Friday, August 31, 2012

Bravo Exit Interview - Art Smith

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Thursday, August 30, 2012

All Top Chef Interview with Art Smith

Top Chef Masters contestant, Art Smith, talks about his experience on the show.

Thank you Chef Art!

A highlight:

I tell you Lorena Garcia and I - the love has not stopped.  We are planning the ultimate pop-up in the ultimate location as we speak...

ATC:  Are you serious?!?!?

AS:  Just put your thinking cap on and think about what would be the highly visible location in the next few days...

ATC:  The Democratic National Convention????

AS:  I didn't hear you....

ATC:  It can't be a secret, please tell us a little more....

AS:  Lorena and I are like sisters...  You know she is Venezuelan like my husband Jesus.  We want to bring Common Threads to Venezuela...

So many of the other chefs are so...

ATC:  So serious?

AS:  So serious.  I mean I think it's important to be serious about your food, but if you aren't having fun, then you need to get into another business..And Lorena and I just laughed and had so much fun.

ATC:  Okay.. so you and Lorena... pop-up...

AS:  Yes, we are working on a very public pop-up and then we will be working on several others.  Please watch out on twitter.   We are very excited...

Click here for the full interview.

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ATC Love to Chef Art Smith

This time around, Chef Art Smith was half the man he was in his original season of Top Chef Masters - size-wise. He's still a great chef with a great big heart. Unfortunately, that wasn't enough to get him any further in this competition. He made a chicken dish with cashews that just wasn't Thai-inspired enough for his critics, who thought maybe he stayed a bit too much in his comfort zone.

Chef Smith did end up winning 10K for his charity, and that's certainly nothing to sneeze at. We know he'll continue cooking from the heart and will achieve great things in his career. Maybe Lady Gaga will even let him make her another birthday cake.

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Congratulations, Chef Chris Cosentino!

Chef Chris Cosentino has been pretty consistently hot during this competition, so it's no surprise that he picks up the Elimination Challenge win this week for his spin on a Thai larb salad using aged raw beef. While not Thai-spicy, and not that impressive to the owner of Lotus of Siam, the critics loved it, and that's what counts, right?

Only five chefs left in this competition. Who else thinks it's Chris' to lose?

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Top Chef Masters 4.6 Recap

Last week we had Holly Madison. This week, it's the marginally classier Dita Von Teese, most famous for being Marilyn Manson's ex. Oh, and she's a burlesque dancer. (Why is it sexy to do "burlesque" but "stripping" is trashy?) Anyhoo, the challenge was to use 30 minutes to make a sexy dish from a table full of foods with alleged aphrodisiac qualities like oysters and foie gras.

If Curtis' new wife watched the episode, he may have gotten himself in a little trouble. He was a little too susceptible to Von Teese's teasing and turned beet red more than once during the tasting portion of the Quickfire challenge.

Takashi thinks sweet and slimy textures are sexy in the mouth, and that's exactly what he produces for Von Teese. She agrees wholeheartedly (slimy? really?) and gives him the win, which equals immunity and more cash. And who doesn't like more cash? Especially in Vegas.

Exit Von Teese. Enter Thai food. The Elimination Challenge will celebrate the flavors of Thailand in a one-sided version of Restaurant Wars. You know, without the War part. The six chefs will create one restaurant, both kitchen and front of the house, and are each responsible for one dish. But first, they head to the acclaimed Lotus of Siam to nosh and get a feel for the food of Thailand. This is especially important for Lorena, who feels a little shaky, what with being from Venezuela and all. Like they don't use coconut milk, chiles, and cilantro up the wazoo, too.

After shopping, the chefs have 4 hours to cook and set up the restaurant; thankfully they aren't responsible for decorating. Patricia somehow manages to take over the place, possibly because she lived in Thailand for two years. While she's being bossy, she declares that she's not sure of either Art's or Lorena's ability to cook on the line, so she assigns them front of the house duty. Kerry she makes expedite. They don't argue with her, although Lorena says she's fine with cooking on the line. She and Patricia have an altercation at one point about using too many burners on the stove, but unfortunately, there are no fisticuffs.

Come on. You wanted to see a girl fight too.

When the time for serving comes, Lorena's and Chris' appetizers go out first, followed by two courses of mains. Kerry's and Patricia's dishes are supposed to go out simultaneously, but Kerry's taking a bit too long with his, causing Patricia to have to refire her duck breast. The result of that, of course, is severe undercooking.

While her duck breast is a bit flabby and chewy, and Lorena's soup is buried in too many garnishes, Art's too-safe and somewhat bland cashew-crusted chicken is the loser of the night and gets him sent home. Chris, on the other hand, narrowly beats out Kerry for the top spot and increases his charitable donation.

Next week: Sugar Ray Leonard, and chefs in the ring!

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

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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Learn it Live with Top Cheftestants!

Learn It Live is offering a series of online cooking courses with former Top Cheftestants Sam Talbot, Casey Thompson, Dave Martin, Fabio Viviani, Andrea Beaman, and Nikki Cascone. Sessions start on  September 4th, which is just around the corner! For more information, including descriptions of the classes, check out

Normally $40 each, All Top Chef readers get a special 75% discount on any one class of their choosing. Simply send an email to, indicating which session you're interested in, and you'll receive a special code good for $30 off.

