Top Chef cheftestants, Alex, Ariane and Carla

Top Chef is coming on Wednesday, so it’s about time to learn who the new cheftestants will be. There are 17 cheftestants in all and I will be posting a little bit about each one in the upcoming days.

Top Chef contestant Alex

Alex is 33 and though he is from New York, he is currently living in LA. He is an Executive Chef at Restaurant 15. He likes to train for marathons, cook paella and add a little Caribbean flair to his cooking.

Top Chef contestant Ariane

Ariane is 41 and from Verona, New Jersey. She is the owner/chef of CuliAriane in Montclair, NJ. She learned to cook from her Grandmothers (and the Culinary Institute of America) and enjoys spending time with her daughters at the beach and entertaining family and friends. She believes she should always keep smiling. It will be interesting to see how that works out for her!

Top Chef contestant Carla

Carla is 44 and she is originally from Nashville, TN and is living in Washington, D.C. She is the owner/chef of Alchemy Caterers. Her food balances Southern comfort food and her classical French training. She keeps European butter, good chocolate and bacon on hand at all times and enjoys making pies.

Photo Credit: Top Chef

Top Chef coming soon

Top Chef Season 5 CastIf you are anxiously awaiting the new season of Top Chef, you aren’t alone. I have my DVR set to start recording on Wednesday at 9pm Central time for the first episode of Season 5. Are you ready?

If you’re ready, and waiting impatiently, you could go try some food from former Top Chefs. If you’re in Washington, D.C. you can try Spike Mendelsohn’s Five Napkin Burger at his Good Stuff Eatery. Richard Blais will be working with Flip restaurant in Atlanta which is opening at the end of this month.

Brian Malarkey, from Season 3 can be found at the Oceanaire Seafood Room in San Diego. Camille Becerra, also from Season 3 can be found cooking things up at Paloma in Brooklyn.

Check out USA Today to find out where you can find more former Top Chef cheftestants cooking these days.

And keep an eye right here to meet the new comers for Season 5 in the upcoming days.

Photo Credit: Top Chef

Chef Jeff blogs too

Chef JeffIf you’ve been watching the antics of the Chef Jeff project you might be interested to learn a little more about Chef Jeff. He has a blog in which he writes about the show, his book and other little tidbits of his family life.

I do wonder how many more times Adam will end up in the cooler saying, “Bro, you just don’t get it, Bro!” At least Chef Jeff is giving him a chance to be something bigger than what he is. I just hope he can be successful.

If you know someone like Adam or one of the other young people on Chef Jeff’s crew, encourage them to sign up for the Chef Jeff Scholarship. Someone will win a $20,000 scholarship towards an education at the International Culinary Schools at the Art Institutes.

The Next Food Network Star deadline is approaching

If you think you’ve got what it takes to be the next Food Network star you have just under two weeks to get your entry in. You must submit a 2-3 minute video by November 14, 2008 to be considered. You also need to fill out the application and and read the eligibility requirements.

So really, get busy already! Or, if you aren’t interested in entering the contest yourself, watch some of the videos that have already been uploaded. There are sure to be some clear winners and losers in that bunch. Let me know if you find the next Food Network Star in there somewhere!

Iron Chef Thanksgiving Showdown

Iron Chef America
I’ve been watching Iron Chef since it was just a English dubbed Japanese show on the Food network. Last night when I saw a preview for an upcoming episode I was seriously excited.

On November 16 the Iron Chef Thanksgiving Showdown will take place. All of the Iron Chefs from Iron Chef America – Batali, Morimoto, Flay, Cora and Symon – will battle each other! It looks like Flay and Symon will take on Morimoto and Cora. I wonder where that leaves Batali and his orange Crocs.

My guess is Flay and Symon will produce a very manly Thanksgiving feast while Morimoto and Cora will be more innovative about it all. And perhaps Batali will be one of the judges. What do you think will happen?

No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain in Spain New Episode Tonight

So maybe this show doesn’t exactly count as “reality cooking” but it’s one of, if not my favorite food show on television. Suffice it to say that Tony Bourdain is the reason I now write about food.

Tonight’s new episode (premiering at 10 PM EST on the Travel Channel) is Spain. I know Anthony’s been to Spain before. All I have to say is that if you think the culinary wonders of Spain can be addressed in one episode of one show, you had better watch tonight. Tony will be Tapas Bar Hopping with Albert Adria, brother of Ferran (maybe you’ve heard of him). And a tapas crawl sounds like a night of heaven if you ask me.

He’s also going to Extebarri where (source):

grilling has been raised to unthinkable zen-like heights. Hand made charcoals. A separate fire for each individual order. Separate grills — and custom designed and crafted pans and implements to best achieve perfection

Hand made charcoals sounds a bit hoity toity to me, but Anthony Bourdain doesn’t do hoity toity, not even in France, so I’ll give this place a chance.

Do any readers of this blog live in Spain or have any traveled to Spain? Does anyone have any neat tapas experiences? I’d love to hear them if you do.

