Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Top Chef Masters Season Five Competitors Announced!

There will be a Top Chef Masters season 5 and the competitors have been announced:

David Burke (David Burke Townhouse, NYC)
Douglas Keane (formerly of Cyrus, Healdsburg, CA)
Sue Zemanick (Gautreau's, New Orleans)
Richard Sandoval (Richard Sandoval Restaurants)
Bryan Voltaggio (Volt, Frederick, MD)
Franklin Becker (Abe & Arthur's, NYC)
Lynn Crawford (Ruby Watchco, Toronto, Canada)
Odette Fada (formerly of San Domenico, NYC)
Neal Fraser (formerly of Grace, Los Angeles)
Jennifer Jasinski (Bistro Vendôme, Denver, CO)
Jenn Louis (Lincoln Restaurant, Portland, OR)
Herbert Wilson (Sushi Samba, Las Vegas)
Sang Yoon (Father's Office, Los Angeles)

Bryan Voltaggio! Hmm...might actually have to watch this season!

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Friday, May 10, 2013

Top Chef New Orleans!

Bravo has confirmed that season 11 of Top Chef will be filmed in New Orleans! So...another season of sweaty, humid torture for the cheftestants.

Will you be watching?

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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Friday, March 29, 2013

Top Chef Pig Roast

Several former Top Cheftestants are participating in an event for Share Our Strength No Kid Hungry. Nyesha Arrington's Pig Roast will be held on April 28th, 2013, at Wilshire Restaurant, 2454 Wilshire Blvd in Santa Monica, CA from 1-4pm.

Guest chefs will include Ilan Hall, CJ Jacobsen, Alex Reznik, Marcel Vigneron, and Brooke Williamson from Top Chef and Danielle Keene from Top Chef Just Desserts.

Tickets are $55 and can be purchased here.

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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Padma Lakshmi Talk Show

This was in the mailbox this morning. I'm assuming Padma is on Anderson Cooper's show tomorrow.

" Come be part of the audience for a “Talk Show” with a Top Chef star Padma Lakshmi on Friday, March 15th. Please email us In your email please include you full name, phone number, and number of tickets desired. Please write “Top Chef” in the subject line.

"The show tapes in New York, and you must be 18 or older to attend."

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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Recap Roundup - Top Chef Seattle Finale Part Two

A Just Recompense on like the Super Bowl, but not: "Now we find out: each round will be voted immediately, and the first chef to win three rounds will win Top Chef. Sort of like the Super Bowl. For each round, first chef to win three votes wins the round. Which opens up all sorts of possibilities for manipulating the results to stretch things out and add suspense. It also cuts down on the discussion of the food, which Tom acknowledges in his blog. Sure they’d want to cut down on the descriptions of the food, since we’re viewers who can’t taste it and thus rely on the judges’ comments; they wouldn’t want to make it too easy for us. TC, Viewer Challenge Edition."

Minxeats on sous: "Each of the finalists has three hand-picked sous chefs waiting for them. Brooke has chosen Team California--CJ, Stefan, Kuniko--for whatever reason. Maybe to save Bravo airfare? Kristen, on the other hand, has chosen the sharpest knives in the box, namely the last three contestants to be eliminated from the competition--Mustache, Sheldon, and Lizzie."

Grub Street actually amused me a little this week: "Kristen and Brooke are both sweating while cooking their red snappler, a kind of fish. Brooke is pairing it with a 'pork cheek.' Between that and her pig-ear salad, I think Brooke would be a good person to know if you’re stranded on a desert island where the only thing to eat is a bag of pigs’ heads. Me, I would look at a bag of pigs’ heads and say, 'Nothing to eat here,' but Brooke would be like, 'I can make 30 entrees out of this one head, you idiot,' and I’d say, 'Well, excuse me for not knowing how to make a meal out of a dumb pig’s head,' and she’d be like, 'What’s wrong with knowing how to cook a pig’s cheek?' and I’d be like, 'Actually, I think it’s cool that you know all that stuff about food — in fact, I watched you on Top Chef,' and she’d say, 'I figured as much because don’t you remember how we were both on the Top Chef Cruise, which sunk, which is why we’re on this desert island in the first place?'"

Grantland says what we've all been thinking: "How else to explain the near-disastrous decision-making on display? Just a week after I praised the veteran food competition for always considering contestants 'solely on the strength of their cooking,' the producers chucked their winning format in the garbage like so many burnt pig ears. In its place we were served something both unwanted and unexpected: an overheated, painfully dulled version of Iron Chef. Instead of excitement, it was hard not to feel sorry for Kristen Kish and Brooke Williamson, the two totally deserving, totally shellshocked finalists, as they were pitted against each other in a garish kumite that treated both their talents and the audience's comprehension the way a Vitamix treats an overripe tomato. Instead of cooking the 'meal of their lives,' the two gifted chefs were forced to cook as if their lives depended on it, racing breathlessly to push out 68 plates (!) of each course, and then stand, sweating like salted eggplants, while it was judged on a nuance-free up and down vote, separated by time and context from what came before or after. It was loud and it was dumb. Kristen won, but we all lost."

Eater on baby mama? " I'm not sure how Brooke and Kristen worked out the sous chefs, but Stefan is on Brooke's team. He calls to Kristen. 'I chose light blue.' 'For what?' 'The baby's bedroom!' 'Shut up.' She seems genuinely uncomfortable with that joke. Maybe you took it too far, Stefan? I know I did. Sometimes, what people hate even more than being objectified is joke-objectified. What if she does want a baby with you, Stefan? Now your joke is mean. But who doesn't want a baby with you."

Mary Alice from Charm City Cakes for the Baltimore Sun on formatting: "The entire episode was done in Iron Chef style 'live' from a Kitchen Stadium-esque set with a hooting and hollering audience. This episode was also edited in a frenetic, choppy way that left me edgy and confused. The challenges and dishes were not clearly introduced, so much so that I was pretty sure at one point that I had missed the first 30 minutes of the show."

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Friday, March 1, 2013

All Top Chef Interview with Kristen Kish

Top Chef Seattle Champion, Kristen Kish, talks about her experience on the show.

A highlight:  

ATC:  I felt like last night's episode went by very quickly.  Did you watch?

KK:  Yes.  I felt like there were a lot of details that were not shown on the program, like how we chose our sous chefs and how we developed our recipes...all of the work that comes before the cooking - but it is only an hour show...

ATC:  Yes, that is one of my questions, were ALL of the season 10 chefs brought back for you to choose from?

KK:  No, I think there were maybe eight or ten...  after the last challenge at Craft, we chose our sous chefs.

ATC:  Playground style?

KK:  We flipped a coin and I chose Lizzie and Sheldon and later we found out we could choose one more, and that's when I picked Josh.

ATC:  Were you surprised to learn that you had to cook for 150 people?

KK:  Not completely.  We had to send in a food order ahead of time, so we had an idea...

Click here for the full interview.

Thank you Kristen!

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All Top Chef Interview with Brooke Williamson

Top Chef Seattle finalist, Brooke Williamson talks about her experience on the show.

A highlight:  

ATC:  Do you think it was harder to fight your way through all of the challenges, or to fight back in Last Chance Kitchen?

BW:  That's a good questions.  They are both hard.  Last Chance Kitchen is more predictable.  You know it is 30 minutes.  You know Tom is your judge and you know you have to beat one chef.  It's do or die.

