Interview with Top Chef Seattle winner Kristen Kish

Five of Bravo’s Top Chef Influencers (including the indomitable Kelley’s Break Room!) sat down for an in-depth interview with Top Chef Seattle winner Kristen Kish, in which we learn that she never ever ever cooks at home and that her earliest memory of cooking at home was a soy sauce pudding she made at the age of 5. See for yourself – embedded by Embedded VideoYouTube...
Top Chef Season 10 finale

Top Chef Season 10 finale

And the winner is . . . You know it by now. In an oddly staged Iron Chef-meets-The Voice final elimination challenge, Brooke Williamson and Kristen Kish went head-to-head in front of a live studio audience in the last challenge of a 2-part finale. Prior to the challenge, the finalists were instructed to plan five courses, with no direction other than they must use scallops in the second course and snapper in the fourth. All the food they ordered was provided as specified, and they chose their sous-chefs in advance. (Brooke chose CJ and Stefan while Kristen went with Sheldon and Lizzie.) So far so good . . . all they had to do was show up and make the best food they could. Their only twist was the live audience – Brooke was visibly shocked when she walked into what I’ll have to call Top Chef Stadium – but that wasn’t a deal-breaker for either one. Judges chose a winner in each round, and the first cheftestant to earn three votes would earn the title Top Chef. It was a bold finale format, and one that seems overwhelmingly unpopular, if you rely on Twitter as a measure. Props to the producers for trying to come up with something new and innovative, but there was a fatal flow that was obvious to viewers by 50 minutes past the hour . . . we all knew with 10 minutes still left in the challenge that Kristen would win. The chefs were just starting to make their snapper dishes, and Kristen had already won won rounds 1 and 3. There just wouldn’t...
From ponzu to pistou – all the Top Chef buzz words

From ponzu to pistou – all the Top Chef buzz words

Kid Two is a fairly savvy reality food competition watcher, but Top Chef Seattle left him with lots of questions. Not what you may think of 14-year old boy questions, but things like Mom, why are they cooking with pea stew? Don’t you call it pea soup?  So at his bequest, here are the Top 12 Top Chef vocabulary words from season 10. Yes, there’s a quiz at the end. Links on the vocabulary words will (mostly) take you to some delicious-sounding recipes: Dashi is a Japanese soup stock, the base for miso, and usually made with a sea vegetable. Nage is a light broth used to poach seafood, from the French nager, to swim. Saboyan – a foamy egg sauce. It’s the French version of the Italian zabaglione. Très popular in Top Chef-land Kristen Kish’s Episode 4 winning Quickfire Challenge dish:Top Sirloin Tartare with Mustard Sabayon & Carpaccio Salad   Yuzu – I knew this one. Yuzu is an East Asian citrus that, in Japan, is made into a flavorful paste. I keep it in the fridge to use in this easy rice, ham, and pea stir-fry.   Geoduck – this is not actually “gooey duck.” It’s a large clam that, as Top Chef Season 10 winner Kristen Kish famously pointed out, “looks like a penis. A really big one.” Here is a video of Top Chef Season 3 winner Hung Huynh demonstrating how to cook one: Vadouvan – an Indian spice blend with French influences that include fenugreek, cardamom, tumeric, and red pepper flakes. I’ve never tasted it. I must. Pistou – you may have heard “pea stew,” but it’s...

Top Chef Season 10 Recap: journey to the finale

The final episode of Top Chef Seattle is almost here . . . a few more days, and we all find out who will have earned the title of Top Chef Season 10! I’ve been a fan since discovering the show in Season 3 and think this is probably the Best Season Ever, in part because there were so many personable and talented female chefs. Brooke, Kristen, and Lizzie all stood out by mid-season, not just for their talent but for their professionalism and character. My bet back then was already on an all-female finale, and woot! I was right! Kristen Kish and Brooke Williamson battle it out Wednesday, February 27 at 10/9c for the title. Who will win? Kristen has proven herself to be resilient and intuitive, probably a true genius at innovating a dish. Brooke is talented beyond her years, with an innate sense of taking creative chances that really do pay off in the end. It could honestly go either way, if neither one makes a mistake. Going by the numbers, it seems Kristen has the edge. Brooke won 5 elimination challenges and scored high in an additional 2, but 3 of those wins came after Kristen was gone. Kristen beat Brooke in those challenges where Brooke scored high but didn’t win – episodes 4 and 7 – and beat her in episode 10. Kristen has also been fighting in the Last Chance Kitchen. But intuitively, I think Brooke will take the title. She owns two restaurants and has been cooking longer than Kristen, and I think that gives her the edge. It will definitely be...

