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We did some digging to find dirt on the 17 cheftestants. Here's what you should know before tuning into Top Chef DC.

Photograph courtesy of Bravo TV.
Alex Reznik

Age:
33

Lives in:
Hollywood, by way of Brooklyn and Paramus.

Job:
Executive chef at Ivan Kane’s Cafe Was, which the Los Angeles Times calls a “complex of indulgence,” with a French menu offering caviar and soufflés and an extravagant wine list.

Used to work at:
The Vegas branch of the high-rolling French institution Lutèce, now closed.

Education:
Le Cordon Bleu in Las Vegas.

Gets around in:
A ’65 Mustang.

Craziest customer:
A regular at Cafe Was who “orders French onion soup without onions or cheese.”

Yep, he’s a chef:
“How do I know Alex? Alex is ‘that’ friend of my husband,” vents a writer in the Paramus Buzz. “You know the one that drives you nuts because they stay out drinking all night and call at 3:30 AM with a drunken apology. Yup, he’s ‘that’ friend.”

What he thinks of fellow L.A. cheftestant Amanda Baumgarten:
“She can be my sous chef anytime.”

Don’t get him mixed up with:
Alex Reznik, Ukrainian actor.

Reminds us of:
If Tom Colicchio, Michael Voltaggio, and Stefan Richter could have a love child, it’d look like him.

What he always has on hand:
He tells iVillage that his fridge is always stocked with unsalted butter, salami, capers, stinky cheese, and a freezer bottle of Vodka.

Scorecard:
5 points for restaurant experience, 2 points for love of indulgence, 1 point for being “that friend” and managing to hold down a job. Total: 8 points.


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Posted at 02:14 PM/ET, 06/16/2010 | Permalink | Comments ()
We did some digging to find dirt on the 17 cheftestants. Here's what you should know before tuning into Top Chef DC.

Photograph courtesy of Bravo TV.
Andrea Curto-Randazzo

Age: 39

Lives in: Miami.

Job: Co-owns the eclectic neighborhood spot Talula with husband Frank Randazzo. Also oversees the kitchen at the Water Club, which seats more than 1,100 people, and runs a catering company. Mom to three girls, ages 3, 4, and 7.

Education: Graduated from Culinary Institute of America with honors.

You may have seen her in: Food & Wine—she was on the esteemed Best New Chefs list ten years ago.

How she describes her cooking: “My food doesn’t do backflips on the plate . . . It’s the kind of food that when you’re done with it you need a piece of bread to sop it all up with.”

Has a weakness for: Caviar and margaritas.

Hates: Eggplants, peas, and mock bacon.

Pop-culture tastes: According to Facebook, she’s a fan of the Beastie Boys, Nirvana, Interview With the Vampire, and The Colbert Report.

Culinary hero: Alice Waters. “She was the first woman chef to look up to and appreciate.”

How she describes her time on Top Chef: “It was an interesting experience. I would never do it again, never.”

Advice she has for culinary students: “Watch fewer food shows.”

Scorecard: 5 points for owning a restaurant, 2 points for toughness, 2 points for multitasking ability, minus 1 point for lack of excitement about the show. Total: 8 points.

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Posted at 10:36 AM/ET, 06/16/2010 | Permalink | Comments ()
We did some digging to find dirt on the 17 cheftestants. Here's what you should know before tuning into Top Chef DC.

Photograph courtesy of Bravo TV.
Lynne Gigliotti

Age: 51 but looks about 37.

Lives in: Native of Philly, lives in Highland, New York.

Job: Assistant professor, Culinary Institute of America.

Also has experience as: Chef/owner of two restaurants and a catering business; consultant to Whole Foods; fish cook for Jean-Louis Palladin’s restaurant Jean-Louis at the Watergate Hotel in DC; corporate chef to a collection of English-style pubs; and tournant (chef who can work all stations) at the Ritz-Carlton in Atlanta under Guenter Seeger.

Super-chef power: Baking certificate from CIA. Most cheftestants flounder in any pastry-making challenge.

Nasty streak: According to Facebook, her favorite quote is “Shut your pie hole,” and she’s the author of gofuckyourself.com. Also loves authors Tom Robbins and Carl Hiaasen. Looks like there’ll be lots of bleeps this season.

The softer side: She enjoys reading, theater, classical music . . . and graffiti.

She’ll do well if an episode sponsor is: Bisquick. She says she used to make recipes from the pancake mix as a kid.

Says she was inspired by: Carla Hall from season five. “I liked her energy,” she says.

Reminds us of: The fierce attitude of Jennifer Carroll on season six, who once said she has made men cry in the kitchen.

Score: 5 points for her varied résumé, 2 for being well rounded, 2 for baking experience, 1 for feistiness, minus 1 for years away from the quick pace of a restaurant kitchen. Total: 9 points.

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Posted at 09:38 AM/ET, 06/16/2010 | Permalink | Comments ()
We did some digging to find dirt on the 17 cheftestants. Here's what you should know before tuning into Top Chef DC.

Photograph courtesy of Bravo TV.

Tracey Bloom

Age: 33

Lives in: Atlanta, but rocks an upstate-New York accent (she grew up in Shortsville, New York).

