'Top Chef Season 5' on Serious Eats

Q&A with a 'Top Chef' Season 5 Crew Member

An anonymous "low level crew member" of Top Chef season five decided to come forward on Reddit.com and answer questions about the show. "I can't tell you anything that I think Magical Elves might sue me for...but I'll try to be as specific as I can." A few good nuggets: On Padma: She wasn't dumb, but she was a major diva who expected preferential treatment and complained about things the other judges didn't care about. She got along better with Gail than she did with Tom—she and Tom were like cats and dogs On editing the contestant interviews: They do interviews after someone gets eliminated. People keep tabs on what they wore during different segments, so that they can... More

Preview of Tonight's 'Top Chef' Season Six Premiere in Las Vegas

Tonight is a double whammy night for Top Chef. Before the three remaining chefs compete on Top Chef Masters at 10 p.m., the sixth season of Top Chef (aka the original one) will premiere at 9 p.m. with seventeen new faces running around Las Vegas. Watch these two preview clips to get in the mood. Highlights include Tom Colicchio in a vest, one cheftestant thinking that shucking clams is synonymous with shucking oysters (ha! the nerve!), and scantily-clad Vegas dancers balancing intense feather headgear. Read all about the new cheftestants here. The videos, after the jump.... More

'Top Chef' Season 5, Finale: All Bets Are Off

Finally the finale. We've soldiered through the last 12 episodes, hoping for a glimpse of genius, passion, or inspiration to hook us. The closest we've gotten is Carla's lovin', soulful take on things, but even that was slow to emerge. Can't say that we're all that surprised by the outcome of the finale, but it was the first (and last) episode this season that really got us to pay attention. More

More Top Chef: DCist Interviews Carla Hall

From DCist, blog chronicler of goings-on in our nation's capital: "People ask me, 'Will you have a restaurant?' No, I will not. But if I could have my druthers, I would have people come in and do a tasting with me. I’d tell them when they could come, and I’d tell them what they’re gonna eat. That’s the perfect world, right?!"... More

Top Chef: Tom Colicchio Doesn't Hate Toby Young

On his relationship with Toby Young: "A lot of people were like 'Oh, I can tell Tom hates Toby.' I actually got along with him really well. To get some fresh blood is nice. He's actually quite charming and funny and witty, and I enjoyed having him around so I don’t know why people think I hate him." [Time]... More

'Top Chef' Season 5, Episode 13: Mardi Gras in N'Awlins with Emeril Lagasse

Tonight, we moved from New York to New Orleans, nicely timed with next week's Mardi Gras. This involved some of the tastiest, heartiest food ever filmed this season. Granted, there wasn't a lot of background New Orleans action—no music (except for a little brass), and no signs of Katrina or post-Katrina struggles, but I guess this wasn't a documentary. Emeril Lagasse was the guest judge, and like Eric Ripert, he was full of positive energy. As the crawfish king, he could have been patronizing in the Creole cuisine department, but he was quite the opposite. ("Home run dish"..."I loved his gumbo"..."This one captured the spirit of New Orleans.") And whoa, did he even say Bam! once? [Warning: Spoilers ahead.]... More

'Top Chef' Season 5, Episode 12: 'Top Chef,' Not 'Top Pussy'

"As far as I'm concerned, the judges could have saved us all a little agita and sent them both packing." Watching Top Chef, I have finally figured out, is like watching the NCAA Division I basketball tournament. Viewers get crushes on contestants instead of teams and we then adopt those contestants through overcooked dishes and undercooked vegetables. I now root for Carla and Fabio. How could you not root for Carla? She's got that great smile. And Fabio? He got charm and personality to burn. And tonight we found out that he has pluck as well. Serious Eats' Tam Ngo, who I was having an amusing IM chat with throughout the episode, reported the following: "The episode opens with the... More

'Top Chef' Season 5, Episode 9: 'It Amused My Bouche'