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Top Chef Masters 4.6 Previews

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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Recap Roundup - Top Chef Masters 4.5

A Just Recompense on the dangers of waiting until the last minute: "Patricia really steps in it. She’s making pho, and holds off on adding the broth until the last minute so the noodles won’t get mushy. Great idea, but she misses the last minute and is poised with her ladle over the bowl when Curtis calls time. So her Faux Pho Noodles with Rib Eye is really a bowl of uncooked pho noodles and a slice of raw beef, or, on the veg side, Mushroom. Since the chefs are in the Whine room, Curtis guesses that this is an incomplete dish. Obviously, it can’t be tasted, and just as obviously, it’s the worst dish. She’s horribly embarrassed; when they’re all together at judging, she explains, and offers them the broth to taste, and they love it."

Grub Street on how low can we go? "It doesn't get better, though, because we’re subjected to Art in a Speedo. He jumps into the pool while the others awkwardly stare on. There are slow-motion effects and porn-y music that make Baywatch look like high art. Meanwhile, people on Twitter are happy to see Holly on TV again. The combination of these two things is highly demoralizing."

Charm City Cakes' Mary Alice for the Baltimore Sun on boring: "Art is making a southern biscuit (shocking) with a turkey burger. He’s using garlic and onions despite Holly’s instructions. He insists that if you cook them down you can’t really tell.

I appreciate that this is Top Chef Masters and thus these guys do not need to prove themselves, but it is getting kind of boring watching them all make their specialities week in and week out. I would really like to see Takashi make a biscuit and Art do some sushi. Let’s mix it up, people!"

The Zagat Blog on pre-challenge relaxation: 'After a whirlwind shopping trip to Whole Foods, prepping and as many Lexus RX (say it three times fast) mentions as possible, the chefs unwind at Blue Ribbon Sushi. They all drink and bond exchanging war stories and comparing first jobs. Art's was at KFC, Cosentino's was a dishwasher at IHOP, and Kerry was a busboy at Bonanza. Yikes."

If you have a recap, let us know and we'll feature it here!

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Saturday, August 25, 2012

Top Recipe - Lorena Garcia's Bunuelos with Fresh Berry Compote, White Chocolate and Condensed Vanilla Sauce

Bunuelos with Fresh Berry Compote, White Chocolate and Condensed Vanilla Sauce


1 cup cake flour
3 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoon honey
1 lemon, zested
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 teaspoon salt

Berry Compote:
1 pint strawberries
1 pint blueberries
1 pint raspberries
1 lemon, juiced
3 tablespoons honey

White Chocolate and Condensed Vanilla Sauce:
1 bar white chocolate
1 can condensed milk
1/2 can evaporated milk
1 tablespoon vanilla
Powdered sugar, garnish

1. Combine all ingredients and fry at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for 3 to 4 minutes until golden brown.

Berry Compote:
1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and let sit for 20 minutes.
2. Blend and refrigerate.

White Chocolate and Condensed Vanilla Sauce:
1. Place all ingredients in a heavy saucepan, at mid-low heat, until everything is melted. Keep warm until ready to use.


1. Place the berry compote on the plate, a dollop of white chocolate sauce in the middle of plate.
2. Place the Bunuelo on top. Garnish with powdered sugar.

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Friday, August 24, 2012

Thursday, August 23, 2012

All Top Chef Interview with Thierry Rautureau

Top Chef Masters contestant Thierry Rautureau talks about his experience on the show.

A highlight:

ATC:  I have a question about the Quickfires:  When all of the plates are set on on the table and the judges go down the line and taste them all, doesn't the last plate have a disadvantage?

TR:  Well, I think it depends on who is judging.  When you are the last one you have a disadvantage because things get cold. things fall apart or don't look as good as they used to.  There is quite a time differential between the first plate and the last plate, so yes, there could be a disadvantage.

But on the other hand, the palate may be satiated after tasting eight or ten plates and you may be granted a little bit of leeway on strength of seasoning.  Also, the last plate leaves the strongest impression.  So being last could also be seen as an advantage.

Click here for the full interview.

Thank you Chef Thierry!

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ATC Love to Chef Thierry Rautureau

This week's Elimination Challenge involved making a canape-style brunch dish for a pool party hosted by Holly Madison. In concept, Thierry rose to the occasion with his croque madame sandwich, except that he omitted the necessary fried egg and burnt his toast. Great idea though.

Apparently, as with fashion, one week you're in, and the next, you're out. Thierry won last week's Elimination Challenge with partner Takashi, but this week he sent himself packing. We figured he'd last much longer this season than his last trip to Top Chef Masters, so we're sorry to see him go once again.

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Congratulations to Chef Lorena Garcia~

Chef Lorena Garcia chose to make crispy fritter-like bunuelos as her pool party brunch dish, and despite lots of worrying that the center might not cook all the way through, it was a good gamble. Everyone loved the texture and the flavor and the "crispity crunchity" bites were fine enough to get her the win this week.