Top Chef Season 10: Last Chance Kitchen winner

The Last Last Chance Kitchen ended with Tom Colicchio leaving us wondering which chef – between Lizzie or Kristen – would earn a place back in the Top Chef finale. Here’s the final installment; the first two and a half minutes serve as a highlight reel of the Last Chance Kitchen episodes, and it ends with the winning chef being introduced into the competition. I would have liked to see Tom announcing the winner IN the kitchen, as always. The losing chef should have had a chance to congratulate the winner and say her final words. You know who the winner is by now, though, right? Congratulations Kristen Kish! Content and/or other value provided by our partner,...

The Last Last Chance Kitchen: Josh vs. Save a Chef Winner vs. Kristen

The final Top Chef Seattle Season 10 Last Chance Kitchen began with Tom Colicchio introducing the two eliminated chefs from last week’s final Save A Chef battle: CJ Jacobson and Lizzie Binder. Chef CJ was kicked off along with Tyler Wiard back in episode 5’s “Pike Place Pickle,” famously and angrily observing afterward, “It’s not ‘Top Team Chef;’ it’s ‘Top Chef.'” He went on to win seven Last Chance Kitchen battles in a row, losing only against Kristen Kish after her Restaurant Wars elimination, and along the way won a Twitter following loyal enough to keep him in the running, even in a close race against Stefan Richter. But was his following strong enough to crown him the Save A Chef king? Chef Lizzie was much more in the eyes of the network viewing audience, lasting all the way to the final four. She was eliminated because of the lack of seasoning on her sourdough and salmon sandwich in episode 14’s “Kings of Alaska.” As she said in her Last Chance Kitchen, she understood why she was lost. The challenge had stirred up bittersweet memories of her father, a fisherman who recently passed away. “You cook from your heart, and there it was. All that sadness, out there.” Lizzie was close to redemption, turning out an excellent salmon dish that Tom took quite a shine to, but in the end Kristen took the Last Chance Kitchen win. Lizzie moved on to the Save A Chef contest, for one last opportunity to try and get into that finale. Back to the Last Chance Kitchen. Tom brought CJ and Lizzie in front of...

Top Recipe: Michael Voltaggio cooks Brooke’s chicken and quail

The elimination challenge is Top Chef’s epic Episode 15 – Glacial Gourmand?  Simple, really; no stress at all. Just Create a dish that Represents the Defining Culinary Moment in Your Life which will be served to the Governor of Alaska. Winner Brooke Williamson created this braised chicken and quail dish. She has said that knew she wanted to be a chef from the age of four, and so the chicken part of the plate was inspired by her childhood memories – her mother’s cooking – and the quail represented where she’s evolved as a chef. It’s loaded with flavor from shitake mushrooms, kombu, duck fat, and carrot juice and served with barley, pearl onions, and pickled turnips. It’s a complex blend of flavors, but not more than you can chew. Here’s Michael Voltaggio coaching us through a re-creation: I can’t wait to try it! Click here for her recipe from bravo.com. Content and/or other value provided by our partner,...

