Friday, December 21, 2012

ATC Interview with Danyele McPherson, continued

ATC:  This is Laura Kluvo from All Top Chef and I'm on the phone with Danyele McPherson.  Hi Danyele!

DM:  Hello.

ATC:  Have you watched the previous seasons of the show?

DM:  I have watched a few.  I did not watch all of them, I actually just got cable.

ATC:  Did you think it was fair to bring back chefs from previous seasons?

DM:  I did recognize the chefs that were brought back.  At first I thought they had an advantage, but after a couple of challenges I realized that they really didn't know what was going to happen.  They were in the same boat as the rest of us.

ATC:  Did you watch last night's episode?

DM:  I did.

ATC:  It seemed that you never got any momentum going.  Was it nerves?

DM:  I never imagined myself on any TV show.  My nature is to be a planner, a lister.  That is how my life works.  But that doesn't work on Top Chef.  On the show, we have to sort of cook on the fly - that's what makes it fun to watch.  So I was a little out of my element.

ATC:  If you could go back, is there anything that you would do differently?

DM:  I feel like at the Last Chance Kitchen, I was finally myself.  I should have had more fun, and just been myself.

ATC:  Who are your best friends from the cast?

DM:  Eliza, Crissy, Tyler, Bart.

ATC:  Which was your favorite challenge?

DM:  I really liked the Reynolds Wrap challenge.  There have been challenges where some chefs will have an advantage.  I felt like for this challenge, the playing field was even.  So that was the most fun.

ATC:  Tell us about your restaurant.  Are you still at The Grape?

DM:  Yes.  When I started the show, I was a sous chef and now I have been promoted to Chef de Cuisine.  It's just a great place to work.  I returned from the show with a real appreciation for the people who I work with.  It's like a family.  We are celebrating our 40th anniversary and there are people who have been working there for 17 years.  I really love it there.  It's a Texas institution.

ATC:  What is the most popular item on the menu?

DM:  Well we change the menu every month, so it's kind of hard to say.  There are a few "bistro classics" that we keep.  A lot of people order the steak frites.  I would say this month the most popular is probably the redfish.  We are doing the redfish with over a cornbread puree and some ridiculous spicy collard greens with house made bacon-onion jam.  That's probably the most popular item.

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

DM:  Yes, thanks everyone who has supported me.  It doesn't have to be the end for me, please
vote to save me, and get me back in the game.

ATC:  Thanks Danyele!

DM:  Thank you!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

All Top Chef Interview with Eliza Gavin, Continued

This is Laura Kluvo from All Top Chef and I'm on the phone with Chef Eliza Gavin.  Hi Eliza!

EG:  Hi Laura.

ATC:  Did you watch the previous seasons of the show?

EG:  I did sporadically. Season Two and Season Six religiously, but having my own restaurant and a family does not leave a lot of time for TV.

ATC:  Tell us about your family.

EG:  I am very fortunate to have a wonderful and supportive husband as well as a three-and-a-half year old son who is a great skier, great golfer, and an awesome kid.  While I was in Seattle, I wrote him a letter every day.

ATC:  Wait.  Can he read?

EG:  No.  Not yet!

ATC:  What did you do to prepare for the competition?

EG:  I looked at past seasons and thought about what I would do for those challenges, both the Quickfire and the elimination challenges.  I tested new recipes at the restaurant.  I worked on presentation.  I memorized recipes and ratios.  I did everything I could think of, I reviewed my own cookbooks.  There were a lot of notecards involved.  But honestly, there is really no way to prepare for this experience.  It didn't help!

ATC:  Did you watch last night's episode?

EG:  Yes I did.

ATC:  Was there anything that surprised you as you watched?

EG:  Let's see..I was surprised that they were so hard on Lizzie.  I tasted her dish and it was really good, so that surprised me.  Lizzie, Micah and I were way over in the corner, so we didn't see many of the other dishes.

ATC:  If you could go back, would you do anything differently in this challenge?

EG:  With the carrots, I was just trying to add some color to the plate - a little sweetness.  In retrospect I would do something like a watercress salad with maybe some Washington apples for a little tartness.  I still would have sliced the elk.  That was definitely the right way to serve it.  No question in my mind.  I might have done something different with the sausage.

ATC:  Who is your best friend from the cast?

EG:  Lizzie and I were roommates for a while.  She is great.  Once I got to the elim house I became close with Chrissy Camba.  We played a lot of tennis - and Tyler is a fellow Coloradan so we connected too.

ATC:  Tell us about your restaurant.

EG:  I have a small bistro in Telluride Colorado.  Beautiful Telluride.  We have 50 seats.  We do modern bistro cuisine so it is simple food served in an intimate atmosphere.  We have an incredible staff and wonderful support here in Telluride.

ATC:  Are you open year round?

EG:  No, we close in the spring and the fall.

ATC:  What is the most popular item on your menu?

EG:  Probably my sausage plate.  There are five different kinds of sausage on it.

ATC:  Yum.  Sounds like low-carb too.

EG:  Yeah.

ATC:   What are you working on now?

EG:  Right now we have just opened for the season so we are working on getting everyone trained - We have some new employees - and putting out the best possible food.

ATC:  Have you become a local celebrity?

EG:  You know, it is such a small town, I think half the town already knew me.  Everyone has been very supportive and wished me lots of good luck.  On Tuesday, the mayor issued me a proclamation, so that was really fun.  It was nice.

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

EG:  Top Chef, although it was a challenging experience, I had a great time.  I met a lot of talented chefs.  It has opened a lot of doors for me.   I am doing more stages, including with Kelly Liken.  I am proud to have been a part of it.  Thank you to all of my fans.

Click here to save your favorite chef.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

All Top Chef Interview with CJ Jacobson, Continued

ATC:  This is Laura Kluvo from All Top Chef and I'm on the phone with CJ Jacobson.  Hi CJ.

CJ:  Hi Laura.

ATC:  How did you learn about the opportunity to return to Top Chef?

CJ:  I was actually cooking for a client in Seattle and I heard rumors from different people that they had been asked to return to the show and I thought, "Hmmmmm I wish they would ask me..." Sure enough they did.  I basically returned home, packed, and came right back to Seattle.

ATC:  How did this experience compare to season 3?

CJ:  This experience compared in many ways.  I figured that since I had already been on, that I would not be caught up in all of the drama, but honestly it was exactly the same.

In terms of production after seven seasons, it was much tighter.  No more eight hours in the stew room. I was happy that the challenges were more culinarily-driven rather than like skeet shooting like last season.

ATC:  Please fill us in on what you have been doing since we last saw you in season 3.

CJ:  I had the opportunity to work at a gastropub in Santa Monica called The Yard.  I was there for three years.  I kind of got tired of that and wanted to learn to become a better chef, so I got an apprenticeship at Noma - voted the best restaurant in the world for three years in a row.    It was exactly what I was looking for.  I was there for three and a half months.

After that I had a lot of opportunities.  Right now I am consulting for three different restaurants in Los Angeles - The Bowery on Sunset, Rosewood Tavern on Fairfax.  I am currently working at The Mercantile.

