Monday, September 19, 2011

All Top Chef Interview with "Top Chef Just Desserts" Season 2 Chef Melissa Camacho Continued

Did you watch the first season of TCJD?
Briefly, but I was also familiar with Top Chef because my husband works with Angelo Sosa.

What did you do to prepare for the competition?
Is there really any way to prepare? I definitely researched new techniques and flavor profiles, but I wish I had done stress or sleep deprivation tests, that may have helped more.

In the very first challenge your partner was eliminated, and the other chefs seemed to shun you afterward. If you could go back is there anything you would change?.
I wish I had been more vocal about the obvious issues earlier on, instead of waiting until it was too late. I do think it was important to stand up for myself, but being that I was already upset about our performance, I let myself get a bit dramatic.

The Wonka challenge was fabulous! Did you taste any of the desserts? Yes, Carlos’ macaroons were amazing, as were Rebecca’s cupcakes.

Have you perfected the green doughnut?
I’d like to think so, but I’ll have to let our ilili fans decide that. I’m sending out the doughnuts as a special treat for tomorrow’s brunch.

Did you feel that the other chefs deliberately undermined you when they failed to provide your “stems” or was it just an honest oversight?
I definitely don’t feel anyone was being deliberate, but it was clear that the original plan went askew once everyone thought about themselves. I hadn’t planned my time to include drilling and setup, so it wasn’t ideal. At the end of the day, my doughnuts didn’t turn out how I wanted, and that’s all me.

Do you have a website?
No, but you can follow me and ilili on twitter. @ililirestaurant and @melissabcamacho

Have you remained in touch with any of the other chefs? Who is your best friend from the cast?
We all got along really well, to be honest. I’m closest to Vanarin, Rebecca and Megan. They’re so talented!

Describe your “signature dessert.”
Honestly, it changes constantly as I learn and try new things. Right now, I’d say it’s Chocolate Date Cake with Carob Cream, Coconut Sorbet and Chocolate Meringue. Though, based on Hubert’s reaction, maybe I should stick with the cardamom.

Is there anything else you would like to say to your fans?
You mean my mom? No, honestly I’m so grateful for all the people who’ve been sending me support. I just hope I didn’t let them down! Thank you, and I’ll buy you dessert.

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All Top Chef Interview with Craig Poirier Continued

What was the best thing about competing on the show?

The best part about competing on the show had to have been my fellow contestants. Everyone was so amazing and supportive. I also enjoyed meeting the judges and guest judges. Of course winning 25,000 dollars wasn't too bad either. Honestly, the whole experience was just incredible.

Who are your best friends from the cast?

I care so much for everyone on the show. Each cast member influenced me in a different way and I cant imagine going through this experience with a better group of people.

This was a very memorable episode – did you watch?

Even though this was the episode I was told to pack my tools, I was still so excited to watch. Getting to meet the cast of Willy Wonka was an experience I will never forget. It was really awesome to get to see the reactions on everyone else's face when we saw who the special guests were. It was also great to have a chance to see just how amazing the room of pure imagination turned out. Regardless of the outcome of the episode, I am so proud to say I was a part of that.

Did you feel like Sally was in jeopardy because she helped you?

It was heartbreaking to see Sally in the bottom. Sally helped many people in this challenge besides me and had her hands in a number of other projects as well. I am extremely grateful for all of her help and support. She is an amazing teacher and there is much I still have to learn from her. We have so much fun together as well, in fact I think the two of should have our own spin off show!

Did you taste the other desserts in the Wonka challenge? Which was your favorite?

I tried to taste as many of the other desserts as I could. I really enjoyed Rebecca's moon pies and I loved Carlos's peanut butter and jelly macaroons, and I don't just say that because I work with him now.

Where are you working now?

After finishing taping the show, I returned to Las Vegas and began working with Carlos at Holsteins in the Cosmopolitan.

Please describe your “signature dessert.”

I feel that it's still a bit early in my career to say that I have a "signature dessert", however one dessert that I am known for is a hot chocolate creme brûlée with toasted marshmallow. It's nothing crazy but it's really tasty and I find it to be quite comforting.

Craig is there anything else you would like to say to your fans?

I am so thankful for the support that I have received. Not many people have had the opportunity that I have had being on Top Chef, let alone at the beginning of their career. I am so grateful to everyone involved in putting this show together, and to the fans for watching and supporting all of us, not just me. This is just the beginning for me and I can't wait to see what the future has in store so stay tuned!

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Friday, June 24, 2011

All Top Chef Interview with "Rocco's Dinner Party" Week 2 Winner, Joel Gargano

ATC: Hi Joel

JG: How are you?

ATC: Did you watch the episode last night?

JG: I did. I watched with my wife at home.

ATC: Did anything surprise you?

JG: I was surprised by how well I came off. When you are there, you are kind of nervous and you don’t know how you will be portrayed or edited. I was happy with the way the episode turned out.

ATC: Everyone else was pretty sweaty and you looked calm.

JG: I didn’t feel calm at all.

ATC: You teach culinary arts at a high school?

JG: Yes I teach at West Haven High School in Connecticut.

ATC: That’s pretty unusual isn’t it? Is this a public high school?

JG: Yes. We have a culinary program open to all students from Freshmen to Seniors.

ATC: How long have you been teaching?

JG: I just finished my third year.

ATC: How many students are enrolled in the program?

