Meet Top Chef Antonia


Top Chef: Antonia

Top-Chef-Antonia AGE: 31

HOMETOWN: Los Angeles, Calif.

PROFESSION: Executive Chef, Foxtail, SBE Restaurant Group

CULINARY EDUCATION: French Culinary Institute

FAVORITE SIMPLE SPRING RECIPE: Baby beets with bouchon goat cheese and marcona almonds
Antonia worked for executive chef Lee Hefter at Spago restaurant for six years and is now Executive Chef at the popular L.A. restaurant Foxtail. A single mother living in Los Angeles with her 7-year-old daughter, Antonia comes from an Italian background and says fresh linguine with white truffle is her favorite thing to cook. She always has aged balsamic and extra virgin olive oil on hand, and root beer floats with her daughter are her favorite indulgence.

Introducing Top Chef: Andrew

Top Chef: Andrew

Top-Chef-Andrew AGE: 30

HOMETOWN: Fort Lauderdale, Fla. – currently resides in New York City


CULINARY EDUCATION: A.S. Culinary Arts, Johnson & Wales, North Miami

FAVORITE SIMPLE SUMMER RECIPE: Diced strawberries, mango, tomato, cucumber, and jicama. Thai dressing (sugar, lime juice, fish sauce and siracha). Thai basil and mint chiffonade.

For the past two years, Andrew has studied everything from the French cuisine of Raymond Blanc to the molecular gastronomy of Ferran Adria. With food influences that range from African, Spanish, French and Thai to Vietnamese, Japanese, Latino and Indian, Andrew prides himself on being diverse in the kitchen. When Andrew isn’t working, you can find him researching cuisines at a bookstore or shopping for spices that are uncommon and of multicultural influences to adapt to his cuisine. He believes in translating the flavors and techniques from different cultures into innovative interpretations that do not stray far from their origins. His goal is to leave a legacy like the chefs before his time, which shaped him and his fellow chefs minds and refined their techniques. He says he doesn’t make food for mere sustenance, but to create an experience that impacts the soul.

Top Chef Chicago Picks Final 16

Top-Chef-Chicago The fourth season of Top Chef is still more than a month away, but for 16 lucky and talented contestants, it must feel like years! 

Bravo has announced the line-up for Top Chef: Chicago and they include a restaurant consultant from San Francisco, a sous chef from New York, and a culinary designer who believes food is art!

Over the next two weeks, I’ll introduce them individually, but in the meantime, here is the full roster.

-Andrew, 30 – Hometown: Fort Lauderdale, FL; Resides in N.Y.
-Antonia, 31 – Hometown/Resides in: Los Angeles, CA
-Dale, 29 – Hometown: Chicago, IL; Resides in N.Y.
-Erik, 38 – Hometown: Chappaqua, NY; Resides in San Francisco, CA
-Jennifer, 35 – Hometown: Brooklyn, NY; Resides in San Francisco, CA
-Lisa, 27 – Hometown: Toronto, Canada; Resides in N.Y.
-Manuel, 33 – Hometown: Laredo, TX; Resides in N.Y.
-Mark, 29 – Hometown: Invercargill, New Zealand; Resides in N.Y.
-Nikki, 35 – Hometown/Resides in: N.Y.
-Nimma, 26 – Hometown: Peachtree City, GA; Resides in Atlanta, GA
-Richard, 35 – Hometown: Uniondale, NY; Resides in Atlanta, GA
-Ryan, 28 – Hometown: Los Banos, CA; Resides in San Francisco, CA
-Spike, 27 – Hometown: Clearwater Beach, FL; Resides in Williamsburg, N.Y.
-Stephanie, 31 – Hometown: Stamford, CT; Resides in Chicago, IL
-Valerie, 32 – Hometown/Resides in: Chicago, IL
-Zoi, 30, – Hometown: Seattle, WA; Resides in San Francisco, CA


Let the Flames Begin!

Food Network’s Super Wedding Cake Challenge

Cake_Challenge If you’re more interested in wedding rings than Super Bowl rings, tune in to the Food Network on February 3 for a marathon of Wedding Cake Challenges!

It all starts at 3 pm with The Wedding Cake Classic Challenge.  Bakers in Tulsa compete for cash in this challenge.

At 4 it’s the Wedding Cake Challenge with teams in Beaver Creek, CO trying to come up with the most spectacular wedding cakes.

At 5 it’s Ultimate Wedding Cake Challenge with Giada De Laurentiis helping one lucky couple choose the wedding cake that will be their own.

At 6, Designer Wedding Cake Cook-off, where contestants can only use one icing tip to decorate their cake.

At 7, Wedding Cake Surprise.  Designers must design a cake for a couple they only just met.

Finally at 8 it’s the National Wedding Cake Championship.  Over 80 top cake decorators from all over the world are here in hopes of winning the cash prize and bragging rights.