Click here for the full interview.

Thank you Chef Brooke.

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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Chef Kristen Kish is Top Chef!

After being crowned Top Chef, Chef Kish thanked Tom Colicchio for Last Chance Kitchen, and there's little wonder why. In the past, top contenders have been sent home for being the leaders in Restaurant Wars. This time, however, Kristen was able to fight her way back into the finale and claim the Top Chef win. Chef Kish was deemed a favorite to take the top prize after only a couple of episodes, and her determination to win never faltered. To battle back after her controversial elimination was quite a feat and proves that Chef Kish is truly Top Chef.

Congratulations Chef Kish on a hard fought win!

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Reactions to Top Chef Seattle Finale Part Two

It looked like Top Chef became Iron Chef when the two finalists, Brooke and Kristen, went head-to-head in a flashy kitchen studio with a live audience. The cheftestants were competing to win the best three courses out of a possible five in order to be crowned Top Chef.

For the first course, Kristen served chicken liver mousse while Brooke went with a crispy pig ear and three-minute egg. The judges gave Kristen the win. The second course was a scallop battle and this time Brooke's hard-seared scallop won out over Kristen's citrus cured mollusk.

With the score tied, Brooke tried to show that she could cook chicken on the bone with vadouvan chicken wings. Kristen's bone marrow and celery root puree won the round however. Course number four was a red snapper battle. Brooke paired her snapper with pork cheek while Kristen went with a simpler preparation using leeks and uni. Kristen's clean, straight-forward approach gave her the third win and the title of Top Chef.

What did you think of last night's finale? Leave your comments below.

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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Recap Roundup - Top Chef Seattle Finale Part 1

A Just Recompense on Project Runway: "Some will disagree, as Top Chef has stolen the concept of 'home visits' from Project Runway (which probably means the Elves merely transplanted their own idea). Problem is: what makes the PR home visits work is Tim Gunn. Top Chef has no Tim Gunn (remember one of the first things Tom said back in Season 1: 'I’m not a mentor, I’m a judge'). What they do have are two finalists with lovely families, and I suppose the producers just couldn’t resist the opportunity to show that off. Not to mention get a trip to Hawaii."

Minxeats on cranky: "Soon enough time is up and Tom is in the kitchen to expedite. And he's a real cranky bossypants in that position. He makes the chefs as nervous as if this were the first time they had ever worked the line, and both Sheldon and Kristen DO work the line at their current jobs. In between fits of crank, Tom tastes all of the dishes."

Eater on welcome back: "I have never been as nervous watching Top Chef as I was last night, while Sheldon and Brooke waited to see who'd come through the double doors. Maybe it's my innate sense of fairness, maybe it's because I've developed this strong emotional attachment to Chef Kish, maybe I realize that the $125,000 prize money could be part of our dowery, but I would have flipped out at this show had Kristen not rolled through. I would have walked away and left Eater without its final two recaps. And God forbid a blog doesn't post about a TV show; the whole system would shut down. But Kristen did not disappoint. She's back, and Brooke, Sheldon, and Kristen make for one of the best final threes I can recall."

Grub Street on where's the product placement? "The three chefs marvel that they’re cooking in craft’s kitchen, but it looks like every other kitchen to me: I see ovens, sinks, and shiny counters. Interestingly, I don’t see any Canada Dry Ginger Ale, Healthy Choice Meals, or Reynolds Wrap. Are we sure this place is legit?"

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Friday, February 22, 2013

All Top Chef Interview with Sheldon Simeon

Chef Sheldon Simeon talks to ATC about his experience on the show.  

A highlight:

ATC:  It looks like you have become a celebrity in Hawaii.  How does that feel?

SS:  Everyone has been so nice.  It is definitely weird to be recognized in the street and to be posing for photographs.  But I was the same way.  I mean I have been a fan of the show and I was giddy whenever I saw any of the chefs. I enjoy meeting new people and it has really been fun.

ATC:  Were you surprised to see Kristen as the winner of Last Chance Kitchen?

SS:  No.  Not at all.  Everyone knew that she was a frontrunner.  It was a surprise when she was eliminated.  I had a feeling she would be back.

Click here for the full interview.

Click here to learn more about Star Noodle.

Click here to vote for Fan Favorite.

Thank you Chef Sheldon!

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Thursday, February 21, 2013

ATC Love to Chef Sheldon Simeon

After a long season in which Sheldon's talent grew more and more apparent with each passing episode, it was a bit of a letdown to see him change his own personal culinary gears and produce a rather lackluster dinner. Not that it wasn't delicious, but there was a bit too much "new Sheldon" and not enough "old Sheldon" in his meal, particularly in his quail with pine nut sauce. The raw fennel in his dessert didn't help things, either.

Sheldon's dream is to have his own restaurant some day, and judging by the mini-celebrity he's seemed to achieved in his native Hawaii, that dream will probably be coming true in the near future.

Great work this season, Chef! We know we'll be hearing more about you in the years to come.

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Reactions to Top Chef Seattle Finale Part 1

Sheldon and Brooke parted ways in Alaska only to be reunited six and a half months later in Los Angeles for the Top Chef Seattle finale. They head to Tom Colicchio's Craft and find out who they'll be competing against - the winner of Last Chance Kitchen. Not surprisingly, it's Kristen, who beat the pants off the last several auf'd cheftestants, as we see in a rather long-winded montage segment.

The challenge the final three face is to cook a three course meal during service at Craft. They are each responsible for an app, an entree, and a dessert. Brooke starts out slow, changing her mind about her courses every few minutes. Sheldon seems pretty confident in his first two courses. He promises to show a bit of "new Sheldon" because he believes he should demonstrate his growth through the competition. Kristen realizes she over-thinks things and vows to keep it simple, stupid.

In the end, Brooke had issues during service but her three courses were probably the strongest. Kristen's meal had its problems, but ultimately was good enough to get her a spot in the finale. And the new Sheldon wasn't as appreciated as much as the old Sheldon. His quail dish was tasty and well cooked, but didn't show off the flavors he'd made himself famous for over the past several weeks. And his dismissal means that Top Chef will finally get a second female winner.

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

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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Recap Roundup - Top Chef Seattle Episode 15

A Just Recompense on transport, Top Chef-style: "Continuing the theme of weird transportation (the Elves wanted to go with Planes, Trains & Automobiles, but it was already taken, so we got 'Cruise Ships, Helicopters, and Dogsleds' instead. And if that doesn’t have quite the same ring, well, that’s television; it isn’t like they had the $30 mil budget of the movie), they travel by dogsled to an Iditarod training camp. Brooke isn’t afraid of dogsleds. Either that, or the Xanax is still in effect."

Minxeats on scumbag behavior: "Roy [Choi], a Food & Wine best new chef, rose to fame with his fleet of Kogi Korean BBQ Food trucks. He tells the chefs that before he got into cooking full time, he was a real 'scumbag.' But one day, while being a scumbag, doing scumbag things like hanging out on the couch, watching Emeril Live! he happened to catch an episode in which Emeril cooks short ribs. It was a lightbulb moment, and right after that, Choi looked into culinary schools."

Mary Alice of Charm City Cakes for the Baltimore Sun recaps the episode, but you'll have to click the link and see for yourself because the Sun wants to charge me for reading the article.