There was romance in the air tonight on Top Chef. Hosea and Leah flirted, cooed, cuddled, and even kissed. Pretty G-rated, don't you think? If this was Real World they would have had sex in a hot tub. On Top Chef they were ridden with guilt just for cuddling because they both had significant others waiting for them after the show ends. In the end their non-romance romance got in the way of their food. Did one of them get sent packing? I'll never tell, until after the jump, that is. [Warning, spoilers ahead.]... More

'Top Chef' Season 5, Episode 8: Unprotected Sex

After last week's "battle of the blands" and Toby Young's raucous entrance, we weren't sure what to expect on this week's episode. It seemed like we might have seen the season's low point, at least we hoped. I also have to confess to feeling a bit more forgiving after watching last night's premiere of Chopped. [Warning, spoilers ahead.]... More

'Top Chef' Season 5, Episode 7: Toby Young Rocks

It's been two weeks since the last new Top Chef episode, and what better way to return than with British writer turned restaurant critic Toby Young. Like his forefather A. A. Gill, Young does not hold back. London food criticism and nastiness go hand in hand, and Young was nasty in the best of ways. Before we get into his top snarky quotes of the evening, let's just say tonight was reality television at its best. And this is coming from a lukewarm reality television watcher. There was real tension and real emotion. We felt the chefs' pain. The judges, except for pretty French boy Jean Christophe Novelli who didn't do it for me—is that man allergic to smiling? does... More

Top Chef Calendar Giveaway: What's Your Favorite Sugar-free Dessert?

This week on Top Chef, after a two-week holiday hiatus, the Quickfire challenge involves sweets—a huge part of life during that gingerbread-worshiping hiatus. But here's the rub. No sugar allowed. Cheftestants will have 45 minutes to make a dessert without any sugar products, with French pastry chef Jean Christophe Novelli of the Novelli Academy cookery school, in as the guest judge. In anticipation of this week's episode, we're giving away three 2009 Top Chef calendars. Just tell us your favorite dessert without sugar in the comments section below. After the jump, watch a preview of the sugarless Quickfire. The cheftestants look freaked out. You have until 3 p.m. ET Wednesday (January 7) to enter. Three winners will be chosen... More

'Top Chef' Season 5, Episode 6: It's a Wonderful Kitchen

Because we're feeling the holiday spirit, we'll try and keep our recap short this week in order to spare you the agony of what was probably the weakest episode yet this season. Let's get straight to the quickfire challenge. There's a holiday spread in the kitchen. Padma explains the challenge: create a delicious holiday meal that can be created using only one pot, and Martha Stewart is the guest chef. Martha's tip for the home cooks and one assumes chefs is a little advice from Albert Einstein—make it simple but not too simple. The chefs have 45 minutes, and immediately start stretching the definition of "one pot" meal, but no matter. None of the chefs appear to make any major... More

'Top Chef' Season 5, Episode 5: Stefan Is a Snarky Button-Pusher, But Knows Turmeric

Much better episode this week. It started off with a bang: "Does the word lesbian mean anything to you?" That was Jamie talking about Stefan. And it went up from there. The quickfire challenge was righteous. Testing a chef's palate is totally legit. Stefan impressed me when he identified turmeric in the Thai green curry. But, and there's a big but here, nobody should get credit for identifying salt and pepper as ingredients in a dish. Would someone have gotten credit for air? Maybe, and that's scary. I was looking forward to the aspirants cooking for Gail's bridal shower. I know quite a few of those women, and they are not to be trifled with—they are in fact fierce. Daniel's... More

'Top Chef' Season 5, Episode 4: Accents Are Good for TV

My roommate's reaction: "Wait, why is he famous again?" I couldn't really remember either. And Rocco really didn't prove why he should be. The guest judge should be someone who the contestants respect, hopefully to the point of speechlessness and awe. As Fabio pointed out, "He's not really even Italian." More

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