Chef Lorena - we know you're far more than Taco Bell, and you're proving it to us each week. As one of only two female chefs left in the competition, we're expecting a lot more, and maybe even a win. Go Chef Garcia!

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Top Chef Masters 4.5 Recap

This week's duo of challenges once again seemed to have no connection to each other. First off, the Indigo Girls came around to judge the Quickfire. One of the girls is a vegetarian, while the other eats meat, so the challenge was to create carnivore- and vegetarian-friendly versions of the same dish. After being humbled by the caliber of food presented to them, the Girls chose Takashi's Japanese-style tofu dish as the winner.

The Indigo Girls exit stage left while A Girl Next Door enters - none other than one of Hugh Hefner's former bimbettes. Holly Madison, who somehow has achieved the title of "Miss Las Vegas," is having a pool party and she wants the Mastercheftestants to create canape-sized brunch dishes for 150 bikini-clad pals. Takashi finds it all to be "unberievable."

After shopping, the chefs have 2 hours to prep, and then an additional hour the next day to finish their dishes. Also at the pool party are the Critics, including James Oseland, who makes a prat of himself over the scantily-clad hunks, even getting challenged to a push-up contest by one of them.

The food comes out and Holly makes surprisingly intelligent comments about most of the dishes. Art's biscuit sliders, Kerry's crab and corn fritter, and Takashi's panna cotta are favorites, but top honors go to Lorena for her bunuelos, which are both crisp and tender. Thierry, Patricia, and Chris don't fare as well with their fare. Chris' dish is a bit too complicated for some of the rube palates in the place, and Patricia's pulled pork lacks..something. But Thierry's croque madame, with burnt toast, missing egg, and too-thick bechamel gets him kicked out of the competition.

While it's sad to see Thierry leave, it was even worse to see Art Smith frolicking in the pool wearing a bright green Speedo.

So what did you think? Please leave a comment!

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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Recap Roundup - Top Chef Masters 4.4

A Just Recompense on the B-52s: "Make a salad in eight minutes. Kate Pierson and Fred Schneider of the B-52s are the salad judges. Because… who knows why. They need the publicity and the price was right? They were hungry? Maybe because Kate once went to the longest salad bar in the world, and claims it was in Maine. I’ve never seen advertisements for the longest salad bar in the world, and I’d think that would be something they’d be touting. There’s also nothing on the Internets. I think she made that up."

Mary Alice of Charm City Cakes for the Baltimore Sun on not gonna happen: "The tribal council arrive, looking incredible in their traditional dress. Curtis thanks the council for inviting them onto their land. James Oseland says it's so beautiful he never wants to leave. He then asks Louise from the Council if she's single because he wants to marry her. She declines but points out the single lady at the table for James to focus his attention on."

Grub Street on adventures at the Grand Canyon: "Once they arrive, there’s a huge problem because they’re cooking on a scary platform above the Grand Canyon with a see-through floor and Takashi is terrified of heights. He can't even change a lightbulb! A couple of minutes later he’s fine, though (the producers probably drugged him, it’s cool). The teams start cooking their dishes and everyone is extremely honored to be there, but they’re also having so much fun. But there’s tension between Kerry and Clark — they’re not clicking, mainly because Clark thinks Kerry is a bad chef (he doesn’t say that obviously, but come on) and they’re not agreeing on the direction of the dish. 'I can't have a fist fight on the rim of the Grand Canyon,' says Clark. To which we say, why not?"

The Zagat Blog on pairing up: "They pick knives for their partners and ingredients and lo and behold all the BFFs get put together. Art and Lorena with quail and prickly pear; Takashi and Thierry with venison and banana yucca; Cosentino and Patricia Yeo with rabbit and squash - and then Kerry and Clark the only non-BFFs leftover and clearly lesser duo with beef and corn. Not looking good for Kerry and Clark - but they do have easy ingredients (and Clark thinks he has a secret advantage because his dad was involved in Indian education at the University of Arizona…). No comment."

If you're a recapper, drop us a line at!

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Saturday, August 18, 2012

Top Recipe - Thierry and Takahashi's Grilled Venison and Banana Yucca Cake with Braised Figs

Grilled Venison and Banana Yucca Cake with Braised Figs

1 pound 4 ounces venison loin

Spice Mix:
4 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons onion powder
2 tablespoons cumin
2 tablespoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper

Balsamic Red Berry Reduction Sauce:
2 cups balsamic vinegar
2 cups venison or veal stock
2 tablespoons red berries
2 tablespoons butter
Salt and pepper, to taste

Grilled Peach:
1 fresh peach, sliced into 8 pieces like an apple
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

Banana Yucca Cake:
3 Banana Yucca
6 slices bacon, rendered and sliced
4 egg yolks
2 tablespoons smoked chili powder
1 tablespoon paprika
Salt and pepper, to taste
White vinegar, as needed
4 tablespoons flour
1/2 onion, sliced
1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced
3 tablespoons canola oil
12 figs, cut in half
1 cup balsamic vinegar
5 tablespoons sugar
1 cup pine nuts
1 teaspoon chili
Canola oil, as needed

Spice Mix:
1. Mix all spices together, then rub on venison loin. Leave venison for at least 30 minutes, then grill whole loins on medium heat for 4 minutes, then 3 minutes on other side.
2. Remove from grill, then slice into 16 pieces.