Grub Street on looking back: "But! Before that happens, the shit really hits the fan for Josh: His wife calls to inform him — via speakerphone, for the sake of the cameras — that her water broke and she's about to have their baby. Josh is moderately broken up. His kid will always know that dad missed the birth of his child because he was on a reality cooking competition. But chin up, kid: Going through life knowing that your dad chose Top Chef over your birth won't be half as embarrassing as knowing your dad thought an ironic waxed mustache was a smart look in 2013."

Eater on doggies: "The chefs disembark from the helicopter and are surrounded by so many dogs. Oh my God I love pups. Are they cooking for the dogs? I would very much like to see a Quickfire judged by 100 barking dogs. I think Josh would have a good chance of winning. Or do the chefs have to use the dogs as a main ingredient? I do not support kennel-to-table cooking, no matter how local it may be in Alaska."

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Friday, February 15, 2013

All Top Chef Interview with Joshua Valentine

Top Chef Seattle contestant, Josh Valentine talks about his experience on the show.

A highlight:

ATC:  Tell us about FT33.

JV:  Right now I am the pastry chef.  We have been open for about 5 months.  We were just named the "Best New Restaurant of 2012" in Dallas.

ATC:  What does "FT33" mean?

JV:  It's kind of a restaurant term - "Fire Table 33."  We are an open-kitchen restaurant. Thirty-three is kind of the chef's table.  It is elevated and the diners can see into the kitchen and watch as everything is plated.

ATC:  What is the most popular pastry item on the menu?

JV:  The menu changes regularly because we are very seasonal.  Right now we have a peanut butter panna cotta dessert - that one is very popular.  Everyone likes chocolate and peanut butter.

Probably one of the more interesting desserts right now is the Olive Oil Financier with Juniper Ganache and Apple Celery Sorbet and Compressed Celery with Gin.

ATC:  Yum.

Click here for the full interview.

Click here to learn more about Josh's restaurant, FT33 in Dallas.

Thank you Chef Josh!

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Thursday, February 14, 2013

ATC Love to Chef Joshua Valentine

It feels odd saying goodbye to a Valentine on Valentine's Day, but sadly we must bid farewell to Chef Joshua Valentine. When asked to make a dish that reflected the moment he knew he wanted to become a chef, Chef Valentine remembered reading an article about foie gras when he was 16 years old. He prepared foie gras three ways, but one of those preparations, a torchon, proved to be his downfall. He overreached, trying to make a dish that would normally takes days to prepare in only two and a half hours.

While it was sad to see him go so close to the finale, at least he could get home to his wife and newborn daughter Georgia.

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Congratulations Chef Brooke Williamson!

Well, this is getting rather redundant! Chef Williamson has won again! Not only did she win the Quickfire Challenge, but she also won the Elimination Challenge. Using her mother as the inspiration for why she wanted to become a chef, she made braised chicken and quail. Equally homey and complex, Chef Williamson illustrated both the roots of her culinary interest and the level of expertise she has developed along the way.

Heading into the finale, she has certainly shown that she has what it takes to win. Only Sheldon and the winner of Last Chance Kitchen stand in her way.

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Reactions to Top Chef Seattle Episode 15

With only three cheftestants left, the episode had to be padded somehow. The final three were driven to the Eagle Crest ski area, flown by helicopter into the mountains, and then put on dog sleds to finally reach a dog sledding camp. Padma and Tom were already there and told the chefs that they had 30 minutes to make a dish for the dog sled athletes using whatever was in the camp. Brooke and Sheldon opt for halibut while Josh falls back on his favorite: breakfast. It came down to the two halibut dishes, but Brooke pulled out the win because of her panzanella salad.

After returning to sea level, the chefs were treated to a lunch prepared by Emeril and hot LA chef, Roy Choi. During the lunch, everyone talked about the moment they knew they wanted to become chefs. This led to the Elimination Challenge: make a dish that reflects this pivotal moment. They had two and a half hours to prep and cook for the judges, along with the Governor and First Lady of Alaska at the Governor's mansion. With Sam Choi as his inspiration, Sheldon cooked snapper. Josh used foie gras as inspiration and prepared it three ways. Brooke used her mother's cooking as inspiration and made braised chicken and quail.

Brooke's dish took the win, but Sheldon's broth was too salty and Josh's torchon did not live up to expectations. It was a close call, but Josh was sent home to be with his wife and newborn daughter.

What did you think of last night's episode? Leave your comments below.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Recap Roundup - Top Chef Seattle Episode 14

A Just Recompense on the bonus prize: "To no one’s surprise, Brooke wins. Seems the locals all agreed, as well. “I’m dying to go to Costa Rica,” she says. I don’t know if that’s because a producer is poking her with a sharp stick to get her to be enthusiastic about this product-placement prize, or if she’s always wanted to learn more about Fair Trade coffee – or if she’s just cold."

Minxeats on missing old friends: "This week the cheftestants - Mustache, Sheldon, Brooke, and Lizzie - start the show off by lamenting the loss of dear, sweet, kind, thumb-like Stefan. They miss his good heart, or something like that. Surely he paid them to compliment him after he left."

Eater on culinary destinations: "The chefs are at Tracy's King Crab Shack, 'Juneau's #1 culinary destination.' They are also literally steps from where their cruise ship docked, which is a funny place for a city's most famous restaurant to be. It's as if people land in Juneau to grab something from Tracy's and then immediately leave to eat it, like if the Burger King in the Port Authority was New York's #1 culinary destination, which it is if you are addicted to huffing."

Mary Alice from Charm City Cakes for the Baltimore Sun on babies, but not Josh's: "Sheldon is up next, he’s prepared a green tea & chive sourdough with smoked salmon and pea soup. His dish has some problems. Sean Brock is disappointed how Sheldon actually served the salmon — ripping it up with tongs like it was pulled pork. 'It is almost disrespectful.' he said. Hugh thinks the soup reminded him more of baby food. 'But a good baby, a healthy baby, a well flavored baby.' and suddenly we’re all thinking of soup that is made from babies. Thanks, Hugh."

Foodie Gossip on home sweet home: "The foursome retreat to the Jorgenson House, a lovely bed and breakfast in Juneau. Imagine a cozy country home complete with fireplace and old timey furniture. They do the obligatory “walk around and talk about how nice things are” scene when in a moment hard to describe with words, Sheldon jumps out from a curtain and scares the bejesus out of Brooke. She was genuinely scared, like literally curled up in a ball with tears coming out. Ah...priceless."

Grub Street still doesn't bother to do research or spell check: "Sheldon is smoking pine needles to flavor his asparagus. What kind of example is Sheldon setting? He’s essentially using a forest fire as an ingredient. This is the moment when Smokey the Bear throws a brick at his TV. Sheldon makes a miso out of the crab innards. Brooke goes crab-crazy, turning out crab butter with crab, and topping it off with crab salad and more crab. Josh decides to poach crab legs and make soucatosh(?), which pleases Sean Brock, a southern gentleman and suocautash(?) enthusiast who apparently hopped the wrong boxcar and wound up in Alaska."

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Thursday, February 7, 2013

ATC Love to Chef Lizzie Binder

Chef Lizzie hung in there for fourteen weeks, usually earning compliments on her dishes. This week, she got to cook fish, a protein that should be in her wheelhouse, especially since her late father taught her how to catch and clean her own. She chose a simple dish, citrus and beet glazed salmon served on home-made sourdough rolls. While her rolls were the best bread of the evening, the fish didn't have enough seasoning to stand out, and for that, she was sent home.

