Top Chef fans rejoice, the chefs are on a 21-city tour (just over halfway through) and like the two previous tours, it promises fans both entertainment and an abbreviated culinary education. Tickets are free for interactive demos where the Top Chefs themselves show how to make a meal from scratch. The chefs change as the tour travels across the country.
At the most recent stop in New York City, Ash Fulk (season six) and Nikki Cascone (season four) offered their expert kitchen tips and then answered no-holds-bar questions from participants, followed by a meet-and-greet.
The menu of the demos varies, each chef making his or her menu decisions based on local ingredients and often inspired by the city. Fulk, for instance, was influenced by New York hot dogs when he decided to made pork sausage with braised cabbage and homemade mustard. While Fulk led the demo, Cascone acted as his sous-chef, adding her two cents occasionally. She either chimed in with an extra tip, "Red cabbage likes a lot of sugar, green cabbage not as much," or an observation, "Ash, that sausage looks phallic." The next demo, Cascone led while Fulk helped.
Tastings of the dish are brought out (much to the audience's delight) by helper chefs who are all local aspiring chefs, recruited to lend a hand and learn from "the masters." The recipes are posted online after each city so participants can recreate the dish at home. "That's the great thing about this," Fulk said, "You can do it! And you're controlling what you put in your food."
After the demo, there is an audience Q&A. "It's crazy to be an adult and be plucked out of your life," Cascone responded to one question about the lifestyle adjustment. Fulk added, "No phone, no email, no communication with the outside world. We even had to ask permission to use the restroom." While they lamented the stress and anxiety, they clearly had a respect for the intensity, and for their fellow chefs. "There is an unspoken bond between all of us," Cascone said. (Aww.)
One audience member asked, "Would you do it all over again?" Cascone responded, "In a heartbeat." Let's see if the newest chefs of season seven in Washington D.C. starting June 16, will feel the same way.
Top Chef Tour Dates Left
Boston, MA: May 25 Denver, CO: May 30 Salt Lake City, UT: June 3 Seattle, WA: June 6 Portland, OR: June 9 San Francisco, CA: June 12 Los Angeles, CA: June 14 to 16 Irvine, CA: June 17 Phoenix, AZ: June 19