Wow!  That’s a lot of cake, but the good news is watching the Food Network Wedding Cake Challenge Marathon is completely calorie free!

BBC America Unveils Last Restaurant Standing

One world renowned chef – nine couples with a dream – only one restaurant

Last  Restaurant Standing It’s going to be some ride for nine couples all competing for a chance to live their culinary dream.  Last Restaurant Standing is coming to the US on BBC America.

Over the course of 14 weeks, nine couples with little or no experience will be asked to take over an empty restaurant and turn it into a money-making showpiece in only a week.  Raymond Blanc, owner of two Michelin starred restaurants hosts the series and he’s not going to let these couples slide by on a dream.  This is going to be hard work and with that will come sweat, tears and maybe some blood (ooh, watch the knife!)

Like all good reality shows, the couples will live and work together – and if you think the mothers and daughters are bad on Crowned, wait until you see husbands and wives go at it.

Each week a panel of ‘inspectors’ will visit the restaurants and the three lowest scoring sites will have to face off in a challenge round.  The one who fails gets shut down.  The ultimate winner gets their own brand new restaurant with the financial and personal backing of Blanc.

“The couples taking part are very brave, they have to leave their families, or change the schooling of their children, it is a life changing decision to take part in this program – it is not just a game. They are making many sacrifices….," says Blanc.

But it will be worth it for at least one pair.

The nine competing couples are:

  • Martin, a prison caterer, and his fiancée Emma who works in a bingo hall.
  • Jeremy, a chef in the Marines, and his wife Jane.
  • Lloyd and Adwoa, an engaged couple who run market stalls selling food.
  • Jazz drummer Sam and his wife Jacqui, an actress & waitress.
  • Eddie and his older brother Michael, a communications consultant.
  • Advertising copywriter Grant and his wife Laura.
  • Sisters and children’s entertainers, Jess and Laura.
  • Nicola, a home cook and successful businesswoman, and her son Tom.
  • Mature university student Chris and his partner Jade.


Last Restaurant Standing premieres with a two-hour special on Tuesday, February 12, 8:00 pm.  After that the show moves to it’s normal 9:00 time slot. 

Want a sneak preview?  Tune in for a one-hour episode on Thursday, February 7, 9:00 pm on BBC America.


Photo: Courtesy of BBC

The inspectors with Raymond Blanc – (left to right) Lee Cash, Sarah Willingham, Raymond Blanc and John Lederer.

Congratulations On Your Engagement, Gail!

The news is out that Gail Simmons, Top Chef judge, is now engaged to be married to her long-time boyfriend Jeremy. He surprised her with a ring, elegant breakfast in bed, and bouquets of flowers. Read all of the details and join Reality Cooking in wishing the happy couple all of the best!

Photo © Bravo Television

Are You the Next Food Network Star?

Next Food Network Star

Season 3 of The Next Food Network Star may be over, but the preparations for Season 4 are well under way…and you could be the one the producers are looking for! All you have to do is upload an audition film of you doing your foodie stuff. YouTube veterans are already halfway there. Head on over to the Next Food Network Star MySpace Page. Once you’ve taken care of the uploading process then you just have to fill out an online application and you’re all set!

NOTE: For those of us who would rather watch The Next Food Network Star instead of be one, it’s great fun to check out the audition videos that have already been uploaded. They can be compared to the videos from last year’s finalists. See if you can pick the finalists!

Top Chef 3.10 – Nothing + Bad Food = Goodbye Howie

Chef Howie

First Howie shocked his fellow contestants by not coming up with ANYTHING for the Quickfire Challenge and followed that up with ugly and bad food. To no one’s suprise, it was finally Howie’s night to pack up his knives and go home. Sadly, it seemed that he had finally maybe even learned a lesson about his bulldog, uncooperative attitude. Alas, I suppose it was too little, too late…and then there were 6.

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Introducing ‘The Next Iron Chef’

The Next Iron Chef

Apparently the Food Network has decided that reality TV is a good place for the network to go after a few seasons of The Next Food Network Star. Back in July, a new show for this October called The Next Iron Chef was announced. Now we know a bit more of the details behind the need for an additional Iron Chef. YumSugar has the scoop on the announced departure of Iron Chef Mario Batali for presumably greener pastures on PBS. Batali has been a fixture on the network since 1996.

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Geoduck – What, Exactly, Is It?

Geoduck Clam

For me, the exotic protein challenge at the beginning of this third season of Top Chef is still one of the season’s most fascinating. Beyond such oddities as eel and black chicken, we were introduced to geoduck (pronounced “gooey duck”). I must admit that prior to the show, even though I consider myself fairly well versed in a wide variety of foods, I did not know what geoduck was. Here is your quick guide…

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