Good luck, Lizzie, in your career. We've enjoyed watching you and maybe we'll see you later in the competition, if you win LCK or are saved by the viewers.

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Congratulations, Chef Brooke Williamson!

Tom Colicchio wondered about Brooke's decision to poach her salmon to order in the Elimination Challenge this week, and his comments to that effect made her rethink her decision. It was too late to change things at that point in the game, but it didn't matter - her original idea was a great success. The judges loved her salmon and her broth, and the way the bread soaked it up.

Congrats, Chef Brooke, on your second consecutive Elimination Challenge win, and enjoy the trip to Costa Rica!

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Reactions to Top Chef Seattle Episode 14

This week, the chefs competed in lovely Juneau, Alaska, using fresh Alaskan seafood. First, they celebrated crab by using it in the Quickfire Challenge. Sheldon impressed guest judge Sean Brock with his miso soup and pine-smoked asparagus with crab, and got a nifty $5,000 prize to take home.

For the Elimination Challenge, the chefs had to use freshly-caught salmon and 31-year-old sourdough starter to feed 200 diners at a picnic-like event called the Gold Creek Salmon Bake. Rather than bake their salmon, three of the four cheftestants made soup, and Lizzie cooked her fish on the grill.

Brooke's dish of poached salmon with broth hit all the right notes with the judges, and they gave her the win and a trip to Costa Rica. The other three dishes had both high and low points, but they decided that Lizzie's salmon didn't have enough flavor to compete with her near-perfect sourdough roll. She had lots of experience with fishing as a child, but it wasn't enough to keep her in the competition.

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

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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

TC 11: Casting Call

Are you ready for your own Top Chef coat? NBC just announced nationwide casting call starting on February 11th.

Monday, February 11, 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM

Wednesday, February 20, 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM

Wednesday, February 20, 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
STK in The Cosmopolitan
Sunday, February 24, 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Girl & The Goat

Monday, February 25, 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM

Friday, March 1, 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
The Foundry on Melrose

For additional casting information and to download an application, visit

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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Recap Roundup - Top Chef Seattle Episode 13

Minxeatson ill-advised: "Brooke doesn't like boats. She doesn't explain exactly why. She says she has to get over it though because she fears passing her phobia on to her kid. But isn't that what parents are for? To make their kids neurotic? She indulges in a series of umbrella drinks with her compadres and keeps a box of Dramamine handy, just in case drinking on a boat is a bad idea. Ahem."

Eater on the non-foodie member of the lettuce family: "Sheldon is bummed because iceberg is so boring but I would counter that maybe Sheldon is boring and he should shut up. Iceberg lettuce is great. It's what gives Taco Bell soft tacos crunch and stops them from being entirely smooth, frictionless diarrhea igniters."

HitFix on Qsine: "The theme of the evening is wacky, it seems. They eat sushi lollipops and food in drawers. The drawer thing is not working for Stefan, as he has OCD and wants to move everything around. I'm just wondering if the food is any good, honestly. Putting sushi on a stick does not in any way make it better."

Grub Street on Curtis: "Okay, anyway, they walk into the ship’s kitchen (called 'the galley') where they see ... CURTIS STONE! Curtis Stone is one of my favorite people to look at and think about in the context of cooking shows. Needless to say, he looks like an Adonis, although I’m not crazy about his new short haircut — I miss the wind-swept chaos that used to define his personal grooming. Maybe the producers asked him to cut it because of its resemblance to deadly crashing waves? (Lizzie has no complaints and gushes over Curtis’s appearance.)"

Allie is Wired on Quickfire eats: "Padma and Curtis are enjoying some booze on deck. Stefan serves up his offering first. It goes over well. Sheldon gets a 'very nice' from Padma before Lizzie enters with her bacon infused creation. Josh also shows up with a bacon heavy bite. Curtis notes that Josh 'walks like a chef.' Not sure what that means. Brooke offers up a mouthful of scallop nibbly thing."

Entertainment Weekly on proteins: "Because Sheldon won the Quickfire, he'd get first pick at his proteins, and none of the other chefs could choose them. The other chefs joked that Sheldon should choose canned tuna and Spam and other undesirables. But instead of reaching for the emu meat and live sea cucumber, he went for the most standard proteins available: beef tenderloin and lobster."

A Just Recompense on surf and surf? "Brooke takes frog legs and mussels. This raises an interesting question: are amphibians surf, or turf? They’re usually treated like chicken. They breathe air. I call them turf. But she’s not sure. It’s different, at least. She’s stressed because her dish takes seven steps to plate. But she gets the Mussels and Frog Legs with Celery Root and Fennel Puree, Papadums, and Shallot Chutney done. Curtis is impressed with the inventiveness. Tom likes the flavors; frogs aren’t usually that earthy, but she made them earthy. The only problem is the greasy papadums."

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Saturday, February 2, 2013

Dining at Edward Lee’s 610 Magnolia, and a Sneak Peek at His New Restaurant

Kumomoto oysters with American sturgeon caviar, watercress,
leek, and champagne sabayon from 610 Magnolia

On a road trip from Cincinnati to Louisville, I finally got to taste the food at 610 Magnolia, Season 9 contestant Edward Lee’s flagship restaurant. Lee is about to open his second restaurant, Milkwood, at Actors Theater of Louisville. Check out this video interview from Louisville TV station WHAS with Chef Lee and Kevin Ashworth, who will head the Milkwood kitchen, for a glimpse at the new space and the “comfort food with an Asian twist” it will serve up.

Hungry for more? How about frog legs with fish sauce and bourbon brown butter, which Kevin demo's here.

The night I ate at 610, I was fortunate not only to enjoy a truly spectacular meal but also to meet Chefs Lee and Ashworth. These talented, thoughtful chefs were gracious enough to give me a few minutes of their time – even as they ran back and forth across the street between 610 and the restaurant’s Wine Studio, which reportedly was hosting a private event for Anthony Bourdain and Eric Ripert. You can find the full story of my evening here.

Sous-vide beef tongue with heirloom baby beets,
wild caperberries, mustard ice cream, and nigella seeds

One thing’s for certain, if I have a chance to taste the signature 610 BLT again at either restaurant, I’m going for it. The “L” in their version stands for liver, as in foie gras, which is combined with bacon ends and red wine to create the most devastatingly delicious paté I have ever eaten. Add some oven-dried tomatoes and aged gouda and sandwich between toasty bread and you have a definite winner! (Recipe here.)

610 BLT

Best of luck at Milkwood to Chef Ashworth and to Chef Lee, who is also soon to be a new father! Fittingly, the baby is due the week of the Kentucky Derby.

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Friday, February 1, 2013

All Top Chef Interview with Stefan Richter

Top Chef Seattle contestant, Stefan Richter talks about his experience on the show.

A highlight:

ATC: Going in to the competition, did you feel that you had an advantage?

SR: I think it was a disadvantage to be honest. You kind of dread what is going to happen. The waiting and the stew room, it is really harsh. You see two minutes of it, but it is actually five hours. What do we do? We drink and we bicker. It's very difficult. I knew that going in.

Click here for the rest of the interview.

Click here for Stefan's Website.

Click here to Save a Chef.

