Top Chef Duels

By Iron Chef Leftovers

Top Chef has apparently abandoned the all-star concept and is instead going with a head-to-head competition involving former contestants. From reading the description, it sounds like this is going to be Top Chef Chopped with a twist, that being:

Rivalries will be intensified as “Top Chef Duels” ups the ante and allows the competing chefs to each pick one mini-duel based on the other’s perceived weaknesses in the kitchen.

I like that they are getting both regular and all-star contestants, but I would have liked to have seen all the matchups as regular vs. masters.

Here are the matchups:

Episode 101: Richard Blais (Top Chef Chicago runner- up and Top Chef All-Stars winner) vs. Marcel Vigneron (Top Chef Season 2 runner up) – I like this matchup with two molecular gastronomy guys going at it. I would have loved to see either Blais or Vigneron against Wylie Dufresne, but this one is going to be good. I think Blais wins it in a close battle.

Episode 102: Shirley Chung (Top Chef New Orleans finalist) vs. Brooke Williamson (Top Chef Seattle runner up) – Chung didn’t impress me on TS-NOLA and I thought that Williamson was going to win TS-Seattle, so I think it is pretty clear how I think this is going to end up. I would have loved to see Williamson against Naomi Pomeroy or Anita Lo here.

Episode 103: Mike Isabella (Top Chef All-Stars runner up) vs. Antonia Lofaso (Top Chef Chicago finalist) – both of these two are very underrated cooks and I think this is going to end up being a fun matchup and I think Isabella is going to prevail. Would love to see one of them against someone like Jon Waxman.

Episode 104: CJ Jacobson (Top Chef Miami contestant) vs. Stefan Richter (Top Chef Season 5 runner up) – there is going to be a ton of trash talk in this competition and I think that CJ takes this one with Stefan complaining the whole time.  Would be cool if this one had Jacobson or Richter against Tom Colicchio.

Episode 105: David Burke (Top Chef Masters Season 5) vs. Takashi Yagihashi (Top Chef Masters Season 4) – master vs. master here, I think that Yagihashi takes it. Would have liked to see one of them square off with one of the Voltaggios or Sheldon Simeon.

Episode 106: Tiffani Faison (Top Chef Season 1 runner up) vs. Dale Talde (Top Chef Chicago and Top Chef All-Star contestant) – another tough call with two great chefs, but I think Talde will squeak out a victory. How about a battle against Chris Cosentino here?

Episode 107: Nyesha Arrington (Top Chef Texas contestant) vs. Jen Carroll (Top Chef Las Vegas finalist) – Nyesha annoyed the crap out of me and doesn’t strike me a great chef but Jen Carroll is, so I don’t think this one will be close. Fun would be Carroll against Rick Moonen. Really fun would be Carroll against Eric Ripert, her mentor.

Episode 108: Stephanie Izard (Top Chef Chicago winner) vs. Kristen Kish (Top Chef Seattle winner) – another really great battle, although I think that Kish got an easier road to winning TS-Seattle by plowing through last chance kitchen. Izard is the better cook and I think she wins, but I would love to see either of them square off against Mary Sue Milliken or Tracy Desjardins.

Episode 109: Kevin Gillespie (Top Chef Las Vegas fan favorite) vs. Art Smith (Top Chef Masters Season 1) – the battle of the beards and finally a master vs. regular battle, and they definitely got the matchup right. Both of these guys do home-style southern so it should be fun and probably involve a ton of pork products. I think Gillespie wins though.

Episode 110: Championship Finale – has me wondering how this is going to work. You have 9 winners from the previous episodes. If I had to guess who takes the competition overall not knowing how this is going to be presented, I am putting my money on Stephanie Izard.

The show premiers on August 6th.

Upcoming Events of Interest

By Iron Chef Leftovers

A few potentially fun cooking related events will be happening around Seattle in April.

On April 9th, chocolate guru, Autumn Martin will be doing a free event at the Book Larder in Fremont promoting her new book: Malts & Milkshakes: 60 Recipes for Frosty, Creamy Frozen Treats. I am sure there will be some tasty treats to sample during the event. It runs 6:30 -8.

On April 28th, Book Larder is hosting former Top Cheftestant/Heartthrob Fabio Vivani for a book reading/signing from 4-5:30. Reservations are required and are $25, which includes a copy of Fabio’s book, Fabio’s Italian Kitchen.

And one not food related:

On April 29th, the UW Bookstore is hosting Bill Mullins to talk about his new book, Becoming Big League: Seattle, the Pilots, and Stadium Politics at 7PM in a free event. The focus of the evening is on Seattle’s one year wonder, the Pilots.

A Really Bad Deal

By Iron Chef Leftovers

Since popup restaurants are all the rage these days, I recently saw a post on about one being done by a “celebrity chef.”

Here is what you would get:

Mac and Cheese with Butter Sauce and Crispy Bacon

Hot Chicken Bite with Tomato and Cucumber Salad

Meat Loaf with Collard Greens, Mashed Potatoes and Creamed Corn

Banana Pudding, Pecan Short Bread and Bruleed Bananas

Each course comes with a paired cocktail, a gift bag containing cookies and a bottle of wine and a photo op with the chef.


The regular price for this privilege is $399 per person, tax and gratuity included, but if you act now, you can get this meal for $175 per person (although there is some confusion if gratuity is included).


The chef?

Thomas Keller?  Nope

Hugh Atchinson?  Nope

Ferran Adria? Not even close.

The resurrected corpse of Julia Child? Well, that is closer.

It is none other than former Top Chef contestant Carla Hall, most famous for not winning Top Chef and being on a talk show. The event is held in Bloomingdales in NYC and I can imagine that Hall probably won’t be doing the cooking. For $175 dollars, go somewhere else – it is NYC, you can find a better meal just about anywhere. Hell, for half that, I will make the same meal for you if you want, and I am slightly less annoying than Hall.

Top Chef: Seattle

By Iron Chef Leftovers

The new season premier has officially been announced for November 7th. Bravo also announced the contestants. It is a somewhat underwhelming lineup, especially after the firepower they brought out last season, but the real kick in the groin; not a single Seattle chef in the lineup. I know that the 3 they had last season were complete busts, but really, not one home town (or even Portland or Vancouver) chef? Makes me want to not watch the show just on that principle.