Big Daddy’s House with NFNS Winner Aaron McCargo’s Show Continues This Sunday

Aaron McCargo - picture from Food NetworkI’m a huge Fan of Aaron McCargo. I was pulling for him to win throughout this whole season of The Next Food Network Star. I love his cooking style and his personality. Oh yeah and he’s from the Great State of New Jersey, just like yours truly. The first episode of Big Daddy’s House premiered the Sunday after The Next Food Network Star finale. However we haven’t heard from him in a few weeks, presumably because he was busy filming his next few episodes. But this week, the Food Network announced that the next episode of Big Daddy’s House would premiere this Sunday, August 17th, 2008 at 1:30 PM EST.

The episode is titled “Life is a Beach

Grab your sunscreen and flip-flops because life truly is a beach in this picnic inspired episode. Big Daddy is paying homage to his father and family picnics he remembers from his childhood. He’s taking his parents old recipes and updating them, Big Daddy style. He’s making Ribs with Big Daddy Rub, Mega Egga Macaroni Salad, Sock Em’ Seasoned Corn and Funky Fried Chicken.

And the recipes for this episode are all already online:

Funky Fried Chicken

Ribs with Big Daddy Rub
Mega Egga Macaroni Salad
Sock ‘Em Seasoned Corn

I know I’ll be watching (I’ve already got it set to DVR). Let me know if you folks like him as much as I do.

Want to be on an Upcoming Food Network Reality Show?

The Food Network is currently looking for people to apply for two different new reality cooking shows.

Firstly from Food Network:

Food Network is looking for the most disastrous cooks in the country to participate in a very different culinary competition show! This is the opportunity of a lifetime — to work with the best chefs in the country and learn to cook like a professional. We’re seeking outgoing people with a genuine inability to cook, but a need and desire to improve!

They say you can nominate yourself or someone else for this show. However, if you’re going to nominate someone else, you must attend the interview with that person if they are chosen.

The site to apply for the show can be found at and they have three upcoming open casting calls (unfortunately I found this too late to warn the New Yorkers of the August 9th open call) within the next week!

Charlotte, NC: Saturday, August 16, 2008

Denver, CO: Sunday, August 17, 2008

Los Angeles, CA: Sunday, August 24, 2008

And the second show which Food Network is seeking applicants is much more vague. They’re only looking for professional chefs for this one. It seems to be a four-person culinary competition that is timed. The application can be found here.

Best of luck to any who decide to apply!

Top Chef Valerie, Jennifer & Zoi


Top_Chef_Valerie AGE: 32

HOMETOWN: Chicago, Ill.

PROFESSION: Personal Chef

CULINARY EDUCATION: Culinary Arts, Kendall College, Chicago


Born and raised in Chicago, Valerie has worked her way around popular Chicago restaurants for the past nine years and is currently working as a personal chef in her native city. Valerie has a passion for traveling and loves to incorporate influences from all over the world in her cooking. She believes food is the most universal part of life and enjoys cooking cuisine with elegance and simplicity.



Top_Chef_Jennifer AGE: 35

HOMETOWN: Brooklyn, N.Y. – currently resides in San Francisco, Calif.

PROFESSION: Executive Chef COCO500 Restaurant


FAVORITE SIMPLE SPRING RECIPE: Spring Lamb’s tongue salad, sauce Dragnocello, Mache, olive oil croutons, and mustard fruit

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., and trained in classic French and Mediterranean cuisine, Jennifer believes in cooking for the season and stimulating the palette. She has lived and worked in both Paris and London and always tries to incorporate French, Italian and Spanish influences in her cooking. Jennifer is currently working as an executive chef at the popular San Francisco restaurant, COCO500, but says if she could cook anywhere in the world it would be Cinque Terre, Italy.



Top_Chef_Zoi AGE: 30

HOMETOWN: Seattle, Wash. – currently resides in San Francisco, Calif.

PROFESSION: Chef/Restaurant Consultant


FAVORITE SIMPLE SPRING RECIPE: Roasted baby California lamb with artichokes, spring onions, lemon and rosemary

A restaurant consultant living in San Francisco, Zoi began cooking at the age of 19 and has worked with some of the greatest chefs on the West Coast. After traveling extensively through Europe, she believes her food reflects her love of Greece and Italy. Zoi describes her cooking as simple and rustic and emphasizes the importance of using local, seasonal ingredients whenever possible.


And that’s it!  You’ve now met all of the new Top Chefs for the coming season! 

Hell’s Kitchen Season 1 on DVD

Hells_Kitchen The idea of a reality competition show on DVD is odd.  You already know who won, so why watch?  Then again, this is Gordon Ramsey.  It’s Hell’s Kitchen Season One on DVD and it’s "Raw and Uncensored" or so says the box.

I find it funny that they’re promoting this DVD as including "Gordon’s Infamous Obscenities and Curse Words Unbleeped."  Because, yeah, that’s what I want in my cooking show.

The DVD hits the shelves on April 8 and comes with an interview with Ramsey, a behind the scenes tour and three discs full of Ramsey’s ranting.