In about a month and a half, I will be opening a place called Girasol which will be very seasonal, very farmer's market-driven stuff.  My version of California food.

ATC:  What is the best thing that has happened to you as a result of your appearance on Top Chef?

CJ:  Honestly, my favorite thing...I was on the show in LA called Jonesy's Jukebox with Steve Jones from The Sex Pistols.

ATC:  Have you watched all of the seasons of the show?

CJ:  No.  I watched the Voltaggio season pretty thoroughly.  I have probably seen about five episodes of each season.

ATC:  Did you watch last night's episode?

CJ:  I did indeed.  I watched with Stefan and Brooke.

ATC:  Was there anything that surprised you as you watched?

CJ:  One thing - I was sitting with Brooke and she was concerned that she would be shown crying with another guy and she was sitting and watching with her husband - but they only showed that in the preview.... so she was lucky...

I was not at all surprised by my critique, my stupid arrogant critique...

ATC:  If you could go back, is there anything that you would do differently?

CJ:  Absolutely.  I was too confident this time.  It might have clouded my judgment.  In hindsight, of course, the sous vide lamb was a big mistake.  Also I had about 20 different dishes that I could have done with pickles.  I just went with something that Tyler and I could execute well.  I could have something much more creative with the pickles.

ATC:  What do you like to do in your spare time?

CJ:  I love to work out.  I try to go to the gym five days a week.  That pretty much takes care of all of my spare time.  Honestly it's all about food.  In my spare time I keep cooking and developing new dishes.  I read cookbooks....

Ummm... I like shoes.

ATC:  We watched Last Chance Kitchen and saw that you both survived.  Hopefully we will see more from you at the end of the season.

CJ:  Stay tuned.

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

CJ:  I would like to say that I appreciate all of my fans.  Please follow me on twitter and Facebook and watch what happens.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

All Top Chef Interview with Tyler Wiard, Continued

ATC:  This is Laura Kluvo from All Top Chef and I'm on the phone with Tyler Wiard.  Hi Tyler.

TW:  Hello.

ATC:  Did you watch last night's episode?

TW:  I did.

ATC:  Was there anything that surprised you?

TW:  To be honest with you, probably not.  It was just as I remembered.

ATC:  If you could go back, is there anything that you would do differently?

TW:  I've had a long time to think about this one and No, I don't have any regrets.  I have friends who have said that we should have gone with the chowder instead of the pork burger, but it's like Vegas you know?  You can't go back, you have to play the hand that you are dealt.

ATC:  You were in the top four for the previous challenge and it seemed like you had some creative ideas for this challenge.  Did CJ listen to your ideas at all?

TW:  His energy and his confidence about the pork burger were so positive that I just said, "Okay, let's do it."

ATC:  Did you watch the previous seasons of Top Chef?

TW:  Some of them, not all.

ATC:  Did you recognize CJ and the other returning chefs?

TW:  Absolutely.  I recognized CJ, Josie and Stefan.

ATC:  Do you think it was fair to bring back chefs from previous seasons?

TW:  Fair or not fair, it doesn't matter.  This is Top Chef.  There are going to be twists and turns and unexpected events.  Honestly I loved it.  I was like, "Okay, this is fun.  This is different and I get to be a part of it."

ATC:  Who is your best friend from the cast?

TW:  Eliza Gavin and CJ.  Especially Eliza.  We both live in Colorado and it is just nice to have someone from my state to talk to.

ATC:  Tell us about Elway's.

TW:  Elway's is a steak house.  No two ways about it.  That is the brand.  We don't consider ourselves to be the typical classic steak house though.  We certainly will give you a great steak, asparagus and a shrimp cocktail but we also have some very innovative side dishes that are not only seasonal and local but you will see that these items are much more creative than the typical steak house.

ATC:  What is the most popular item on your menu?

TW:  To be honest, it is the 8-oz filet.  It has been the favorite for a long time.  People still enjoy red meat and it is a prime piece of steak.  Also, you want to save room for our delicious sides.

ATC:  In addition to cooking, what are your other interests?

TW:  I really enjoy being a father.  My daughter Liliana, is 22 months.  I consider myself to be an "old dad" but I am enjoying the rewards of fatherhood.  There is nothing better.

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

TW:  I definitely want to thank all of my friends, my family, my fans and the fellow chefs who have supported me.  Thank you for all of the positive feedback - not only in my career but also in my personal life.  Thank you all.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

All Top Chef Interview with Carla Pellegrino

ATC:  This is Laura Kluvo from All Top Chef and I'm on the phone with Chef Carla Pellegrino - Hi Carla!

CP:  Hi Laura, How are you?

ATC:  Did you watch the episode last night?

CP:  Yes, I did when I got home last night, because I knew I had these interviews!

ATC:  Was there anything that surprised you as you watched?

CP:  No, it was pretty much how it happened.

ATC:  Have you watched the previous seasons of Top Chef?

CP:  Never.  I have never watched.  I know it was a big problem, and I know it was my homework.  I was opening up two new restaurants and I know I should have watched.  They actually sent me the videos, but I did not have time to watch.

ATC:  Who were your best friends from the cast?

CP:  Kuniko and Jeff.

ATC:  If you could go back, what would you do differently?

CP:  I would have done my homework.  I don't like the competition side of anything.  This was more of a business decision.  If I had watched, I would have realized that this is a game.  You need to strategize There is a lot of game playing.  I am a horrible player.  I don't gamble.  I thought, "I can cook, that will be enough."

ATC:  And what about the squab?  Is there something you would do differently?  How did you end up with the squab?

CP:  Actually I was avoiding the squab.  I tried to get the steak and then the onion soup.  CJ was really playing the game  They decided to give me the squab and I didn't stand up to them.  I actually hate to cook small birds and I know that you can't serve it on the bone, but there is no time to bone all of these birds.  So I did the best I could.

ATC:  Tell us about your restaurants?

CP:  I have opened The Meatball Spot.  I think I might have too many locations.  We have been serving about 1000 people every night.  We have been getting a lot of celebrities.  It is located out in the middle of nowhere.  It is hard to get there.  I think the show has helped to get the word out.  So, I have to thank Bravo.

This restaurant is going to be the first of many.  Now I just have to learn to roll meatballs faster.

ATC:  What was the best thing about appearing on Top Chef?

CP:  Well television is a very powerful tool.  It is so soon, but I can definitely see that this is bringing more business to my restaurants.  I expect that there will be even more opportunities in the future.

ATC:  Have you been recognized in the street?

CP:  I was a little bit of a local celebrity already.  Now it is much more though yes.  I have been posing for alot of photos and signing autographs.  A lot of kids actually.  And my followers on twitter are unbelievable - I picked up 20,000 followers since appearing on the show.  So I know that appearing on the show has brought a lot of popularity.

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

CP:  Yes.  Please vote for me!  Hopefully you will see me back on Bravo.  Thank you to all of my fans.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

All Top Chef Interview with Chrissy Camba - Continued

ATC:  This is Laura Kluvo from All Top Chef and I'm on the phone with Chrissy Camba - Hi Chrissy!