Balsamic Red Berry Reduction Sauce:
1. Reduce balsamic vinegar to 1 cup, then add venison stock, and reduce to half.
2. Add red berries, simmer for 5 minutes, then add butter, salt, and pepper.

Grilled Peach:

1. Drizzle olive oil, salt, and pepper, and then grill peach on medium heat until you caramelized, about 3 minutes on either side, then set aside.

Banana Yucca Cake with Braised Figs:
1. Grill yucca until tender, split in half, remove seeds and peel.
2. Place bacon in the middle of the yucca.
3. Combine yolks, 1 tablespoon smoked chili powder, salt and pepper to taste, and 1 tablespoon white vinegar.
4. Roll the yucca and place in the egg mixture then place all yucca in a mix of flour, 1 tablespoon smoked chili powder, paprika, and salt and pepper. Place on a sheet pan and set aside.
5. In a hot sauce pan add onion and mushrooms with canola oil. Cook until onions are translucent and soft. Season to taste and add 1 tablespoon white vinegar.
6. In a sauté pan on medium heat place figs and balsamic vinegar, and sugar and cook until tender – set aside.
7. In a hot sauté pan place pinenuts and toss until golden brown, set half aside.
8. Take the other half and place it in grinder. Ground all of the pine nuts, chili, and fry in canola oil. Then take out of oil and place on a paper towel. Set aside.
9. Place the yucca in the frying oil and fry until golden brown. Then flip on the other side. Once golden brown place on a paper towel.
10. To serve, place the onion/mushroom marmalade on the plate, add the half figs on the side of it. Place the yucca atop of the onion and pine nut crackling atop – sprinkling the remaining pine nuts around the plate – serve warm.


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Friday, August 17, 2012

Thursday, August 16, 2012

All Top Chef Interview with Clark Frasier

Top Chef Masters contestant, Clark Frasier, talks about his experience on the show.

A highlight:

ATC: If you could go back, is there anything that you would do differently? 

 CF: Well of course, I mean, if I did everything the same, then I would be eliminated again. So I would change a few things. This one didn't work, so I would like to go back with plan B. 

Two things: First, I tend to prep too much. At the restaurant, we can never prep too much. I mean if someone says prep for twenty I will prep for fifty. That was something I didn't have to do. 

 The second thing is that although I believe that Kerry is a great guy and a great chef, it was obvious that we weren't clicking.

 Actually originally, we were supposed to have salmon, but we discovered that the Hualapai do not eat fish, so we got tenderloin which I think is every chef's least favorite protein. 

 So, we had to punt which is what a Top Chef should be able to do. If I could go back, I would have done something like a crisp corn cake to offset the softness of the tenderloin. 

 On Top Chef Masters, as you know, you only get one chance. At our restaurant, if guests say, "You know, this seems mushy..." you can switch the recipe the next day. You always have more than one chance.

Click here for the full interview.

Thank you Chef Frasier!

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ATC Love to Chef Clark Frasier

This week's challenge involved cooking with Native American ingredients at the gorgeously scenic Grand Canyon. Chef Frasier was teamed up with Chef Heffernan, and it seemed that they, out of the four teams, clicked the least. The judges found fault with Clark's corn dish, considering it a bland succotash and too similar in texture to Kerry's tenderloin, and for those reasons, he was asked to pack his knives. Clark then walked dramatically toward the edge of the Canyon. Hopefully, they let him hitch a ride home on the helicopters with the rest of the chefs.

Chef Frasier - you left us too soon, but at least you have the consolation of being back together with your partner Mark, who was eliminated last week.

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Congratulations, Chefs Thierry Rautureau and Takashi Yagihashi

This week's Elimination Challenge was a team challenge, and it was a darn good thing that Thierry and Takashi were already such good friends. They cooked together as if they had done it for years, and their dish of venison and fried banana yucca pleased the native Hualapai and the judges alike. Thierry especially was commended for using so well an ingredient he had never before encountered.

Congrats to two very fine chefs. We think they'll be around for several more weeks. At least.

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Top Chef Masters 4.4 Recap

Another disjointed set of challenges were presented this week. In the Quickfire, the chefs had eight whole minutes to prepare a splendid salad for vegetarians Fred Schneider and Kate Pierson of the B-52s. Make a salad for the B-52s without incorporating rock lobster in some way? Is that even possible? After tasting each of the eight mastercheftestants' dishes, it was concluded that Lorena's, with smoky grilled cauliflower, was the tastiest, and she got $5K for her charity.