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Thursday, January 31, 2013

ATC Love to Chef Stefan Richter

Chef Richter wanted desperately to get to the finale as he had during his first run on Top Chef. Alas, he came up short of his dream thanks to some really overcooked pork skin. While guest judge Curtis Stone could appreciate this European approach to the protein, Tom and the other judges would have none of it. Also, his ravioli with eel and parsnip filling had too much parsnip and not enough of the critical surf ingredient. It seemed like Chef Richter did not come on quite as strongly this season as he had in the past, and therefore his early elimination was not a total surprise.

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Congratulations Chef Brooke Williamson!

Chef Williamson has show remarkable flexibility and tenaciousness throughout the competition. This time, she pulled out a win by stretching the boundaries of what surf and turf could be by using mussels and frogs legs. Not only was the dish executed well, but her plating earned her high marks, sticking with the spirit of the restaurant in which she was cooking. As she moves onto Juneau as one of the final four, Chef Williamson is well positioned to take home the top prize.

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Reactions to Top Chef Seattle Episode 13

It's north to Alaska for the cheftestants as the Final Five board the Celebrity cruise ship Infinity for a trip to the 49th state. Along for the ride is Top Chef Masters host Curtis Stone. He and Padma meet the chefs in the cruise ship kitchen where they introduce the Quickfire Challenge. This time, they must make a one-bite item showcasing the highlights of iceberg lettuce. They have 2 hours, but they must make enough for 200 guests. After everyone served their dishes on deck, Sheldon was named the winner for his complex lettuce wrap.

That evening, the chefs sample the inventive dishes at the ship's restaurant, Qsine. Then Padma and Curtis spoil the fun by announcing that, for the elimination challenge, they must provide the next night's dinner service, making their takes on the classic surf and turf. Since Sheldon won the Quickfire, he got first choice of proteins. He played it safe with filet mignon and lobster. Brooke, on the other hand, stretched the definition of surf and turf by choosing mussels and frogs legs. For her inventiveness, she got the win. Meanwhile, Stefan cooked the skin of his pork belly to a crunchy consistency, and buried his eel in parsnips for his ravioli filling. For these transgressions, he was not allowed to move forward.

What did you think of last night's episode? Leave your comments below.

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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Recap Roundup - Top Chef Seattle Episode 12

A Just Recompense on warming the fish: "Josie gives a mini-lecture about the dangers of touching fish while making sushi since it warms the temperature. I don’t know if that’s a real thing or not – maybe that’s what Katsuya was talking about when he warned them not to touch too much – but I don’t feel like being lectured by Josie about anything. That’s what happens, producers, when you keep someone on past their prime. You teed her up for us, so I’m gonna take the swing. She’s making New England clam chowder. Hey, that’s what she said, it’s inspired by clam chowder,with bacon and yuzu vinaigrette. Halibut, bacon, yuzu, what kind of clam chowder is this? 'I love sushi, I’ve gone so far as to have sushi parties where we served sushi on naked women.' Talk about warming the fish."

Minxeats on blotto: "The cheffy guests arrive and sit themselves at a long table in the back yard. Padma is already stoned out of her gourd. She calls Tom, 'Tommy,' and suggests that Emeril and Wolfie are a 'power couple,' just because one of them pulled the chair out for the other. The wine is flowing pretty freely through the whole dinner, as this is the Terlato wine challenge. The lucky winner of the fried chicken battle gets a year's worth of Terlato wines. That's 365 bottles, according to Padma. Maybe she can drink that much wine in a month year, but 12 bottles would probably be sufficient for me."

Grub Street on product placement: "The judges have said 'fried chicken' at least 200 times this episode, by the way. I wonder if Healthy Choice is offended? Or perhaps this is all a way of ramping up to the introduction of Healthy Choice Fried-Chicken-Flavored Yogurt with Real Bones in the Bottom?"

Hit Fix on bacon everywhere: "Snidely Josh doesn't know a lot about sushi, as he doesn't crave it the way he craves bacon. So, he's making sushi with bacon. Stefan thinks he would have his fingers cut off in Tokyo. But Stefan is having chef's block."

Eater on foreign languages: "Everyone is very confident in their fried chicken recipes, in a way that all Italians swear by their own family's meatballs. Josie says to Stefan, 'How do you say "kiss my ass" in German?" He tells her, and she repeats it. He says, 'You just said, "I'm going home next."' Josie, don't you know that anything you say in German comes true?"

Mary Alice from Charm City Cakes for the Baltimore Sun on chicken: "Jon admonishes Josie for pitching her dish as 'Southern Style' when it's served on a banana leaf. Jon says in the South she would have been run out of town for such behavior. Michelle Bernstein, who was guest judge the last time Josie was sent home, couldn't bring herself to continue eating Josie's chicken: 'I had to put it down. I just ... I can't.'"

Allie is Wired on bullshit: "They move on to Stefan who defends that he doesn’t have a degree in Fried Chicken 101 because he didn’t grow up in America. Tom immediately points out that Wolfgang grew up in Austria and doesn’t have a problem whipping up a batch. Stefan then jumps to the defense that he wanted to put a twist on the concept. Padma isn’t buying it and asks how Chicken Cordon Bleu is a twist. He shuts up at that point as Padma notes he is a 'such a bullshitter.'" Posted on

Friday, January 25, 2013

All Top Chef Interview with Josie Smith-Malave

Top Chef Seattle contestant, Josie Smith-Malave talks about her experience on the show.

A highlight:  

ATC:   What have you been doing since we saw you in season 2?

JSM:  I've been building an empire.  Right now we have a pop-up location in San Francisco.  I have teamed up with a music venue called Thee Parkside.    It's called Global Soul Corner, we have just extended our lease.

I have also teamed up with some people to do a popsicle business.  We have some really inventive popsicle flavors.  We are working out the details to expand.

I'm also working on a couple of cooking shows.

I have been traveling the world...eating...learning about other cultures, not just food.  I have really had the chance to grow as a person and really to hone my future.

ATC:  What is the most intriguing flavor of popsicle that you have invented?

JSM:  I call it the dirty chocolate cake.  It's like a fudgsicle with a hint of chiles and of course, bacon...

Click here for the full interview.

Click here to visit Josie's website.

Thank you Chef Josie!

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Thursday, January 24, 2013

ATC Love to Chef Josie Smith-Malave

This season, Chef Josie Smith-Malave was a controversial character, both among her fellow cheftestants and in the blogiverse. But she battled hard in this, her second try at the Top Chef title, even winning a Quickfire Challenge early on. Alas, the big win was not to be for Chef Josie, and she was sent home for improperly cooked - albeit flavorful - fried chicken, something she thought she had in the bag.

There's still Last Chance Kitchen and Save-a-Chef, so we may be seeing Chef Josie yet again this season!

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Congratulations, Chef Joshua Valentine!

It took twelve challenges and several failed attempts at pork dishes before Chef Joshua Valentine won an Elimination Challenge, but he won big this week, for his fried chicken dish wowed not only Padma and Tom, but other big chef guns like Emeril Lagasse, Wolfgang Puck, David Chang, Vinnie Dotolo, and John Shook.

Congrats, Chef Josh - you are one of the final five and are headed on a cruise to Alaska. Good luck and don't get seasick!

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Reactions to Top Chef Seattle Episode 12

This week's episode was much more palatable than last week's. Also less dramatic.