CC:  Hi, how are you?

ATC:  Did you watch the episode last night?

CC:  I did.

ATC:  Was there anything that surprised you as you watched?

CC:  I was surprised that I was eliminated!  I was surprised that they didn't show me crying more.  I was a hot mess.

ATC:  Did you watch the previous seasons of Top Chef?

CC:  I did.

ATC:  So did you recognize the returning chefs?

CC:  Yes, I remembered all three of them.

ATC:  Do you think it was fair to bring back the former contestants?

CC:  No!  I was like, "Yeah.  I made to Seattle!"  When they added three more competitors I was really bummed out.

ATC:  In the "Last Chance Kitchen" you took a second attempt at the salad.  Did you nail it the second time?

CC:  Yes.  After I was eliminated, I didn't know what was going to be thrown at me in the Last Chance Kitchen, but when I saw the ingredients I knew it was time to try the salad again.  I thought, "I know how to make a salad.  I'm going to take their criticisms and make it the right way."

During the elimination challenge I specifically asked the Canlis brothers about the dressing and they described it as a thick sauce.  So I made it like a thick Caesar dressing.  I think it was a miscommunication.  If I had known it was a lighter dressing, I would have made a lighter dressing.

ATC:  Tell us about your restaurant.

CC:  Bar Pastoral.  It's located in Lakeview in Chicago.  It's a 50-seat bar.  We have a cheese bar and a wine bar.  We also serve small and no-so-small plates.

ATC:  What is the most popular item on the menu?

CC:  As of yesterday, it was the Rush Creek Reserve Chicago Style.  Rush Creek Reserve is a seasonal cheese.  Kind of ooey gooey and wrapped in bark.  When I tasted it, it reminded me of a hot dog, so I did a play on the Chicago-style dog with the Rush Creek Reserve.

ATC:  What was the best thing about appearing on Top Chef?

CC:  This really pushed me to be confident in myself.   I enjoyed the challenge.  We all work in restaurants and cooking becomes a habit.  On Top Chef we didn't know what to expect.

ATC:  Have you been recognized in the street?

CC:  Not so much in the street but in the restaurant.  Often I will look out and see patrons waving at me.  I will think "Do I know this person?"  I'll started freaking out a little thinking "I don't remember them..."  And then they will say that they saw me on Top Chef and I am like "Oh great.  Thank you!"

ATC:  Who are your best friends from the cast?

CC:  Kuni. Kuniko.  I got to hang out with her and she is so talented and really just the nicest person I have ever met in my life.  I know her English isn't perfect - she is just learning English, but the things she says are just so cute.  Like in the Last Chance Kitchen she says she has "I have two butterflies in my stomach."  She is just so humble.  She is so skilled but she doesn't brag about it like so many other chefs.  I really like her.

ATC:  What are you working on right now?

CC:  Well Bar Pastoral just opened so I am concentrating on that right now, but there are some other opportunities that hopefully will come to fruition in the next couple of years.

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

CC:  Yes, please save me!  Can I say that?  Yes, please save me.

Also, check me out on Facebook and Twittter.

ATC:  Thank you Chef Chrissy.

CC:  Thank you!

Friday, September 28, 2012

ATC Interview with Chris Cosentino, continued

ATC:  This is Laura Kluvo from All Top Chef and I'm on the phone with Top Chef Masters Season 4 Champion, Chris Cosentino.  Congratulations Chef Chris!

CC:  Thank you.

ATC:  You made some bold choices in the finale - which of the four dishes was your favorite?

CC:  You know, all four of those dishes were not only dishes that were carefully prepared and thought through, but they are each very very  special to me.  The Chef's Last Supper is actually in my cookbook, it is the very last page.  I could not choose a favorite.  Each one has a very powerful meaning.

ATC:  Are these available on the menu at your restaurant?

CC:  Yes, I have served three of them for years.  The tripe is always on my menu and the Chef's Last Supper,  but the beef heart tartare with foie gras...unfortunately, in California it is now illegal to serve foie gras so that part is no longer on the menu.

ATC:  When you entered the Top Chef kitchen for the first time and looked around at the other chefs, who did you feel would be your biggest competition?

CC:  Well, Missy Robbins really made me nervous.  Unfortunately because of her injury, she did not have the opportunity to fight for her charity.... I know what Patricia is capable of...  Takashi...of course...  I knew a lot about Kerry but not enough about Kerry.

ATC:  Have you remained in touch with the other chefs?

CC:  Yes, I was just in Seattle and had lunch and dinner with Thierry, I talked to Takashi the other day... I talk to Patricia about once a week.  I talked to Art the other day too.  All of us have been reaching out to one another and it's really a cool thing.

ATC:  Which was your favorite challenge?

Excluding the finale, which of course was great - because we got to cook what we wanted to cook...I feel that for me The Grand Canyon Challenge was extremely powerful.  I mean walking out on the Skybridge and looking down through the glass...  being invited on to the sacred land of the Hualapai Tribe was just a once-in-a-lifetime experience.  Even the rainstorm was just beautiful.  This will never be repeated.  The helicopter ride was just hysterical.  Our pilot was so funny and Takashi was able to overcome his fear of heights.  It's just impossible to describe what it was like to be standing on the rim of the Canyon and to look across and see the storm.  It was very very powerful.  Absolutely stunning.

ATC:  Honestly you were very likable on the show - have you felt the fan support?

CC:  Ummm...

ATC:  Have you been recognized in the street?  On the plane?

CC:  Yes, I mean I just took a flight to San Francisco and there were people on the flight congratulating me.  And of course my Twitter just blew up.  It was ridiculous.

ATC:  Besides cooking what are your other interests?

CC:  I am an avid cyclist.  I used to be a professional mountain biker.  Now I ride for fun.  I also really love skiing and I'd like to do more of it.

ATC:  Tell us about your restaurant.

CC:  My restaurant Incanto, is in San Francisco in area called  Noe Valley.  It's an Old-World style Italian restaurant.  We try to cook with an Italian philosophy.   In an average week, we get a 250 pound pig, whole -  and two whole lambs or goats depending on what we intend to serve.  We just work our way through the animals and change things up as we go.

We also have a project called Boccalone. We create 26 different cooked, cured and raw products.  We sell all sorts of salumi.  Five heart salumi...  Fresh sausage...  We have been doing it for about 5 years.

I give people at home the ability to have the unique foods that are not available at the general market.  If you want cheek bacon or back bacon you can order them and we will ship them.   These are the lovely Italian flavor profiles made with the best quality meats available for you to serve at home.

ATC:  Tell us about your charity.

The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research is an amazing charity.  They are not afraid to really leap forward and to take bold chances in an effort to eradicate this disease.  My Uncle John died of Parkinson's and he was diagnosed with the disease over 30 years prior so he suffered with the disease for a long time.  When he died he donated his brain to research.   He was such a generous and convivial guy - he really taught me a lot.   To have the Michael J. Fox Foundation allow me to represent them is a huge honor.  This is really going to help a lot of people.

