynn Las Vegas as executive chef of his two restaurants: ALEX, featuring French cuisine, and Stratta, an Italian-American restaurant. ALEX has been awarded two stars in the 2008 Las Vegas Michelin Guide and is one of only 14 restaurants in North America to receive this distinction. In 2005, ALEX was selected as one of the “Best New Restaurants in America” by Esquire magazine and in 2006, 2007 and 2008 it was recognized by AAA as a Five- Diamond restaurant and by Mobil as a Five-Star restaurant, one of only three in Las Vegas.

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