The Quickfire Challenge featured renowned sushi master Katsuya Ueshi, who required that the cheftestants make delicious sushi for him. Quite an undertaking, and not everyone turned out a pleasing dish. Josh used bacon in his sushi, which Katsuya found to be too greasy. Stefan, however, is an old hand at raw fish preparation and stole the show with his yellowtail and shiitakes. Unfortunately, there's no more immunity, so he had to settle for five grand in prize money instead.

Out went Katsuya and in came Tom Colicchio with Momofuku's David Chang. Tom has rented a house in Seattle and has invited a bunch of cronies to hang with him while he's being bored on Top Chef. He wants the cheftestants to cater a little dinner party for his guests and the main dish must be fried chicken.

Not everyone is familiar with classic American fried chicken, at least that's what Lizzie claims. Stefan also suggests that they don't eat fried chicken in Europe. The excuse worked for Lizzie, whose chicken dish got her into the top three, but failed for Stefan, who was on the bottom for his lame chicken cordon bleu. Brooke also failed miserably, as did Josie, who really thought she had this challenge in the bag. Instead, Josh made the best fried chicken of the bunch, inspired by his grandfather's paper-bag-floured bird. And finally, we see the end of Josie.

Unless she wins Last Chance Kitchen or Save-a-Chef. Hey - it can happen.

So what did you think about this episode? Fear for Brooke's cooking life? Please leave a comment.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Recap Roundup - Top Chef Seattle Episode 11

A Just Recompense on Josie: "Back in the Stew Room, Josie says something about being an easy target. Oh, don’t go looking for sympathy. Yes, you’re an easy target because you’ve shown grand incompetence throughout. You’re the reason I’m hoping Kuniko continues to hold on via Save-A-Chef. Now you’re the reason Kristen’s going to Last Chance Kitchen to run into the buzzsaw that is CJ. You’ve served raw turkey, you’ve been unable to keep up with live service twice, and now you’re unable to roast bones when that’s all you have to do. Lizzie got her bones roasted, what’s your excuse? Don’t you dare play the 'pity me' card. Look at Kristen: that’s how someone with class handles it."

Minxeats on Kristen's sins: "Sheldon's team goes back to stew, and Kristen and Josie are read the riot act over the bouillabaisse. Rather than throwing Josie under the bus for her slow-poke sauce-making, Kristen falls on her sword. It's her fault that someone else's dish tasted like shit, and also that she called two dishes something they weren't. TWO DISHES. That's practically grounds for beheading in Top Chefland. And rather than kicking off someone who has barely been hanging on for the run of the show, the judges send Kristen home. Stefan is verklempt, and he tells her he loves her."

Eater on Stefan and the judges: "He makes them all feel stupid and it is kind of amazing how offended they all are. I understand he did a bad thing here, and no one likes to be made to feel dumb by their server, but it seems to me that part of their shock is because these five judges, when they are in a restaurant, never get made to feel like anybody but somebody famous and important. I am almost impressed that Stefan had the gall to treat them exactly like how anybody dining out in New York feels often. Tom says that people go to restaurants for food and they return for hospitality. 'I don't know if I'd return to this restaurant.' Padma has maybe never been treated this way in her life and she loses her mind. 'He should go home for the service he gave me!' and she shrieks it like the way a spoiled medieval prince would demand a beggar child's hands be cut off for touching the prince's cape."

HitFix on bravery: "Oh my Lord, Sheldon is putting balut on his menu? If you're not familiar with them, these are fertilized duck embryos. There are beaks and feathers and, well, they're a little extreme for the American see-no-eyeballs, eat-no-beaks mentality. Fortunately, Sheldon is putting a modern twist on this. I'm assuming this means no baby bird beaks."

Grub Street on the undoing of Atelier Kwan: "Speaking of loathing: It turns out that Josie’s stock isn’t ready when Kristen expected it; the wheels are starting to fall off Atelier Kwan. Josie offers a bunch of mumbo jumbo about patience and layering broth and whatnot. I’ve heard enough from this delinquent debutante — I want to shake the screen: 'Josie! Just have shit done by the time you say it’ll be done!' Josie hasn’t even added the gelatin to the boullebase(?)! Kristen, barely keeping the top of her head attached, tells Josie to use cream and soy milk instead. I’m not sure what’s more of a turn-off: The fact that they were planning to use gelatin in their sauce, or the fact that they’re replacing it with soy milk. When did French cooking lose its way? Are they really putting pudding pops in their beef sauces these days?"

Allie is Wired on conspiracy? "Back at the digs, Josie smokes a cigarette with Stefan and Josh as she reveals Kristen wants to cook everything to order. She laughs smugly as she knows she is painfully slow. The boys also smile smugly knowing that Josie will be the death of Kristen’s vision."

Mary Alice from Charm City Cakes for the Baltimore Sun on hmmm: "Game day: Prep commences and the chefs really have their work cut out for them. Brooke will be taking on front of house for the girls' team, as she and her husband 'have opened four restaurants.' Which makes me wonder: All these chefs are constantly touting how many restaurants they've opened, but they never actually mention of any of them are still open."

Entertainment Weekly makes a good point: "osh made a more presentable version of it by using a normal unfertilized egg and putting duck confit and foie gras mousse inside of it. Tom said it didn't taste Filipino or remotely like balut, but it still tasted good. Didn't Kristen get reamed for making a beef Bourguignon that tasted good but didn't match the standard definition of Bourguignon? Didn't Gail 'expect' balut but get something different? Lines are being blurred. Maybe the judges were just so relieved not to be eating real balut."

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Friday, January 18, 2013

All Top Chef Interview with Kristen Kish

Top Chef Seattle contestant, Kristen Kish talks about her experience on the show.

A highlight:

ATC:  The viewers certainly saw that Josie was slow and you had to make concessions for her lack of expertise, but the judges didn't see any of that.

KK:  Right, and that's okay.  I mean that is part of my job, to communicate and to get my point of view across.  I just didn't want to stand up there and fight.  It would have been a losing battle anyway.

ATC:  You showed a lot of integrity.

KK:  I hope so.

ATC:  Knowing that you beat CJ in Last Chance Kitchen gives us all hope that we will see you again in the finale.

KK:  Thank you, I hope so too.

Click here for the full interview.

Click here to learn more about Stir.

Thank you Chef Kristen.

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Thursday, January 17, 2013

ATC Love to Chef Kristen Kish

Well, this was a bit of a bombshell. As we've learned from past Restaurant Wars, however, great chefs can often be taken out of the competition if they are the leaders of a losing restaurant. In this case, it looks like Chef Kish was undone by the complexity of her dishes and the numerous tasks she chose to take on herself. While many will blame Josie for her elimination and think that Josie should have been the one sent packing, Chef Kish took responsibility for the dishes that the judges were served as any good chef should.

Based on her previous wins, Chef Kish is obviously someone with considerable talent, and there is a good chance we may see her again before this competition is over.

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Congratulations Chef Sheldon Simeon!

Although Team Sheldon was down one man due to Chef Micah's elimination last week, this may have actually been an advantage for Chef Simeon. Only he could execute his Filipino dishes the way he wanted them to be, and necessity forced him to make most of them. Chef Simeon's concept for elevated Filipino food seems to be a great idea too long in coming.

With his cool demeanor among numerous forceful personalities, Chef Simeon has sometimes been overlooked. As we come down the stretch, however, his stock is rising and showing that he can be a contender in this competition.