For the Elimination Challenge, the chefs were taken on a trip to the Grand Canyon. Unlike my one visit to the Canyon, an 18-hour round-trip bus ordeal with a very loquacious Slavic driver named Jerry and only about two hours spent at the site itself, the lucky chefs got to travel by helicopter. Lucky, except for poor Takashi, who has a fear of heights. He hates them so much, he says he even has trouble changing the "right bulbs." Love him, and I felt his fear when it was time to walk on that crazy glass-bottomed bridge.

Once at the Canyon, the chefs, in sets of two, take ingredients indigenous to the area and to the native Hualapai tribe and prepare four family-style dishes for 20+ diners.

They're cooking outside, so of course there are problems with rain and keeping the fires lit, but for the most part, things go smoothly enough. Except the relationship between Kerry and Clark, which immediately spells doom for one of the members of this daring duo.

After going on for entirely too long a time about love and food and food and love, the other chefs manage to pry Art and Lorena away from the table of Hualapai diners and present their own dishes before they got too cold. Everyone seemed impressed, but the best dish of the evening belonged to the unlikely pair of Thierry and Takahashi, whose heavily accented English did not create a language barrier between them. Indeed, they're old friends and got along swimmingly...

...unlike Kerry and Clark, who ended up on the bottom with mouthy Art and Lorena. Lorena had immunity from the Quickfire, and the judges were quick to forgive Art his dried-out quail. Clark committed the sin of making a soft-textured corn dish that was likened to a "bland succotash" that didn't stand up to the dual sauces on Kerry's tenderloin. And for that, he was given the boot and reunited with his partner Mark, who suffered the same fate last week.

Next week: bimbo pool party with former Hefner galpal Holly Madison!

What did you think of this episode? Please leave a comment!

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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

End Childhood Hunger With Bryan Voltaggio

On September 13, 2012, former Top Cheftestant Chef Bryan Voltaggio of VOLT, Lunchbox, Family Meal, and Range will host a very special multi-course benefit dinner for Share Our Strength®, a national nonprofit dedicated to ending childhood hunger in the U.S.

Voltaggio will be joined by chefs, including his brother, Top Chef season 6 winner Michael Voltaggio, Chef at ink. in Los Angeles, CA and Matt Orlando, Chef de Cuisine of the world-renowned Copenhagen restaurant Noma, under founder Chef Rene Redzepi to prepare a multi-course meal with a cause: ending childhood hunger in America. The cocktail reception starts at 5 p.m. with dinner seating at 7 p.m.

Tickets are $750 per person, with opportunities in the Chef’s Kitchen available at $1250, and at Table 21 for $2000. Make reservations at 202-478-6528 or visit Guests will also have the opportunity to participate in auctions that include one-of-a-kind culinary, travel and lifestyle items.

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Recap Roundup - Top Chef Masters 4.3

A Just Recompense on different strokes: "Art, Chris, Theirry are the winning team: Funny how these random team things always end up with Art and Chris together. While they’re shopping, Chris remembers an ingredient and asks Thierry to keep track of time while he’s running to get it so they can do a toss if needed. However, the Chef in the Hat has a different idea: he gets a massage. Right there in the middle of Whole Foods. Yes, a masseuse has a station set up (the chair and the round padded ring you put your face in) and just gives him a little shoulder work. Chris is perplexed. Hey, some people are Type A, and some are Type M."

Mary Alice from Charm City Cakes for the Baltimore Sun on ha! "The chefs will be cooking for the usual critics and three former Top Chef Masters. Teams are divided by drawing knives. Curtis asks if anyone has cooked Teppanyaki before, no one says yes. Then he asks Takashi specifically. 'Why me?!?' Takashi declares. Good call, Chef. Hey Curtis, has anyone here had a blooming onion before? How about YOU?"

LA Weekly on Olympians: "So here we are with foodist figure skater Brian Boitano (and yes, we always have to say his full name) as he tastes about a dozen sashimi-style plates. Sticking with the sporty theme, he didn't just pick a winner -- he gave out bronze, silver and gold awards, dubbing Takashi Yagihashi's raw mackerel the best. Then they played the Japanese national anthem. No, just kidding, they didn't do that."

Grub Street on what is it with Art Smith and cake? "The final team is up, and their strategy “is not to cook Japanese,” which sounds like the worst idea ever. Art makes cheese-grits cakes which fall apart because Honey Bear apparently cannot make any kind of cake to save his life. But he redeems himself with his fanciful stories and pouring Jack Daniels on the griddle to make some fire, which is the Benihana action everyone has been waiting for."

The Zagat Blog on it's not easy being Green: "None of the chefs have ever done teppanyaki before (obvi) so naturally everyone's nervous. They're split into three teams of three. The green team - Mark, Kerry and Lorena - goes first. Mark makes scallops and bok choy and went too simple. Everyone's horrified by the way he grills the bok choy - Moonen just wanted to grab it, throw liquid on it and season it. Kerry does a Korean take with shrimp with eggplant herb salad and gochujang. The shrimp is sadly overcooked. Lorena Garcia (big fan of Waxman's apparently) speaks in the third person and puts on a show making chicken fried rice. That's her thing, she's got spice - but unfortunately all three of them forgot to spice their food. They didn't taste it and it's all under-seasoned."

