"Top Chef" hopeful Krissy Fuller mugs for the camera. Photographs by Jeff Martin.
“Don’t do it if you don’t want to win or don't think you can win,” Mike Isabella told a table of chefs Tuesday morning at Graffiato. Isabella had stopped by the second floor of his restaurant to chat briefly with the cooks hoping to score a spot on season ten of Bravo’s mega-hit culinary competition, Top Chef. But what about making it through the first casting call? Should hopefuls just be themselves, as traditional wisdom surrounding reality TV tryouts dictates? Isabella shook his head no and leaned backward on his heels. “You have to get yourself noticed.”
The open call for cooks began at 11, with a steady stream of cooks braving the rain to try for a spot on the show. Among them were an ambitious young chef at one of DC’s most beloved restaurants; a caterer from Baltimore who came on a whim; an embassy chef who regularly cooks for kings and presidents (he wouldn’t let us photograph him); and a Donald Trump–employed toque from West Palm Beach who flew here for the occasion. Check out the slideshow to meet some of the kitchen characters who may soon be showing up on your TV screen.