Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Guest Post: Saunter's Fantasy Top Chef Draft Notes

With the Top Chef Fantasy Draft so early on in the season, most cheftestants have not yet seen the spotlight. There is no way to tell who is generally good (save Angelo, unfortunately) and there may be critical faults that haven’t shown thus far. That being said, I spent a lot more time studying up for the draft, digging around to get a little more background on the picks. The following are my notes that I used in the draft. Who knows if it will help, but it will at least be amusing to look back at once we do know more about the cheftestants. I’m happy with my picks, as no matter where one was in the draft, you never know everything about the chefs you chose.

These notes on the cheftestants are in order from first to worst, including those eliminated in the first two episodes:

Kenny Gilbert - 36 - Decent, with variety and leadership - Won First Speed contest, Elimination 1
His cuisine ranges from American Regional, Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese, Italian, Middle Eastern, Indian, Native American, Moroccan and African. Chef de Cuisine at the young age of 23 at The Grill at The Ritz-Carlton in Amelia Island, FL. Good at teamwork/training. Makes very complex dishes.

Angelo Sosa - 35 - Preppy - WINNER QF1 & EC 1, WinQF2 (w/Tracey)
Worked at Jean Georges, Dune and Spice Market, where he served as Executive Sous Chef. Shortly thereafter, he was invited by Alain Ducasse to create a special seasonal menu at his Paris restaurant Spoon Food & Wine. Owns a sandwich shop. Says it’s a mental game and is good at it. Knows what judges want.

Kevin Sbraga - 31 - Won First Speed contest, Elimination 1
A self-proclaimed “beast in the kitchen” with unrivaled knife skill. Winner of Best Meat Presentation at Bocuse d’Or USA. This African American, Italian chef declares he’s the “Barack Obama of the cooking game” and wants to prove that “he can.” Seems Gangsta.
Has watched previous seasons. Clean and simple American “with french technique” while having fun.

Timothy Dean - 39 - Looks good - Won First Speed contest, lowest E1 (strong group)
12 years working on and off with the late, great chef, Jean-Louis Palladin; worked alongside other notable chefs including Alain Ducasse, Roberto Donna, Guenter Seeger and Patrick Clark
“Plans to stay true to the game” has flavours and philosophy of food. Has studied previous seasons.

Alex Reznik - 33 - Good, won Elimination 1
Works Las Vegas at the legendary, five-star restaurant, Lutecé. During his tenure as chef at multiple Bally's/Paris resort restaurants, Alex met famed nightlife entrepreneur, Ivan Kane. The two discovered a shared philosophy for great food and impeccable service. Alex's philosophy is to marry local, seasonal ingredients with classic French techniques to create honest, Californian bistro cuisine. A bit cocky about tasting and replicating dishes, but could be good in challenges.

Lynne Gigliotti - 51 - Assistant Professor, Culinary Institute of America - Meep!
she teaches Cuisines of Europe and the Mediterranean. Single-handedly built her catering and consulting business from a party for 10 people into a half a million dollar upscale & @Watergate - good for challenges like wedding/tastings. Interested in Sustainable agriculture and seafood.

Kelly Liken - 33 - Chick with Cowboy boots - Winner EC2 Lunches
STUPID - A small town girl at heart, she has passed up on offers from heavyweight chefs including Charlie Trotter and Daniel Boulud to stay in Colorado where she feels grounded. Kelly cooks seasonal American cuisine with a strong commitment to locally sourced organic ingredients. Physics major. Has seen the show. Wants to cook with her heart. Has to remind self to “be me”. Can’t handle the heat?

Arnold Myint - 32 - Bow-tie gay - Not really.
Inspired by his mother who has run a successful restaurant for over 30 years. Mixologist and event planner. From Thailand and Burma. Has 3 restaurants. Failed at acting, so he became a chef. WTF.

Tiffany Derry - 26 - Sassy - Could be the annoying stick-along
A native Texan, definitely flaunts the “Don’t Mess with Texas” attitude. She began working in the kitchen when she was 15 at IHOP. Soul - Homey with a Twist. Needs to taste good.
She competed in ACF competitions to help pay for culinary school. Dijon, Creole mustard, champagne vinegar, kosher salt and Creole seasoning are the five ingredients she always has on hand. She could be too dependent on these items. Doesn’t think she can cook with garbage...

Andrea Curto-Randazzo - 39 - Not really.
Has worked at a few restaurants and had honuors from CIA and a few magazines. “Don’t know what the judges are looking for” and thinks more of herself than she can actually do.

Tamesha Warren - 24 - Thin black - Her age could be problematic
Worked at the Jean Georges restaurant in NYC and was honored with gold and silver medals from the American Culinary Federation. Interested in playing with molecular elements, Tamesha cooks modern American food with French and Asian. “Good palate?”

Ed Cotton - 32 - in low
Worked at many restaurants across the country. “Believes cooking is in the blood.” Down to earth and passionate about cooking.

Amanda Baumgarten - 27 - Could be good in low bit ep2
Worked at four different Michelin-starred restaurants including La Tante Claire and Le Gavroche in London and Melisse and Patina in L.A. From there, she went onto become Executive Sous Chef of Paperfish before joining Ford’s Filling Station as Executive Sous Chef. Amanda is a gifted butcher with a distinct sense of flavor and style. Great for challenges. Has messy plates without much thought in ep1, and used cooking sherry in ep 2.

Stephen Hopcraft - 40 - Potential, but can he handle the heat? No sharp knives, meat too thin. Loser in EC1
Playful twist on classic dishes to create cutting-edge food. Has twitches/nerves in interview. Thinks his own self will be his undoing.

Tracey Bloom 33 - Fat. Looks pretty fail - NO (won QF2 with Angelo)
She’s said to be a pastry chef “Modern American” - whatever I like to eat. Local Produce.

Jacqueline Lombard - 33 - ditz says “we’re already tight, good friends” - Loser in EC1
Has a “chic, seasonal and sustainable approach to her work”. More about tasting and reviewing than cooking. Educator and event planner. Doesn’t memorize recipes and acts like the blonde she is.

John Somerville - 42 - Creepy Hippie - NO
His philosophy is “spreading the infectious spirit of cooking!” Only ever worked in the same fail restaurant in MI. Passion and Palate. “Knows what good food tastes like?!” Bold, concentrated flavours, allowing ingredients to “sing their own song”. No culinary school training.


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