If you're a recapper and would like to be feature here, drop us a line at!

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Saturday, August 11, 2012

Top Recipe - Art Smith's Griddled Shrimp, Cheese Grits Cakes and Swamp Greens Salad

Griddled Shrimp, Cheese Grits Cakes and Swamp Greens Salad

12 large shrimp, peeled
1/2 cup chopped herbs (thyme, oregano, and basil)

2 tablespoons olive oil

Pinch cayenne

Pinch chili powder

Pinch garlic powder

1 tablespoon Old Bay

Cheese Grits
1 cup yellow grits, fine ground

2 cups water
1 cup milk

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Pinch of salt and pepper

1/2 cup jalapeno cheese, grated

1 large green tomato, grilled

1 large shallot, grilled

4 cloves garlic, charred

1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup Greek yogurt

1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar

Green Onion Mayo:
1/4 cup olive oil

4 egg yolks

1 lemon, juiced

Salt and pepper, to taste

2 tablespoons green onion

1. Toss shrimp in herbs and seasoning and marinate overnight.
2. Grill shrimp for 5-6 minutes.

Cheese Grits:
1. Place water, milk, and butter in sauce pan.
2. Whisk in grits and cook on low heat for 25-30 minutes.
3. Add cheese and salt and pepper. Stir well and pour into shallow cooking sheet pan with sides and refrigerate.
4. Cut into circles and grill. Brown on both sides.

1. Grill green tomatoes shallots, and garlic.
2. Place in blender, and drizzle in olive oil. Add Greek yogurt and white balsamic vinegar.

Green Onion Mayo:
1. Place egg yolks in blender, add onions and blend at low speed. Slowly add olive oil and lemon juice.
Season with salt and pepper

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Friday, August 10, 2012

Thursday, August 9, 2012

All Top Chef Interview with Mark Gaier

Top Chef Masters contestant, Mark Gaier, talks about his experience on the show.

ATC:  This is Laura Kluvo with all Top Chef and I'm on the phone with Master Chef Mark Gaier,
Hi Mark!'

MG:  Hi Laura, How are you?

ATC:  Congratulations on making the cast of Top Chef Masters!

MG:  It was really exciting when they approached us.  Honestly, at first I was a little reticent.  I'm not a big fan of reality television.  I wasn't sure if I wanted to do it.  There was a lot of persuasion from Clark and other people.  I was very excited once I got there, albeit nervous, but if was a lot of fun.

ATC:  It has been fun for us to get to know both of you.

Does Clark ever let you forget that he outlasted you?

MG:  We don't really talk about it.  It doesn't really bother me, and we've been together, for so long, it felt like the family was still represented.  He is not really gloating over it.

Click here to continue.

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ATC Love to Chef Mark Gaier

This week's teppanyaki challenge proved to be on the difficult side for just about everyone involved, but mostly for Chef Mark Gaier, whose "zen" dish of scallops and bok choy got him eliminated. Not only was the dish perhaps too simple for the critics, it was also very underseasoned (a common sin on his team).

Chef Gaier, we feel like we barely saw what you can do in the kitchen and are very sorry to see you go. Here's to your partner, Clark, who will have to carry on in the competition without you and hopefully do you proud.

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Congratulations, Chef Art Smith!

This week's Elimination Challenge involved a culinary skill that none of the Masters had possessed to that point - cooking on a Japanese teppanyaki grill. Art's team, which included Chris and Thierry, chose to make non-Asian dishes and keep their distinct points of view. Art's corn cakes were probably the first ever cooked in that particular style, and coupled with his shrimp skewers, ended up as the critics' favorite dish.

Congrats, Chef Smith - you successfully survived last week's cake debacle and have lived to cook yet another week!

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Top Chef Masters 4.3 Recap

This week, the Quickfire Challenge was back, and for some chefs, it was more challenging than for others. The deal was to create a delicious dish in 20 minutes using one of several luscious protein choices. The catch - the chefs could use no heat. Everyone figured sushi master Takashi would take home the gold in this challenge, and they were right. Guest judge Brian Boitano chose Takashi's mackerel dish as his favorite of the nine.

Takashi shared with us that his daughter was once a figure skater, and his contact with Boitano would make her "big big jearous."

The Elimination Challenge continued a now-established Asian theme - the chefs were put into three teams with the help of the knife block and made to cook Benihana-style on a teppanyaki grill. If that new experience wasn't enough to throw the chefs off, they also had to cook for four former Top Chef Masters - Susan Feniger, Mary Sue Miliken, Rick Moonen, and Jonathan Waxman, along with Ruth, James, and new judge Francis Lam.

After shopping, the chefs convened for prep at the kitchens of Shibuya, at the MGM Grand. The green team of Mark, Kerry, and Lorena showed their stuff first, and each got dinged for their lack of seasoning. Kerry thought it might be rude to taste his food in front of the diners, but Mary Sue was adamant that it should have been done.

The Yellow Team of Takashi, Clark, and Patricia went next, followed by the White Team's Art, Chris, and Thierry. Both fared much better than Team Green, and Team White ended up on the very top. They eschewed the whole Asian thing and cooked to their own strengths, which for Art meant Southern food. His corn cakes and shrimp were tasty enough to get him the win.