Job: Executive chef at Table 1280 at the Woodruff Arts Center. Simple dishes with just the slightest southern twang.

How she plans her menu: “Whatever I like to eat, my customers will eat,” she says in a video on Bravo. There are two options for dinner: take it or leave it.

She bats:
Righty and lefty. As in, she can cook both sweet and savory. Her first post-culinary-school job was as a pastry chef. In Top Chef world, pastry skills are like having a superhero power.

Known for: “Edgy desserts,” as Atlanta Magazine describes them. Case in point: walnut spice cake with bay-leaf ice cream.

Report card: “ . . . her cooking is as solid as cooking gets. In a city that boasts very few female culinary stars, that’s actually saying something. Her training shows in every pristine bite; I just wish she’d let her hair down a little . . . ”—Meredith Ford Goldman, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, on Table 1280 after Bloom took over.

Reminds us of: Jesse Sandlin from season six.

Scorecard: 2 points for versatility, 2 points for critical praise. Total: 4 points.
 

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Posted at 11:07 AM/ET, 06/15/2010 | Permalink | Comments ()
We did some digging to find dirt on the 17 cheftestants. Here's what you should know about Tamesha Warren and Stephen Hopcraft before tuning into Top Chef DC.

Tamesha Warren

Age: 24, the youngest on the show.

Lives in: DC! She grew up in Barbados.

Job: Sous-chef at the Oval Room, number 7 on our list of the 100 Very Best Restaurants.

Learned to cook: First from her grandmother, starting at age 9, then she got a degree from the Art Institute of New York City.

What she and Angelo have in common: She trained at Jean Georges in New York.

Her Zen place is: The kitchen. “For me, [cooking] is a way of escaping.”

Sign she’s not intimidated by her young age: “I know my food will always be on point,” she says.

Reminds us of: Radhika Desai from season five.

Scorecard: 4 points for her résumé, 1 for confidence, 1 for being the sole DC-based contestant. Total: 6 points.

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Posted at 01:05 PM/ET, 06/14/2010 | Permalink | Comments ()
We did some digging to find dirt on the 17 cheftestants. Here's what you should know before tuning into Top Chef DC.

Photograph courtesy of Bravo TV.
Angelo Sosa

Age: 35.

Hails from: Durham, Connecticut, which he describes as a “cow-tippin’ town.” Works in Manhattan.

Job: Owns Xie Xie, a sandwich shop that turns out Asian-accented lobster rolls and fortune cookies with yuzu cream. He hopes to expand it to many cities, including Washington.

Gael Greene moment: Speaking of that lobster roll, Sosa muses: “The flavors are pounding—like getting into the ring with Mike Tyson.”

Reminds us of: Season-two winner Ilan Hall.

Education: Manchester Community College, Culinary Institute of America.

Mentor: Jean-Georges Vongerichten, whom he worked with for five years. Sosa was executive sous-chef at both Jean Georges and the original Spice Market.

Moment he’d like to forget:
He once accidentally set veal bones on fire at Jean Georges, causing the dining room of Trump International Hotel to be evacuated.

Praise from on high:
Alain Ducasse has kind words for Sosa, whom he put in charge of Spoon Food & Wine in Paris: “The cuisine of Angelo Sosa tells a story—his story—in a new style of his own, which is at once uninhibited, bold, arousing, and inspiring.” Although Ducasse sounds as if he’s narrating a cologne ad, it’s still pretty badass.

Point at which his publicist should’ve shushed him: Sosa tells the Village Voice that his big dream is “to be a household name” and “exploit” the sandwich-shop concept.

Scorecard: 8 points for years working with the big guys, 3 for being the resident hottie, 3 for ambition and self-assuredness, minus 1 for Jersey Shore levels of hair gel. Total: 13 points.

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Posted at 08:18 AM/ET, 06/11/2010 | Permalink | Comments ()
We did some digging to find dirt on the 17 cheftestants. Here's what you should know before tuning into Top Chef DC.

Photograph courtesy of Bravo TV.

Kelly Liken

Age: 33

Lives in: Vail, Colorado.

Job: Chef/owner of the six-year-old Restaurant Kelly Liken—yep, she’s bold enough to name the place after herself—with her husband, Rick Colomitz. The restaurant’s Web site describes the food as “seasonal American cuisine that relies heavily on locally produced and cultivated products. The menu changes frequently to offer the highest quality ingredients of each season.” Sound familiar?

Lots of customers order:
Elk carpaccio with bulgur-tabbouleh salad and mustard aioli, and the sticky-bun sundae with caramel, pecans, and vanilla ice cream.

Education: The Culinary Institute of America, the Harvard of culinary schools. And she has an undergraduate physics degree. 

Trophy shelf includes:
Valedictorian at the CIA, two James Beard Award nominations for Best Chef Southwest (2009 and 2010), named as one of Bon Appétit magazine’s next generation of women chefs.

Small-screen, big-stage experience: Last month, she went up against—and lost to—Jose Garces on Iron Chef America in Battle Blue Cheese. 

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Posted at 09:29 AM/ET, 06/10/2010 | Permalink | Comments ()