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Reactions to Top Chef Seattle Episode 11

It's the boys against the girls for Restaurant Wars this year! With Chef Micah eliminated, the men are short staffed, but you know what they say about too many chefs in the kitchen.

The two teams had 48 hours to put a restaurant together. Team Kristen went with her concept of traditional French cuisine with a twist called Atelier Kwan. Team Sheldon followed his Filipino roots with Urbano. The restaurants were assembled at the Georgetown Ballroom. Without a proper kitchen, the chefs had to build their own kitchens in the courtyard. They had one day to buy supplies and prep. The next day, they opened a restaurant.

With Brooke's extensive experience, she was chosen to run the front of Atelier Kwan. For similar reasons, Stefan was running the front of Urbano. While Brooke was the model of hospitality, Stefan's cold, blunt nature shone through, sometimes not even explaining the dishes to the judges. In the kitchens, Sheldon and Joshua kept their cool and ran a smooth service, while Josie once again had time issues with her broth and Kristen became overwhelmed by trying to manage too much. In the end, it came down to good food and bad service at Urbano, good service but questionable food at Atelier Kwan.

At Judges' Table, Stefan was spared the ax because of Sheldon's exceptional food. Urbano won and Sheldon was given a Toyota Avalon. As for Atelier Kwan, the choice was between Josie's poor broth or Kristen's mismanagement of the dishes. Ultimately, Kristen had to take the fall for her concepts and execution.

What did you think of last night's episode? Leave your comments below.

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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Recap Roundup - Top Chef Seattle Episode 10

Minxeats on  Sheldon's Big Day: "The next day happens to be Sheldon's 30th birthday, and we find out that he's already cranked out three daughters. He's hoping to get his hands on one of those bonus 10K prizes that come with winning this challenge, because he's already got too many mouths to feed back in Hawaii, and that Spam shit is getting expensive. And he might need a new hat. But you know - birthday curse. Of course, Stefan celebrated his 40th birthday a few weeks back and he's still around. Even if he hasn't done squat as far as cooking winning dishes is concerned."

Grub Street on Josie: "The judges show up, hungry for concepts. Josie’s croquettes aren’t done yet! She’s struggling — you can tell because she’s laughing and making a spectacle of herself like she did at the berry farm. Brooke says it’s 'almost hard to watch.' Josie is not good at food-timing. Speaking of food, and time, and a couple of adorable croquettes, Danny Meyer and Tom reminisce about when they met 25 years ago."

Hit Fix on opening shots: "So, Dallas John is gone and that leaves the title of resident jerk to Stefan. I actually like Stefan in all his sexist crankiness (I ate at Stefan's at L.A. Farm and have to say the food was wonderful, so I'm biased). Of course, Stefan misses Dallas John. He was his morning friend! I like the idea that Stefan has friends assigned to certain times of day. Perhaps that's as long as he can stand someone."

Eater on eww: "The chefs scramble around markets as they brainstorm and shop for their restaurants. Sheldon is going to cook modern Filipino food inspired by his grandfather. I imagine somewhere Sheldon's grandfather is watching this episode and smiling, right up until Sheldon says, 'I had to change my underwear a few times.' The grandfather is no longer smiling. Sheldon is talking about being nervous, and I get that he's kidding, but 'a few times'? That is so specific. That means you filled your underwear up with waste, cleaned up, changed, and then repeated that like two more times. After the second time I would have gone to the hospital because I don't think it's your nerves, buddy."

A Just Recompense on collisions: "Josie runs across the kitchen and Josh tackles her. I think it was even an accident. 'If you want a hug, just ask,' he says; 'I was a professional football player, I can take a few hits.' If she weren’t a former professional football player, and if Josh weren’t a big guy, they’d both be on the floor, so I guess they’re even."

Mary Alice from Charm City Cakes for the Baltimore Sun on oops! "Brian Canlis, who judged an earlier episode this season, is complimenting Stefan’s broth when Stefan hits the blender’s go button a bit too soon, spraying Brian, his female companion, and everyone else within a 4 foot radius with hot liquid magma. 'Oh, s---!' Stefan exclaims. Brian laughs heartily, clearly having had enough drinks to not care that his cardigan and face are now drenched in Thai lobster bisque."

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Friday, January 11, 2013

All Top Chef Interview with Micah Fields

Top Chef Seattle contestant, Micah Fields, talks about his experience on the show.

A highlight:

ATC: Are you still working at The Standard in Los Angeles? 

 MF: Yes I am. 

 ATC: I have been there! Is it still yellow? 

 MF: Yes it is. 

 ATC: What is the most popular item on the menu? 

 MF: We actually just changed the dinner menu...we have a lamb rib...our ravioli changes on a daily basis...We also have a "burger of the week" that is very popular. I have been there for about two years, so that is a hundred different burgers. It's been popular and also very fun.

Click here for the full interview.

Click here to learn more about Micah's restaurant 24/7 at The Standard Hotel in Downtown L.A.

Click here to "Save a Chef."

Thank you Chef Micah.

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Thursday, January 10, 2013

ATC Love to Chef Micah Fields

Chef Micah Fields has been a strong performer throughout this competition, so it was a bit of a surprise that he was eliminated this week. His concept for Restaurant Wars was for a raw food restaurant, something he said was near and dear to his heart. However, Tom didn't feel that the dish he prepared - a raw fish and vegetable salad of sorts - felt like it was genuine.

So sorry you left your daughters and didn't come back with a win, Micah, but we're sure they're proud of you anyway.

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Congratulations, Chefs Sheldon Simeon and Kristen Kish!

This week's Elimination Challenge was a bit convoluted, as it was the precursor to Restaurant Wars, which will start in earnest next week. This challenge was merely to pick the chefs who had the strongest restaurant concepts and reward them (or punish them, as it might end up) with the chance to lead up a Restaurant Wars team. Oh, and they also got 10,000 smackeroos each.

Congratulations to Chefs Simeon and Kish for having the most interesting concepts and the best dishes of the day. We're looking forward to seeing what you will do in Restaurant Wars. May the best chef win!

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Reactions to Top Chef Seattle Episode 10

Is it me, or is this show getting unnecessarily more complicated every week?

First is the Quickfire, in which the cheftestants have fifteen minutes to make something tasty using fresh ginger. Wolfgang Puck is on hand to judge the dishes, which may also have included a bit of Canada Dry ginger ale in them. Brooke's caramel ginger squid impressed him the most and she was awarded immunity from elimination.

As for the Elimination Challenge - it was Restaurant Wars, but not. Each of the chefs is responsible for coming up with his or her own restaurant concept and one signature dish. They will present 100 portions of their dish at an event called Bite of Seattle, and two winners will be chosen. Restaurateur extraordinaire Danny Meyer, of the Union Square Restaurant Group and Tom Colicchio's former employer at Gramercy Tavern, is on hand to judge this contest. Guess Wolfgang had other things to do.

The restaurant concepts were all over the place, ranging from corner bistro to Thai/German. Yeah, that was Stefan's. The best of the lot were Sheldon's Filipino restaurant and Kristen's modern French, and they will go on to lead the kitchen in the real Restaurant Wars competition, which will air next week. After going back to the stew room and choosing the rest of their teams (which end up being boys vs girls), Lizzie, Micah, and Josie are sent out to face the judges. Just when it looks like Josie is finally going to be sent home, it turns out that Tom was most displeased with Micah's soulless raw food concept, and he is eliminated, leaving Sheldon with only two team mates for next week's showdown.