JG: I have five classes I day, so I guess about a hundred or so students.

ATC: Did you tell your students that you would be on the show?

JG: I didn’t really tell them until the last couple of days of school. They were pretty excited about it.

ATC: Have you heard from them this morning?

JG: Yes, I must have answered about 50 or 60 e-mails this morning.

ATC: Where did you learn to cook?

JG: I grew up in the industry. My parents own a bakery in Connecticut. When I turned 18 I decided to go to Johnson and Wales University in Providence.

I’ve been cooking professionally for about 9 years. In addition to working at the high school I also cook full time. I am working about 80 hours a week during the school year. I like to do both.

ATC: Do you work at a restaurant?

JG: I work at Bar Bouche in Madison. It’s a French Bistro.

ATC: Have you received your check yet?

JG: No. I’m sure it will be here soon.

ATC: Have you made the Dijon sausage before?

JG: Yes, I have. That’s a recipe that I developed a while ago. When I made it at home I thought it was pretty good but in the context of the dish, I had to agree with Rocco. It definitely needed more Dijon.

ATC: How did you learn about the opportunity to participate on the show?

JG: I applied for “Chopped” about a year and I half ago. Although I wasn’t cast in the show, I remained on the e-mail list and applied for this show.

ATC: Do you watch any other Bravo shows?

JG: Yes, “Top Chef.” I'm a big Top Chef fan. I've watched every season. I can’t really get into the Real Housewives.

ATC: Besides Padma, did you recognize any of the other dinner guests?

JG: Yes, definitely D.L. When I got home I googled everyone else!

ATC: Joel, we are almost out of time, is there anything else you would like to say to your fans?

JG: I have fans?

ATC: Of course, you are a Bravolebrity now.

JG: Yes, I’d like say thank you very much and hopefully in the future when I open my own restaurant, they will check it out.

ATC: Thank you Joel.

JG: Thank you.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

ATC Interview with JJ Johnson Continued

ATC: Did you watch the episode last night?

JJ: Of course I did.

ATC: Who watched with you?

JJ: My mom, my dad, friends, family.

ATC: Have you received your check yet?

JJ: I have not. I will be checking the mailbox every day at about 1:00 until it arrives.

ATC: How will you spend the money?

JJ: You’re gonna laugh, but I want to take $20,000 and turn it into a million.

I’m gonna invest into some products that I’ve been working on and that I believe in. A food social network platform called I’m working on a healthy lifestyle drink containing oatmeal called OMJ.

These are products that I’ve been working on for a while. I don’t want to go to investors, I want to fund these myself.

I would also like to donate some of my money to my dad’s non-profit basketball program.

ATC: Do you watch Top Chef?

JJ: Of course I watch Top Chef!

ATC: Did you know the celebrities at the dinner party?

JJ: Yeah, of course I recognized Marcus and Kelly. Everyone else I recognized. I might not have known them. It was funny when I watching with my friends, they were like, “Wow, you cooked for this guy?" Or “You cooked for her?”

ATC: How did you learn about the opportunity to compete on the show?

JJ: I was trying out for Chopped and they didn’t put me on the show for some reason. The same casting agency sent me an e-mail and application for another show. I wasn’t sure what it was for, I thought maybe Top Chef.

I sent it in, they called me back, I had about four castings and I cooked for them. They called me about two days before I had to arrive for the show.

ATC: I have a feeling Chopped will be calling you back now.

JJ: I’m not going on.

ATC: JJ, we are almost out of time. Is there anything else you would like to say to your fans?

JJ: Yes, look out for Chef JJ, follow me on twitter, friend me on facebook and I will be opening a pop-up restaurant in NYC.

Thank you JJ.

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Friday, June 10, 2011

All Top Chef Interview with Naomi Pomeroy - Continued

ATC: What was the best thing about appearing on the show?

NP: Meeting new lifelong colleagues and friends.

ATC: Which was your favorite challenge?

NP: Probably the quickfire with my Dad. I mean, it was awesome for us to all see our family- after having been gone so long, and been through so much. We all were able to go out to dinner together after that challenge and it was very sweet getting to know everyone

ATC: Tell us about your restaurant.

NP: Beast is a tiny 24 seat fixed menu restaurant. We do 6 courses- and the menu changes each week. It is only me, my sous-chef, 2 cooks, and 2 servers.. It's a small operation. A family really. I love it. We are all really happy and self expressed- and it shows in our food I think.

ATC: Congratulations on your very strong showing.

NP: Thanks. It was really fun, and I was happy to have made $25,000 for my charity! Honestly, I wouldn't have done so well if it wasn't for the support and encouragement of Traci and Floyd. I really felt like they were a huge support and I really appreciated getting to know them, and all the other chefs.

ATC: What are you working on now?

NP: I am just back to cooking everyday!! It's nice. I go to the farmers market, haul produce around in my car- talk to farmers- It's all very glamorous !! (Kidding). It's my life and I love it. I hug my kid a lot..and Just built a chicken coop in my back-yard .... (soooooo Portland!) hahaha

ATC: Chef Naomi, is there anything else you would like to say to your fans?

NP: Just that I appreciate the support through the show. I feel like most of my fans probably really love cooking and simple delicious food.. .I say keep it up! Cooking is about practice- and patience..and I want to encourage people to know about their food, connect to it, and connect to their families through it...