ATC:  How much did you win?

CC:  I won $141,000 but I just learned that Google is doubling the amount so the total is $282,000.

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

CC:  Don't be afraid of your food!  These are regular cuts of meat.  Other countries celebrate these cuts.  We are the only country that doesn't utilize the entire animal.  We need to learn to appreciate the whole animal and to create less waste.  Try something new.

All Top Chef Interview with Kerry Heffernan, Continued

ATC:  This is Laura Kluvo from All Top Chef and I'm on the phone with Top Chef Masters Season Four Runner-up Kerry Heffernan, Good morning Chef Kerry.

KH:  How are you?

ATC:  Congratulations on your strong showing.

KH:  Thank you.  I am very proud to compete.  I had an amazing time and I learned a lot about myself and my competitors.  It was really really great.

ATC:  Going in to the finale, did you feel like the underdog?

KH:  From the beginning, the person that I felt I was competing with the most was myself.  It didn't make any difference whether I observed what anyone else was doing.  It was only about me doing the very best that I could do.

So I felt very strong going in for a number of reasons.  For instance, the format suited me.  Serving four plates, a composed meal, a menu, not just a bite, was definitely what I am trained to do.  Honestly I felt very strong going in.

ATC:  If I was at a restaurant and saw all of these dishes on a menu, I would definitely chose yours.

KH:  Yes that seems to be the feedback that I am getting.  That my food was easier to understand.

ATC:  The critics I suppose are very sophisticated but the viewers are just regular fans.

KH:  I seem to have lost the undisclosed "letter-writing" category.

That appears to be much of what the judges were looking for - an eloquence in describing where and when the recipes were coming from.

But hey, all's fair in love and war.

ATC:  Did you watch the previous seasons of Top Chef?

KH:  Yes, yes of course.

ATC:  What did you do to prepare for the show?

KH:  I talked to Floyd and a few people, they said it would be really hard and intense.  You don't know how to prepare.  If you can, memorize a few pastry principles, but other than that, no.   I should have studied a little more because I learned that a right cross to the jaw would be much more effective than some subtle tai chi moves.

ATC:  After watching the show, and seeing the critic's reactions to your food, is there anything that you would have done differently?

KH:  No, I did what I do best. Choose good ingredients, highlight those ingredients and do it in subtle and thoughtful ways.

That doesn't stand up very well, when the person just before has served raw onions, jalapeños and cilantro in big doses.  You have to be mindful that the judges will be tasting a variety of things, and usually the big flavors win.

ATC:  That is great advice for future contestants.

ATC:  Which was your favorite challenge?

KH:  I liked the finale.  No doubt.

ATC:  Tell us about your restaurant.

KH:  Well, we recently sold Southgate in the Essex House which is now owned by Marriott.  I am actually looking at three projects right now.  I still maintain a consultancy at 15CPW.  It's a high-end apartment building that actually has a private restaurant just for the residents.  It's very unusual that a restaurant is only for the residents.

I'm also writing a book about Twelve Months in Sag Harbor.

I don't know if you saw Watch What Happens Live.  I actually brought some cups of chowder from clams that I harvested in my back yard.

ATC:  I didn't watch, but I was a little concerned that you might have a hangover if you were on his show last night.

KH:  It's not the show, it's the after after show that you have to worry about.

ATC:  Tell us about your charity.

KH:  My charity is City Harvest.

I have actually been working with them for over twelve years.  They take the food that is left over from restaurants in New York City and re-purposing it in a very quick turnaround and distribute it to people in need.  It has become much bigger than this, not only because of the chefs that are involved but because of the Executive Director,  Jilly Stephens who has done an amazing job.

The effectiveness, drive, outreach and fundraising of this is really really extraordinary.

How much money did you raise?

I raised $17,500 on the show, but there is a continuing campaign.  So for anyone who contributes to City Harvest between now and October, when we have our big event, we will match your contribution.

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

KH:  I was very proud to be part of this season.  It was so much about the food.  Putting the best plate forward.  It was an amazing experience.

ATC:  Thank you Kerry.

KH:  Thank you!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

All Top Chef Interview with Lorena Garcia, Continued

ATC:  This is Laura Kluvo from All Top Chef and I'm on the phone with Top Chef Masters contestant, Lorena Garcia.  Hi Lorena.

LG:  Hi Laura.

ATC:  Congratulations on your very strong finish.  Your elimination was heartbreaking.

LG:  I was very very sad.

ATC:  Did you watch the episode last night?

LG:  To be honest with you, I only saw bits and pieces because I was tweeting and live-chatting with the fans.

ATC:  Well that is very important - to be there for your fans.

LG:  Absolutely,  that's what I tried to do.

ATC:  I do not recall hearing anything in the instructions about creating a "restaurant" dish.  I only heard "elevate the dish to a master level."  Were you told to create a restaurant dish?

LG:  No, really, to my recollection, we were told to "elevate the dish" to something that could be taught to the kids - something that they could learn and reproduce.  It was lasagna, there was only so much we could do.  It had to be something accessible and doable for them.

ATC:  If you could go back, is there anything that you would do differently?

LG:  In the process of making the dish, I learned things about the sudents, like Jojo had type 2 diabetes, and maybe if I had known that, I might have modified things a little, but honestly, I still would have presented the dish family-style and I am imagining that the kids will prepare this again for their families.

ATC:  Which was your favorite challenge of the season?

LG:  The Grand Canyon - WOW.  That was just so amazing.  To cook there in that majestic place, with Art....and whoever won or lost didn't matter, it was just so fantastic to be there...and every Quickfire was just so much fun, just the running around like crazy, and when I got it - like the dart hitting the bullseye, it was just great... And in the boxing ring with Sugar Ray, being able to come out a winner in that challenge was just great.

ATC:  Did you know Art before you arrived for the competition?

LG:  No no no no, we met on the show.  Now we talk about every day, and we are developing some ideas together for pop-up restaurants around the country.

ATC:  I've enjoyed the cantina bowl several times, will you be creating more original recipes for Taco Bell?

LG:  Yes, I am continuing to help Taco Bell to introduce new ingredients to Taco Bell and to continue to develop the cantina menu.  I am up to this challenge.  We want to offer great choices on the menu at Taco Bell.

ATC:  Tell us about your charity.

I started with something called "Big Chef Little Chef" about seven years ago, in the schools just teaching the kids about food and healthy cooking and eating.  Even just the difference between onions and garlic.  The kids and the parents learned together about making good choices.

About two years ago I joined The Alliance for a Healthier Generation, I have the opportunity to teach students how to make healthy food choices - of course all of this is with my latin-inspired ingredients and recipes.

This week, for instance, we are promoting "Healthy Breakfast Week" in the schools and I am having breakfast with the kids and learning what they really like to eat for breakfast.

ATC:  Tell us about your restaurant.

I just opened about three weeks ago in the Atlanta airport.  Of course I have one here in the Miami airport and soon we will open in Dallas/Ft. Worth.

It's very exciting.  I am working very hard.