Unfortunately for partner Clark, Chef Mark's too-simple dish of scallops and bok choy, sans salt, was deemed the weakest, and he was sent packing.

Next week: the B-52s. Or at least 2 of them.

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

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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

All Top Chef Interview with Chef Debbie Gold

Thank you, Chef Gold, for answering our questions!

Did you watch the previous seasons of Top Chef?
I have seen parts of the other seasons. Not in their entirety, as I am usually working. I do know what happens after every episode, as a cook, friend or family will be talking about what happened. So I get to keep up with what is happening without having to see it myself.

Did you do anything to prepare for the competition?
Going over some base recipes.

If you could go back, is there anything that you would do differently?
Hindsight is always 20/20. Plus having more time and no pressure lets you think through what was asked.

Did you watch the episode?
I begin to watch, then I begin to feel the stress that I felt while on the show and then I can’t watch anymore. However it is interesting to watch the judges talk before the chefs are brought out.

Tell us about your restaurant.
The American Restaurant was opened in 1974 and is owned by Hallmark Cards. The Restaurant has a wonderful pedigree. It was designed by Warren Plattner (who designed windows of the world). James Beard and Barbara Kafka were consultants on the menu when it first opened. These are just a few of the talented people involved in the creation of The American Restaurant. It is the only four star Forbes and four diamond restaurant in Kansas City. My food is about simplicity. Bring out the best of the individual ingredient.

When you arrived at the Top Chef kitchen, who did you feel would be your biggest competition?
You can’t really tell who will be the biggest competition. All the chefs are talented. It really depends on luck, talent, and ability to perform under the circumstances of each episode.

Have you remained in touch with any of the other chefs?
Absolutely! This was a great group of people. We got along very well. I was already friends with some of the chefs, before I was on the show. I have become fast friends with the others.

Have you participated in any other cooking competitions?
I competed on TCM Season 2. I competed on Ready, Set , Cook and also for various local fundraisers.

What do you like to do in your spare time?
I spend my time with my children. I love to travel and I collect old (and new) cook books and antique scales. I can spend hours and hours going through antique stores. I love art and the theater.

Chef, is there anything else you would like to say to your fans?
Thank you to all those that supported me on the show. It was great fun and I gave it my best.

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Previews for Top Chef Masters 4.3

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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Recap Roundup - Top Chef Masters 4.2

A Just Recompense on Debbie Gold's salad: "This is a lesson in poor adaptability; she wanted to make a green papaya salad but could find neither papaya nor mango so she used cabbage and unripe nectarines instead of reconceptualizing. She loves to grill lettuce for the acidity; she doesn’t want to serve a sweet salad as a starter. Kerry helps her char it, and she’s adamant that she wants it really charred; he isn’t playing tricks on her at all, he’s following her instructions. I’m dubious about the value of charred cabbage, even mild napa cabbage. The judges do not approve. James calls it one of the weirder things he’s ever eaten. The bride, however, likes it. Maybe she’s just really agreeable. Given how her last two attempts to get married turned out, she’s probably so glad she actually got the deed done, she’d be happy with anything."

Mary Alice from Charm City Cakes for the Baltimore Sun on name dropping: "Art relays the sweet story about his wedding to his husband Jesus and how they ran from Art's restaurant to the Lincoln Memorial for their ceremony. There's an adorable shot of the two of them in front of their wedding cake, which in the interest of full disclosure I must point out was baked and decorated by Charm City Cakes. There, I said it. Who's name dropping now?"

LA Weekly on the betrothed: "In walked Jay and Christine, a lovely betrothed couple who let it be known that they were getting married the next day, and that the crew was responsible for the entire wedding menu. Now, Top Chef has had their contestants cater large events with hundreds of people before, but usually that entails a few hors d'oeuvres and small plates. A well-catered wedding includes real entrees as part of several courses, and one big honkin' cake, so this was no easy task."

Grub Street on relationships: "Once they get to cooking, it’s business as usual, except no one needs a skin graft this week. Art and Chris jump right back into the role of bickering couple, turning prep time into a therapy session. “Communicate, don't give me crap!” Chris pleads. (Do these two have a secret past we should know about?) The lovers’ quarrel ends in time for Art to tell the bride-to-be that (OMG but not really) her cake is going to be a variation of the one he JUST MADE for Lady Gaga’s 25th birthday. Kerry gets a chance to boast that Tom Colicchio was his best man, and Mark talks about wanting to marry Clark after 25 years together moments before Clark has a freak-out because someone moved some lettuce or something and Mark has to deal with it. Ah, love."

The Zagat Blog on weddings: "A fun part of this episode was getting to hear about the chefs' weddings. Chris Cosentino did all the food at his own wedding and his bride had to pull him out of the kitchen with his blue-spiked hair (fun fact: blue hair looks totally normal in black and white photos). Art and his Venezuelan husband (like Lorena Garcia, those Pisces just connect) ran (in full running gear) from his restaurant Art and Soul to the steps of the Washington Monument and got married there. Fedora's wedding cake had five tiers with a bridge to Croque-en-Bouche, his wife's favorite. Tom Colicchio was Kerry Heffernan's best man and caterer. Ah - so now we know why he's on the show.... "

If you're a recapper, please let us know, so we can feature your recap here on All Top Chef!