Last Chance Kitchen 11: Lizzie vs Kristen

NOOOOO! My dream of an all-female Top Chef finale died when Lizzie was booted off of Episode 14: Kings of Alaska – although though her buns were glorious her salmon lacked seasoning. Bummer. But she did get one last chance to stay in Top Chef, cooking in the Last Chance Kitchen against … Lizzie guessed right – 3-time Last Chance Kitchen champion Kristen Kish. The challenge Tom set forth – choose a lovely fresh Alaskan fish and use it to make a dish. Cooking over a campfire. In 30 minutes. Kristen and Lizzie got right down to work. None of the rivalry, flirtation, smack down, trash talk, and defensive stances we’ve seen on LCK. They had a job to do and set out to do it, as the professionals they are. Tom Colicchio is worth watching in these Last Chance Kitchen challenges; he’s so much more relaxed and conversational than during the regular Top Chef shows. In this episode, in particular, maybe it’s because there are only two challenges left, he was particularly engaged with the cheftestants. The two chefs both made a seafood-type stew. Kristen gave her finished dish an Asian flair, cod with coconut broth, lime, chili marinated tomato, corn, and petit herbs. Lizzie went for salmon redemption – poached salmon stew with fennel, leek, Hungarian paprika, and sweet pepper flakes, a little sweet and hot and comforting. Judge Tom ate quite a bit of her dish, telling her if she’d made that during the elimination challenge she’d not only have NOT gone home, but she would have won. No spoilers. Click below now to watch the...

Last Chance Kitchen 10: Stefan and Kristen romance redux

“Of course it is wifey, I knew it,” is how Stefan greets fellow contestant Kristen Kish in a picturesque outdoor Alaskan forest kitchen as they meet again for their Last Chance cookoff. “I really, really want a victory,” Kristen tells the camera. “In the end I think it would be entertaining if I beat him.” “It will be super-sad, but I can’t wait to beat her,” Stefan tells the camera. “Is this divorce time now?” Tom asks the two. “It might be,” they agree, laughing. Joking aside, Tom points out that this season, Stefan has been on the bottom four times, one-third of all the challenges. In honor of all the time Stefan has spent at the bottom, he gives them offal to cook with, “bottom of the barrel ingredients,”  Tom explains. Kristen and Stefan joke and flirt as they cook offal together in the woods.  Kristen goes for chicken livers, prepared with pickled fruit and a garlic and mustard caramel. toasted bread and herb salad. confident she can make Stefan made beuschel, a southern German dish, incorporating tripe, and heart into a cream broth with  bread galette, topped with liver and a parsley salad. Watch below to see which chef takes home the Last Chance Kitchen victory: Content and/or other value provided by our partner,...

Cruising toward the final four: Top Chef Episode 13 recap

Lucky 13 –  the episode in which our final five chefs hop on a Celebrity cruise from Seattle to Juneau. Chefs Lizzie Bender, Brooke, Sheldon, Josh, Stefan. We get to know the chefs a little better. Brooke talks about her fear of boats and wanting her son to not learn that fear, and how her husband booked a trip to Catalina for them before she left for Top Chef to help her get over her fear. She didn’t say how the trip went, but I’ve been on that boat to Catalina. It was awful – the seas were rough, the boat was pitching in the waves, passengers were green and . . . let’s just say there’s a chance the ferry didn’t help Brooke very much. We learn that Stefan was a bad kid, bad enough for his mother to send him to military school for a year, where he learned to cook. It’s an interesting story, and humanizes him, but let me say – he Stefan is an HR nightmare. Seriously. He’s definitely been like this all season, but there were SO many incidents this episode: touching the the female chefs, dancing uncomfortably close to Brooke, smirking about putting something “warm in their mouths.” He jokes that he and Sheldon are there on a gay cruise, and asks Lizzie with a wink if she’s ready for some “sexy time.” If this were a corporation instead of a reality TV show, I’m certain after just one of his double entendres lawyers would have put the entire cast and crew in sensitivity training faster than you can say quickfire challenge....

Top recipe: Michael Voltaggio makes Josh’s fried chicken

The simplest things are generally the hardest to make well. The challenge in Top Chef Episode 12 was straightforward – make great fried chicken. Josh was the clear winner, brining the meat like his grandpa taught him and making this smoked fried chicken with hot sauce and blue cheese. I love it! This would be a great dish for a summer weekend dinner with some friends, my favorite dijon potato salad, and a bottle of pinot grigio. Michael Voltaggio shows us how it’s done:...