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

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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Top Chef Seattle Episode 10 Previews

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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Recap Roundup - Top Chef Seattle Episode 9

A Just Recompense has got to be spot on with this observation on the dinner guests: "Two hundred 'superfans' (the sound guy’s cousins, someone Tom picked off the street last week, the hunky busboy Padma took a shine to at the Space Needle) are on hand to serve as customers."

Minxeats on the Elimination Challenge premise: "Using the Kindle Fires (because Internet juggernaut Amazon needs advertisement) nearby, the cheftestants will watch a memorable scene from one of the previous nine seasons. They will use that scene as an inspiration to create a healthy version of the dish in question, and the winning dish will be bastardized into a future Healthy Choice Café Steamer. I think 'Café Steamer' is such an unfortunate name. To me it sounds like a euphemism for something someone would leave in a toilet at Starbucks. (And wouldn't local Seattle business Starbucks make a better sponsor?)"

Eater on the Quickfire judge: "The guest judge on this week's Quickfire Challenge is a stranger to our cookpetitors. They mumble, 'Who is that?' Padma introduces Bob Kramer, a 'Master Bladesmith.' I did not know that 'Bladesmith' was a thing. Why not just 'Blader'? Doesn't it sound much more natural to say that Bob Kramer is a Master Blader? "He is one of the finest Master Bladers in the country, and though at this point in his life he does not Master Blade as frequently as he used to, people pay upwards of 500 dollars an inch every time he Master Blades.' Bob Kramer worked in kitchens for ten years, and then he 'got sucked into the world of making custom knives.' Oh yeah, don't get me started on the world of custom knives. It's an infamously addictive world, and not a day goes by we don't hear another tragic story about a young professional vacuumed into the vortex of the glamorous custom knife world. Once a man has discovered Master Blading, it's hard to get him to stop."

Carol Blymire for the Washington Post on miso: "Not one of these dishes looked or sounded appetizing to me, and way too many of them incorporated miso. I don’t know about you, but I feel like miso is the lazy cook’s way to 'add flavor' to a dish. Dazzle me with something new and interesting. Know how to use salt and use it well. Cook with good product and make it taste the best it can. But don’t be lazy and throw miso into everything because it adds umami or deepens flavor. It doesn’t. It tastes like you added miso."

Allie is Wired on why John is the Most Hated Chef This Season: "The rest of the chefs are relieved to hear they are safe. They also get the details on John’s 99 problems/excuses. He stands by the pots being to blame for his awful risotto and exclaims: 'I’m pissed! I shouldn’t have to cook again. It was the pots!' I guess they really want to make sure we find him completely repulsive…John then grabs all of Lizzie’s dill that she agreed to share and then repeatedly leaves the oven cooking her meat open as he complains about her 'pushing him around' and constantly 'bitching' about his lack of common courtesy in the kitchen. He then goes on to say she should be thanking him for sharing the pickles. This guy is an incredibly sad human being."

Grub Street on healthy: "Speaking of potpies, Kristen wants to make a 'healthy' chicken potpie. Josie wants to make a healthy dish, too, since her job is teaching people how to eat wisely. Meanwhile, Brooke talks about being depressed, becoming overweight, and then losing the weight. Why all this talk of healthy food? I think it’s because our sponsor is Healthy Choice, the leading provider of food that’s not only nutritious but comes in brightly colored boxes."

HitFix on complicated: "Once the sharp, shiny objects are put away, Padma explains the ridiculously complex challenge. There will be three elimination rounds with three teams of three. For the first round, the chefs will have to sharpen dull knives. The fastest two teams move on. Next, the teams have to tourne fifty potatoes. In the third round, the winning team splits up and each chef competes individually. The chefs must then each break down and french a rack of two rabbits. The first chef to finish the rabbits gets immunity and a Bob Kramer blade. I really think it takes Padma longer to explain the challenge than for us to see it."

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Friday, January 4, 2013

All Top Chef Interview with John Tesar

Top Chef: Seattle contestant John Tesar talks about his experience on the show.

A highlight:

ATC: Have you watched the previous seasons of Top Chef? 

 JT: Yes, I believe I have watched every episode of every season for the past ten seasons. 

ATC: So you knew about the curse of the risotto... 

JT: Yes, of course, it was just the luck of the draw, I could have gotten anything, but I got the risotto. Howie's dish was very complicated and included frog's legs and all sorts of things. It was a challenge to make it healthy. It was complicated and let's not forget that he sweat in the dish!

Click here for the full interview.

Click here to learn more about Spoon Bar & Kitchen.

Click here to "Save a Chef."

Thank you Chef John!

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Thursday, January 3, 2013

Reactions to Top Chef Seattle Episode 9

It was Old Home Week at Top Chef Seattle when the current crop of cheftestants were asked to make healthy versions of dishes from previous seasons and former Top Chef Masters contestants were asked to judge them. First, however, the chefs had to get through a cutting ordeal during the Quickfire Challenge. Master bladesmith Bob Kramer was on hand to judge a three-round contest involving knife skills.

In round one, three groups of three were asked to sharpen chef's knives. The two groups to sharpen their knives first moved on to round two where they were asked to tournée 50 potatoes. The group to finish that chore first moved to round three where they broke down and frenched 2 rabbits. In the end, Micah came away with the win, immunity, and one of Bob Kramer's very expensive knives.

For the Elimination Challenge, each chef was given a Kindle Fire to view the dish from the previous season on which they would have to make his or her healthy variation. The winner would receive $15,000 and have the dish turned into a Healthy Choice meal. After shopping, the chefs had 2 1/2 hours to cook their meals at the Palace Ballroom for the judges and a gathering of super fans. The judges included Wylie Dufresne, Chris Cosentino, Jonathan Waxman, and Wolfgang Puck. The winner was Chef Kristen for her take on Carla Hall's chicken pot pie from Season 8.

Chefs John and Lizzy were on the bottom, so they had to compete head-to-head, making a healthy burger just like CJ's pork burger from the current season. John chose lamb as his protein while Lizzy chose chicken. Lizzy's burger was judged to be moister and healthier, so John was sent to pack his knives.

What did you think of last night's episode? Please leave your comments below.

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ATC Love to Chef John Tesar

With his years of experience, Chef Tesar was a formidable competitor, but he was tripped up by the most dreaded of Top Chef dishes: risotto. While the uneven pan may have been the cause for the inconsistent texture of his risotto, he had nowhere to hide with regard to his lamb burger. In a head-to-head battle with Chef Lizzy Binder to make a healthy burger, the judges were generally satisfied with the flavor of both. However, the lack of moisture in Chef Tesar's lamb burger and the addition of fatty elements like a fried egg and cream cheese to a dish that was supposed to be healthy tipped the scales in Lizzy's favor. Despite not becoming Top Chef, we're sure that he will continue to shake things up in Dallas.

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Congratulations to Chef Kristen Kish!

The wins just keep on comin' for Chef Kish! Her challenge this week was to make a healthy version of Carla Hall's chicken pot pie dish from Season 8. Not only did her pot pie win her $15,000, a variation of her dish will become a new Healthy Choice meal sold in supermarkets nationwide. With only seven other contestants left in the competition, Chef Kish is well on her way to the finals. She is certainly positioning herself to be the chef to beat!

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