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

LG:  Wow, I want to say that the support and the love that I have received from the fans of the show is fantastic and I am very grateful.  What you see on the show is the real thing and I just can not wait to see what is there for me next - and again thank you so much to all of my fans for all of your love and your tremendous support.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

All Top Chef Interview with Patricia Yeo, Continued

ATC:  This is Laura Kluvo with All Top Chef and I'm on the phone with Master Chef Patricia Yeo.  Hi Patricia.

PY:  Hello, How are you?

ATC:  Good, thank you.

ATC:  Congratulations on your very strong showing in the competition.

PY:  Thank you.  I had a lot of fun.

ATC:  What was the best thing about appearing on Top Chef Masters?

PY:  Being with the group of chefs was just wonderful.  I mean Kerry and Missy and Sue I have known for a while and we do events together, but we have never worked side by side.  It was great getting to know other chefs like Takashi and Thierry - and of course Chris, I just love Chris.

ATC:  Did you watch the episode last night?

PY:  No, I actually can't watch myself so I haven't watched a single episode.

ATC:  I totally understand.

ATC:  Have you participated in any other cooking competitions?

PY:  Iron Chef.

ATC:  You did Iron Chef?  How did it go?

PY:  Very well.  It was a lot of work.  The cooking is all very real, you really only have the hour - it was a lot of fun.  [Note:  Yeo went up against Chef Morimoto in "Battle Tofu" in season 3 of Iron Chef America.]

ATC:  Have you been recognized in the street?

PY:  Yes, in the strangest places. Not so much at home in Boston or Cambridge but when I travel.  In New York and Chicago.

ATC:  Which was your favorite challenge?

PY:  Crikey.  Strangely enough, I liked the Thai Restaurant Challenge because I like that cuisine.  I also liked the "Diner en Blanc" challenge.  It was truly amazing how quickly the whole thing was set up and broken down.  It was beautiful.

ATC:  Have you ever heard of the "Diner en Blanc" before?

PY:  No.

ATC:  Tell us about your restaurant?

PY:  I am actually no longer at the restaurant.  I am right now working on development for an equity firm.

ATC:  You are not cooking every day in a restaurant?

PY:  No I am not, I am involved in setting up four different projects right now which will be opening soon and I will be involved in the initial set-up but not in the daily cooking.  I am 52 years old and I don't want to be on my feet from 7:00 am - 11:00 pm.

ATC:  Tell us about your charity.

PY:  My charity is Heifer Project International.  The foundation buys animals - livestock for farmers in various countries.  So you can buy a llama for someone in Peru, or a beehive for  someone in Alabama, or a flock of chickens for someone in Thailand.  Instead of just giving someone a chicken, you give them a flock and they can raise the flock and have eggs.  They actually can build a small business.  It is a wonderful charity.

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

PY:  Crikey, you know, everyone has been so supportive.  I appreciate all of the emails and messages.  I want everyone to know that this really was just so much fun and all of us will remain friends for a long time.  It was a wonderful experience.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

ATC Interview with Takashi Yagihashi, Continued

ATC:  This is Laura Kluvo from All Top Chef and I'm on the phone with Top Chef Masters contestant Chef Takashi Yagihashi.  Hello Chef!

TY:  Hello.

ATC:    You were a favorite all season and we were surprised to see you go, were you also surprised?

TY:  Yes, to be honest, I was a little surprised, but all of the chefs are very talented great chefs, so I did pretty well.

ATC:  Which was your favorite challenge?

TY:  I like the Quickfires.  I won three times in a row and I almost won a fourth.  So I think I have pretty good knife skills and my technique is pretty good.  So I  can work quickly.  I like Quickfire a lot.

ATC:  Have you competed in any other cooking competitions?

TY:  I did Iron Chef Challenge on the Food Network.

ATC:  How did that go?

TY:  It was close, but I lost to Chef Michael Symon.

ATC:  Did you watch the previous seasons of the Top Chef?

TY:  Yes, I did.  Actually when they called and asked me to do it, I started watching all of the shows.  I watched very carefully after that.

ATC:  Who are your best friends from the cast?

TY:  I'm very close to Thierry.  He's a great chef and also very funny.

Also, from Kansas City, Debbie Gold.  She used to be in Chicago.

I have also known Art Smith from Chicago.  You know, when I saw them in the studio for the first time, it felt like a reunion.

I also made a lot of new friends.  I did not know Chris Cosentino before this and also Mark and Clark.

ATC:  If you could go back, is there anything that you would do differently?

TY:  Yes.  On the last challenge.  I had to move very quickly and right away I started.  I think I should have taken a little more time to look at the pantry and see what was available.  I think I missed a lot of things I could have used that were hiding there.   Maybe I should have taken another minute.  That was my one regret.

ATC:  Tell us about your charity?

TY:  My charity is the Red Cross.  For the tsunami disaster in Japan.  My town in Japan is about 100 miles away from the epicenter, but even my town had a big problem.  A lot of people died.  Also, my family travels back to Japan once a year, or every two years.  My kids remember what this area looked like before the tsunami.  So this is why I wanted to send some money to Japan.

ATC:    How much money did you win for the Red Cross?

TY:  I think $20,000.

ATC:   What are you working on now?

TY:   I am back cooking at the restaurant.  I know it sounds boring but that is what I am doing every day.  My restaurant, Takashi, fine dining, is almost like a fusion restaurant.   French technique, Asian ingredients.

Also, Slurping Turtle a Japanese tapas bar.  Very comfortable food.  Lots of noodles.

I try to cover two markets.  I alternate between restaurants.

Also, I am working on two new cookbooks, and I am working on a video to promote the restaurants.

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

TY:   I had a really good time.  I wish I could speak up more well, the other chefs are much better.  Cooking is a wonderful thing.  You can put yourself on the plate.  Almost like an artist using a canvas.  It's really fun.  I am very happy to have had this opportunity to express myself.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

ATC Interview with Art Smith - Continued

ATC:  This is Laura Kluvo from All Top Chef and I'm on the phone with Master Chef Art Smith.  Hi Art.

AS:  Hi Laura, how are you?

ATC:  I'm fine but I have kind of a broken heart....

AS:  Ah, thank you, I know I was sorry to leave.

ATC:  Art, first, please share your weight-loss secrets.

AS:  Well, during the first season of Top Chef Masters, I was not feeling well and I discovered that I had diabetes and I knew I had to make some changes.

First - eat clean.  For instance if you want orange juice, eat an orange.  Eat whole clean foods.  You really can't eat processed foods.  Also, I exercise an hour a day.  I like to listen to music and to dance on the treadmill.  I have run two marathons...I can't believe I did that.  Two marathons in three weeks....

For breakfast I have the "Art Start."  Oatmeal, Greek yogurt and and egg white omelet.  I eat this every day.  Even on set, I brought the ingredients with me and prepared it every morning.  I also went running in the desert.

ATC:  Which was your favorite challenge this season?

AS:  Well of course it is easy to say, the one that I won - the tepanyaki grill.  That was a lot of fun.  But I also enjoyed the aphrodisiac challenge.  Dita von Teese was amazing.