Last Chance Kitchen 9: Josie vs Kristen

It’s grudge match that was written in the stars: popular favorite Top Chef Kristen Kish, who took the fall for Josie Smith-Malave’s poor time management and insubordination in last week’s Restaurant Wars, faces Josie one last time in the Last Chance Kitchen after Josie was booted for her greasy fried chicken. “We can take a minute to be friendly about the challenge, yeah?” Josie asks, acknowledging the tension in the car as she and Kristen drive from the Last Chance Kitchen to Pike Market. (It’s a hybrid Toyota Camry, by the way. Kristen is driving.) “Totally,” smiles Kristen, always graceful under pressure. They are on there way to Seattle’s Pike Market, each instructed to pick out the nicest salmon they can find. After some antics with the fishmongers – is that a stunt fish Kristen kisses or fresh catch? – they return to the kitchen, where Tom finishes explaining the challenge: they have 30 minutes to break down their whole salmon, portion it into ten identical pieces, and create ten composed dishes. The clock ticks down. The eliminated chefs wince right along with Tom as they watch Kristen and Josie inexpertly butcher the fish. CJ calls out encouragement to Josie – was he sensing hostility toward her from someone else? Kristen’s salmon is prepared with crispy skin and pickled pineapple, pickled raisins, shaved cauliflower, and creme fraiche. It’s not a perfect dish; the raisins don’t plump Josie’s made fennel pollen-dusted salmon with fennel, radish, and tarragon salad. The fennel pollen drew raves for the lovely aroma, but she dropped a piece of salmon on the floor and they were overcooked....

Michael Voltaggio makes Sheldon’s sour tamarind soup

The best part of the Top Chef Season 10’s heart-wrenching Restaurant Wars was Sheldon Simeon. He dug into his Filipino roots for Restaurant Herbano, named after his grandfather, and concocted a sour tamarind soup with pork belly, shrimp, and fish to win the elimination challenge. I didn’t really know anything about tamarinds. It’s a date-like fruit native to tropical Africa but grown all over the world. Wikipedia tell me that it’s used in everything from candy and soda to soup and curry as well as in traditional medicine, the wood is used in in furniture-making, and lemurs eat the leaves. Quite a versatile fruit. Here’s a nice photo of a ripe tamarind cut open to reveal the pasty fruit from caribbeanpot.com Here is Season 6 winner Michael Voltaggio demonstrating how to make that winning soup in this Top Recipe video: Content and/or other value provided by our partner,...

Cook like a Top Chef

This is for all you Top Chef Seattle fans wanting to duplicate a favorite dish from a challenge AND for the home cooks out there wanting to make something a little special one night – here’s a site for you to bookmark. Bravo TV has a searchable database of Top Chef recipes. Keep reading for the scoop.

Anthony Bourdain’s Jimmy Sears is really John Tesar

In Top Chef Seattle Episode 9, Past Suppers, self-proclaimed Most Hated Chef In Dallas John Tesar talks about that he hired Anthony Bourdain in the 80’s and introduced him to Eric Ripert. Not only that, but he’s also the real-life Jimmy Sears from Anthony Bourdain’s fast-pace, groundbreaking book Kitchen Confidential. Courtesy of Bravo and Ecco / HarperCollins, here is an excerpt from the book so you’ll know exactly how Bourdain felt about Tesar. Read it and then go and buy the book. I met Steven at the Supper Club. It was 1993, my return to the “bigs.” I’d been working for Bigfoot at his West Village saloon, comfortable but in career limbo. I took a few weeks off to kick back in the Caribbean, and when I returned, I found a down-on-his-luck Jimmy Sears in Bigfoot’s kitchen. Bigfoot had been eating dinner at the Gotham recently and had experienced some kind of culinary epiphany. Suddenly, he wanted a real chef, and Sears, whose restaurant in the Hamptons had just gone under, was sleeping on floors around Manhattan, dodging creditors and ex-girlfriends, and in general going through a rough patch—prime time for a Bigfoot recruiting effort. Jimmy was a brilliant cook. He’d come up with Brendan Walsh at Arizona 206, and the food he turned out in his brief time working the Bigfoot mines was so good, I’d stay after my shift was over, sit at the bar and order dinner and pay for it. Seeing what Jimmy could do in the kitchen really inspired me; I’d been slinging hash for way too long, and tasting a real demi-glace again, eating new, exciting food, seeing...