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Saturday, August 4, 2012

Top Recipe - Patricia Yeo's Pickled Mackerel with Young Coconut and Chiles

Pickled Mackerel with Young Coconut and Chiles

2 small mackerels, filet
Flesh of three young coconuts, julienne
1/4 cup dill, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup Vietnamese mint, chopped
1/4 cup basil, chopped
2 tablespoons Fresno chilies, finely diced
Yuzu lime juice, to taste
2 tablespoons ginger, finely diced
4 Thai chilies

Coconut Water Gelee:
1 gallon coconut
6 sheets gelatin

Brining Liquid:
2 large onions, roughly chopped
3 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons black peppercorn
2 habanero peppers, halved
2 cups rice vinegar
2 cups water
1/2 cup salt

Cilantro Lime Muddle:
1 cup cilantro, chopped
2 cloves garlic
3 Thai chilies
1/4 cup fish sauce
2 limes, juiced
1 tablespoon granulated sugar

Rice Crisps:
1 cup sushi rice, cooked
Oil, for frying
Salt and pepper, to taste

1. Rinse the mackerel and lay it flat in a deep dish. Cover with brining liquid and keep submerged for 3 hours. Remove, pat dry.
2. With a very sharp knife remove skin and cut fish into large dice (1/4- inch dice).
Reserve and chill.
3. In large bowl add fish, julienne coconut, herbs, chilies, and ginger. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Taste, add yuzu and more seasoning to taste.
5. Place large tablespoon in serving dish, top with gelee, cilantro muddle, and rice crisps. Serve very cold.

Coconut Water Gelee:
1. Bring coconut water to boil, reduce by 3/4.
2. Add gelatin, stir until it melts and chill until it sets, finely chop and reserve.

Brining Liquid:
1. Bring everything to boil and simmer for half an hour until the brining liquid is well flavored. Chill and pour over fish.

Cilantro Lime Muddle:
1. Put all ingredients in a blender and blend until pureed. Reserve.

Rice Crisps:
1. Fry rice until light brown, the color of hay. Season and cool before use.


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Friday, August 3, 2012

Thursday, August 2, 2012

ATC Love to Chef Debbie Gold

This wasn't Chef Debbie Gold's first trip to the rodeo, and unfortunately her stay on this season of Top Chef Masters still didn't allow her to show us her stuff. Her problems started at the grocery store, which didn't carry either the green papaya or mango that she needed for her salad, so she improvised. The judges unfortunately found it a bit weird, and Chef Gold found herself on the way home.

So sorry to see you go, Chef Debbie - maybe the third time will be the charm? :)

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Congratulations, Chef Patricia Yeo!

The Wedding Challenge is often the most difficult challenge of any season of Top Chef, and this one was no exception. Each of the remaining chefs had to create a dish for either the cocktail reception or the dinner, and Chef Yeo made a Southeast-Asian inspired ceviche of pickled mackerel with young coconut that wowed the judges. So much so, they gave her another $10K for her charity.

Great work, Chef!

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Top Chef Masters 4.2 Recap

This week, the Mastercheftestants managed to avoid competing in a Quickfire and were instead thrust directly into the Elimination.Challenge. Jay and Christine encountered many problems with planning their wedding, from the death of the maid of honor to venues cancelling. So they turned to the Masters to make their big day perfect - in only 24 hours.

The chefs are required to serve passed hors d'oeuvres at a cocktail reception, then go on to a multi-course dinner followed by cake. Art Smith volunteered to make the cake after name-dropping all of the many celebrities he's baked for, including Lady Gaga and Oprah. (yawn) He makes a pineapple upside-down cake, which seems really ill-advised, since the tops are uneven and how do you balance layers on that? And of course the cake slipped and slid and despite being patched together like Humpty Dumpty, still earned Art a spot in the bottom three.

But first - the top. The adorable Takahashi prepared "pork berry" sliders on steamed buns and earned raves from guests and judges. Chris Cosentino once again showed off his immense talent by making a pork adobo that even the picky Filipino family members found "pretty damn good." But the win went to Patricia Yeo, who served a ceramic spoon chock full of pickled mackerel ceviche with young coconut.

Ok, back to the bottom. Besides Art, Mark Gaier didn't do so well with his dish of raw salmon. It wasn't supposed to be raw, but the judges somehow ended up with sashimi (the bride and groom had perfectly-cooked fish). And Debbie Gold made a weird salad of grilled napa cabbage when she couldn't find the ingredients for her original idea - a more traditional Southeast Asian green papaya salad. It seemed to be a real toss-up between the three, but in the end, Debbie was asked to pack her knives and go.

So what did you think about the wedding and its various successes and near-fiascos? Please tell us in the comments.

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Wednesday, August 1, 2012