ATC:  What went wrong with your wedding cake?

AS:  Oh the wedding cake...  You know, it was the transportation and the time lag mostly.  It was like the leaning tower of Pisa.  I assembled it in the cooler at the restaurant and then by the time it was served it was just falling over.  Thank goodness I saved the top...

I want to say that just two weeks ago I had the opportunity to make the president's birthday cake.  And what did I make? - the pineapple upside-down cake and it turned out beautifully.  I mean I was sweating a little.  It was heavy and I was presenting it thinking, "Oh please don't fall over," but it was delicious.

ATC:  Tell us about your restaurants.

Honey.  We have five restaurants.  Right now I'm at Art & Soul in Washington DC, a soulful southern restaurant just steps away from the Capitol.

Table Fifty-Two is my signature restaurant in Chicago.

We also have Southern Art and Bourbon Bar in Atlanta, which just got named on of the seven top hotel restaurants in America, which I am so excited about, and there is LYFE Kitchen in Palo Alto...which is a healthy, quick-serve concept.  We are opening a second one in Culver City.  We have Joanne's with the Lady Gaga family in New York.

I'm opening soon in San Antonio Texas - another hotel project and also in West Hollywood.

I'm telling you something - fried chicken will travel.

I'm excited, we are working on a national concept... I tell you Lorena Garcia and I - the love has not stopped.  We are planning the ultimate pop-up in the ultimate location as we speak...

ATC:  Are you serious?!?!?

AS:  Just put your thinking cap on and think about what would be the highly visible location in the next few days...

ATC:  The Democratic National Convention????

AS:  I didn't hear you....

ATC:  It can't be a secret, please tell us a little more....

AS:  Lorena and I are like sisters...  You know she is Venezuelan like my husband Jesus.  We want to bring Common Threads to Venezuela...

So many of the other chefs are so...

ATC:  So serious?

AS:  So serious.  I mean I think it's important to be serious about your food, but if you aren't having fun, then you need to get into another business..And Lorena and I just laughed and had so much fun.

ATC:  Okay.. so you and Lorena... pop-up...

AS:  Yes, we are working on a very public pop-up and then we will be working on several others.  Please watch out on twitter.   We are very excited...

ATC:  Tell us about your charity.

AS:  My charity is Common Threads.  

After school you know a lot of children don't have enough to do and this program uses cooking as a way to teach children how to prepare food, how to eat well, and most importantly, how to work together.  These are all important life skills.  Just those skills are enough to get you through.

We started with fifteen kids and now we have 7000.   We have programs in Miami, LA, Washington DC, Chicago.  We have eighteen locations and we are growing.  Shows like Top Chef Masters have enabled us to expand and it is very exciting to see how many kids watch cooking shows and have developed a real love of cooking as a result of Top Chef.

ATC:  Did you know Lorena before arriving at the show?

AS:  No!  It's hard to believe because she has become like a sister.

ATC:  Have you tried the cantina bowl at Taco Bell?

AS:  No, but if Lorena has touched it, it is magic, I'm sure.

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

AS:  Most importantly I want to say a big big thank you.... you know I read all of the sweet comments from everyone and on Facebook.  I appreciate all of the love.  Thank you for laughing when I wore that teeny weeny green Speedo, and I have received so many warm wishes from fans who recognize me and who visit me at the restaurants and who are following my weight loss.  I have never felt so loved.  There is nothing like being greeted by a fan who says, "I have enjoyed watching you on the show."  Thank you people like the Magical Elves and Bravo and especially to the fans.

I'm getting ready to do a really great event with the Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.  She has the idea of using chefs in diplomacy.  I truly believe that most of the world is hungry and if we just feed people we will have a lot less problems.

When all else fails, remember that a simple, delicious meal, made with love always helps.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

ATC Interview with Thierry Rautureau - continued

ATC:  This is Laura Kluvo from All Top Chef and I'm on the phone with Master Chef Thierry Rautureau.  Hi Theirry!

TR:  Hello Laura, How are you doing?

ATC:  Fine, thank you.  Congratulations on making the cast of Top Chef Masters.

TR:  Thank you very much.

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

TF:  The best thing about being on the show was forging a strong friendship with the other contestants and also having the lifetime pleasure of cooking over The Grand Canyon.

ATC:  So, was that you favorite challenge?

TR:  That was my favorite location.  I don't know if it was my favorite challenge, even though I won.  I wasn't very comfortable with the banana yucca.  I tell you it was a little bit of a head spin when I tried to figure out what to do with it.  The wonderful thing about the show was cooking on top of the world.  It was very humbling.  I thought it was absolutely magical.  It was the opportunity of a lifetime.

ATC:  I have a question about the Quickfires:  When all of the plates are set on on the table and the judges go down the line and taste them all, doesn't the last plate have a disadvantage?

TR:  Well, I think it depends on who is judging.  When you are the last one you have a disadvantage because things get cold. things fall apart or don't look as good as they used to.  There is quite a time differential between the first plate and the last plate, so yes, there could be a disadvantage.

But on the other hand, the palate may be satiated after tasting eight or ten plates and you may be granted a little bit of leeway on strength of seasoning.  Also, the last plate leaves the strongest impression.  So being last could also be seen as an advantage.

ATC:  Also, in the elimination challenge, how much time passed between plating and serving your dish?

TR:  Enough time for the Béchamel to separate.

ATC:  How hot was the temperature at the pool party?

TR:  It was pretty warm.  It was warm enough so that if you were doing a raw dish, you would definitely take a chance that the heat would warm up the dish.

But then a hot dish would cool as the trays were passed.

I made a rookie mistake.

ATC:  If you could go back, is there anything that you would do differently?

TR:  I would definitely do the Bloody Mary and the fruit skewer, but I would probably do a different sandwich and probably not the Béchamel.  I would probably still do something classic, but a different dish.

ATC:  Tell us about your restaurants.

TR:  I have two.  I've got Rover's, which is a fine dining establishment, a small house converted into a restaurant.  We have been open for 25 years.  It is very much focused on each diner.  And then next door we have a French-American Bistro called Luc, named for my father who passed away several years ago.  We serve crepes, classic and contemporary French and American dishes, hamburgers, things like this.

ATC:  What is the most popular dish at Rover's?

TR:  The most popular dish at Rover's is probably the scrambled egg and caviar which we have been doing for 25 years.  We take the egg out of the shell, prepare it, put it back in the shell, and top it with lime creme fraiche and white sturgeon caviar.

I would say the most frequently ordered dish is the foie gras.  We are known for this.

ATC:  Tell us about your charity.

TR:  My charity is Food Lifeline, which is an organization that gathers food, repackages it and distributes it to local food banks.

So, if you are a small food bank and you are looking for something like 50 pounds of apples packaged into single-serving containers, you can contact Food Lifeline and they will be able to provide this to you.

Of every dollar donated to this cause, 93 cents goes to food and only 7 cents goes towards operating expenses.

So it is a very efficient and well-run organization.

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

TR:  I would like to say to my fans, "Thank you very much for your tweets and Facebook messages, and all that you have been giving me.  It is very warming and don't give up because I am sure that Bravo will be asking me back again for another round."

Thursday, August 16, 2012

All Top Chef Interview with Clark Frasier, Continued

ATC:  This is Laura Kluvo from All Top Chef and I'm on the phone with Master Chef contestant, Clark Frasier.  Hi Clark.

CF:  How are you, Laura?

ATC:  I'm great, thank you!

I interviewed Mark last week and we have already talked about your restaurants and your history, so this week, let's talk about the competition.

Besides Mark did you know any of the other chefs when you arrived?

CF:  Yes, actually, we worked with Takashi a number of times and always enjoy him, and we had met Art, terrific guy, and we also met Patricia and been to her restaurant.  Yes, there were some familiar faces.

ATC:   Which was your favorite challenge?

CF:  I would say the seafood challenge was really fun.  We live right  here on the coast of Maine and we love  seafood, love oysters and so that was very natural for me.

Also, I am from California originally and so the salad bar challenge was also a fun one for me.  I love salad.

ATC:   When you arrived at The Grand Canyon, there was quite a selection of ingredients there for you.  Did you shop for those?  How did that work?

CF:  We knew ahead of time, what our "ingredient" was, in my case that was corn, and we were told that there would be "pantry items" but we didn't know exactly what would be available.

ATC:  Were you able to develop your recipe before you arrived, or did you have to improvise?

CF:  I knew I wanted to make a corn ragout. But, I mean I hoped that every ingredient I wanted would be there.

Actually I would say everything that I needed, within reason, was available.

ATC:  If you could go back, is there anything that you would do differently?

CF:  Well of course, I mean, if I did everything the same, then I would be eliminated again.  So I would change a few things.   This one didn't work, so I would like to go back with plan B.

Two things:  I tend to prep too much.  At the restaurant, we can never prep too much.  I mean if someone says prep for twenty I will prep for fifty.  That was something I didn't have to do.

The second thing is that although I believe that Kerry is a great guy and a great chef, it was obvious that we weren't clicking.

Actually originally, we were supposed to have salmon, but we discovered that the Hualapai do not eat fish, so we got tenderloin which I think is every chef's least favorite protein.  So, we had to punt which is what a Top Chef should be able to do.  I would have done something like a crisp corn cake to offset the softness of the tenderloin.

On Top Chef Masters, as you now, you only get one chance.  At our restaurant, if guests say, "You know, this seems mushy..." you can switch the recipe the next day.  You always have more than one chance.

ATC:   Was that your first helicopter ride?

CF:  Yes it was.  I loved it, it was so much fun.

ATC:   Did you travel back to Las Vegas in the helicopter?

CF:  No actually we spent four hours traveling back to Vegas in a panel van.

All of the chefs were great and very kind, but honestly, when something like this happens you don't really want to hang out with your buddies, you just want to go home and go to bed.

ATC:  After you were eliminated, were you able to join Mark for some fun in Vegas?

CF:  I had about eight hours of interviews the next day and then we just went home.  It was a very busy time of year, we had planned an event for the next week and had guest chefs coming in.  We had to get back.

ATC:    Did you know that you would be cooking outdoors?

CF:  Yes, I believe we did.  The rain was definitely a challenge.  Our grill was pretty much out.  It was definitely a challenge.

ATC:    How long total, were you at The Grand Canyon?

CF:  We got there, I would say, mid-morning and then we left about early evening.

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

CF:  We have had terrific support from everyone.  We had people in at the Raleigh-Durham airport and again in LA tell us, "We enjoy seeing you on TV," that was very exciting.  It has been terrific to feel everyone rooting for us.  Really very gratifying, very exciting.

Thank you to everyone.

ATC:  Thank you!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

ATC Interview with Mark Gaier- Continued

ATC:  Did you do anything to prepare for the competition?

MG:  I watched the prior seasons of the show, sharpened my knives and brushed up on some skills.  When you own and operate three restaurants, you are more into administration rather than cooking on the line, and so I spent some time in he kitchen and became more involved in the kitchen that I have in the last few years.

ATC:  Did you watch the episode last night?

MG:  I didn't because we are traveling and I was actually airborne last night.  This morning I downloaded it from iTunes and so far I have watched through the Quickfire Challenge.  I really enjoyed the Quickfire.  I will finish watching as soon as I can.  I'm dying to see it.

ATC:  It was a great episode, but I have to warn you that there is a heartbreaking ending.

MG:  I'll be honest with you, there was some sense of relief when I was eliminated.  I was so tired, you know, I am not 25 any more and they work you hard there.  It was fun, but there was a moment when I thought, "Well, I get to sleep in tomorrow, go shopping and spend some time with friends in Las Vegas.." so that was kind of neat.

ATC:  Tell us about your restaurants.

MG:  Our first restaurant,  Arrows, is on five acres in the countryside.  We were on the forefront of what is now called the "farm-to-table" concept.   We have an organic garden and we were working on sustainability as early as 1990, before it was all over the radar screen.  We are very proud of that.   We are kind of pioneers, and especially in such a harsh climate.  It is not easy to keep an organic garden going in Maine.

ATC:  Then, our second restaurant, MC Perkins Cove we opened a few years later.  We were so involved in running Arrow and trying to make it better that we were coasting on that and as we entered our late 30's we were ready for a new challenge.

An opportunity opened up for us to get this great piece of real estate right on the ocean and we opened up a two-story restaurant.  Kind of a rock 'em sock 'em with an oyster bar, and off-the-grill items, small plates, salads - still keeping with the sustaibability and using things from the Arrow garden.  A lot of the food is like what Clark and I grew up with.

And then in 2007, Marriot Hotels approached us about opening a restaurant on their Boston property.  We looked at the property and recommended that Marriot just blow it up and start over and that is sort of what they did.  This was the first Marriot that I know of that has a full-time gardener, a greenhouse and a terraced garden right outside of the kitchen. [Editor's note:  This restaurant is Summer Winter.]

ATC:  Tell us about your charity.

MG:  My charity, Equality Maine Foundation, is a cause that is very dear to Clark and I and to many of our friends.  We have a referendum coming up in Maine where the voters will decide whether to give same-sex couples the same legal rights as so-called "normal" couples.  Clark and I have been very involved in many of their fundraisers.

Of course I would have loved to have been able to present them with $100,000 - wow that would have been great - but the $10,000 will do a lot to further the cause, that is certainly more than what I could have done on my own.

ATC:  That is a very important cause.  Chef Mark, we are almost out of time, is there anything else that you would like to say to your fans?

Oh, it has been great.  just on this trip we have been recognized several times.  It is really a lot of fun.  First on the flight from Boston to Los Angeles someone said, "We recognize you guys, you are on Top Chef."

And then at the airport, we were in the bookstore and a woman actually got up from her table at a restaurant across the hall and came over and said, "You're those guys on Top Chef.  I am really enjoying watching you!"

I feel very honored to have been a part of it.

ATC:  Thank you very much for joining the cast and thank you for the interview.

MG:  My pleasure.

Friday, July 27, 2012

All Top Chef Interview with Missy Robbins - Continued

ATC:  What is the most popular item on the menu at A Voce?

MR:  We change the menu around a lot, so I can't say there is one item, and our menu isn't really very big, but we are definitely known for our pasta.   We do a serious pasta program at both restaurants, and it's an important part of the A Voce culture.

ATC:  Did you watch the previous seasons of Top Chef Masters?

MR:  Oh yes.

ATC:  Did you do anything in particular to prepare for the competition?

MR:  Yes, I did a couple of quickfires at home for fun.  I have never done any competitive cooking before.  We cook against the clock every night at the restaurant, so I wasn't too worried about that.  You could watch the show a hundred times and there is really nothing to prepare you.

ATC:  When you walked in to the kitchen and saw the other chefs, who did you believe would be your toughest competition?

MR:  Definitely Chris Cosentino.

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

MR:  It was really unfortunate what happened, and I was certainly very angry at the time, but that was a long time ago and I've had time to digest it.  It was a really great experience just to be in the kitchen with all of the chefs.  As I said on the show, I have made a lot of good friends and I have no regrets.

ATC:  Thank you Chef Missy.

MR:  Thank you!

Friday, March 2, 2012

All Top Chef Interview with Top Chef Texas Champion, Paul Qui - Continued

ATC: This is Laura Kluvo from All Top Chef and I'm on the phone with Top Chef Texas Champion, Paul Qui. Congratulations, Paul!

PQ: Thank you so much.

ATC: How much money did you win total in all of the challenges and the finale?

PQ: $185,000, the Prius and two trips!

ATC: That must be a record! Have you received your check yet?

PQ: Not yet.

ATC: The car?

PQ: Not yet.

ATC: Paul, what did you do to prepare for the finale?

PQ: I just got back to the restaurant and got on the line and basically did my thing and kept on cooking.

ATC: Was it helpful to see your family there at the finale?

PQ: Yes, it was wonderful to see my parents and my girl. I got a second burst of energy. I thought, "I've got to push."

ATC: Who was your best friend from the cast?

PQ: Ed.

ATC: What advice would you give to future contestants?

PQ: Just focus on the cooking. Don't worry about anything else.

ATC: What is the name of your restaurant?

PQ: It's called Uchiko.

ATC: Have you added anything to the menu since appearing on the show?

PQ: Yes. I mean we have a portion of the menu that always changes.

ATC: Do you have plans to open up a restaurant of your own?

PQ: Eventually yes.

ATC: Your girlfriend is really cute. Any personal plans?

PQ: Yes hopefully we are making plans for our future together.

ATC: You were very smart to discard the crab and make the adjustment. Do you know what went wrong with the crab?

PQ: I don't know. It was fresh Dungeness Crab. It sort of soured overnight.

ATC: Did you watch the episode last night?

PQ: Yes.

ATC: Was there anything that surprised you?

PQ: Well, no. It was almost drama free. I mean most of the drama was Tyler, on Sarah's Team, but it was straight cooking for us.

ATC: Who was your most helpful sous chef?

PQ: They were all helpful in different ways. Barbara Lynch. She was amazing and brought great energy. They were all great.

ATC: What was the best thing about competing on Top Chef?

PQ: Meeting and getting to work with the other chefs. Being on Top Chef makes me feel like I am "staging" in a lot of different kitchens. Getting the feedback from all of the judges is like staging their kitchens.

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

PQ: Thank you for your support. Come to Austin!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

All Top Chef Interview with Sarah Grueneberg - continued

ATC: This is Laura Kluvo from All Top Chef and I'm on the phone with Top Chef Texas finalist, Sarah Grueneberg. Hi Sarah.

SG: Hi Laura.

ATC: Sarah, your boyfriend is really cute, have you gotten married yet?

SG: Not yet! We have been dating for five and a half years. There is no rush.

ATC: Who was your best friend from the cast?

SG: Lindsay Autry. Actually Lindsay, Heather, Grayson… We all really got along.

ATC: If you could go back, is there anything you would do differently?

SG: I wouldn't second-guess myself. I would just trust my instincts more. This competition puts you in a vulnerable state.

In a restaurant when you create a dish, you try it, and the others chefs taste it and you make adjustments before you present it. On the show, you only get one chance and I wish I had just gone with my first instincts.

ATC: Did you watch the episode last night?

SG: Yes, of course, it was awesome.

ATC: Was there anything that surprised you as you watched?

SG: Not really. I feel like it was really great. I enjoyed watching the judges table and hearing how hard it really was to make the decision.

ATC: Tell us about your restaurant.

SG: Well, Spiaggia is 28 years old. Tony Montuano (Top Chef Masters) is the chef/partner. It's the only 4-star Italian restaurant in Chicago. Next door is Cafe Spiaggia. It's great everyday food. It's a fun place and true Italian food.

ATC: Have you added anything to the menu that we saw you create on the show?

SG: Yes, absolutely. The stuffed cabbage, the pork skin ravioli, the risotto with the lamb heart… I was very inspired on the show and it was great to come back and to have so much support from Tony.

ATC: What did you do to prepare for the finale?

SG: Well, I "staged" at many different restaurants, I went to every Asian market that I could find with my mentor, worked on the dishes that I wanted to create. I took some pastry classes. I just wanted to be completely confident going in to the finale.

ATC: What does "stage" mean?

SG: Basically it is when a chef goes to work in a restaurant for a day to see how things operate in another kitchen.

ATC: What are you working on now?

SG: Really concentrating on my food. I am so different from the girl who arrived at The Alamo six months ago. I want to travel and develop even more new dishes. I'm excited about what is to come.

ATC: What was the best thing about competing on Top Chef?

SG: The friends. Definitely the other chefs. It was so great to be surrounded by others who are just as inspired as you are. I can compare it to summer camp. On the first day, you are like, "Mom, I want to go home." and then at the end you are like "No! I never want to leave." I had such a good time. I never laughed so much in my life.

ATC: Well you have a great smile and you were very fun to watch.

SG: Thank you.

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

SG: If you are ever in Chicago, please come to Spiaggia. Thank you to all my fans for their support. I really appreciate it.

ATC: Thank you Sarah.

SG: Thank YOU!

Friday, February 24, 2012

All Top Chef Interview with Lindsay Autry - Continued

ATC: What are you working on now?

LA: Well, I am still working with Michelle Bernstein. We have left The Omphoy and I am just considering many options.

ATC: If you could go back is there anything that you would do differently?

LA: Yes, I would smile more.

ATC: You seemed very poised to me. And you are a very clean chef.

What opportunities have come your way because of your appearance on the show?

LA: I've been able to do charity events and cook for wine dinners and other occasions.

ATC: Have you been recognized in the street?

LA: Yes, especially in my home town of West Palm Beach. The local paper has been recapping the show every week.

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

LA: I want to thank my fans for their support and for following me on Facebook and Twitter and please stay tuned to see what is next.

ATC: Thank you Lindsay.

Friday, February 17, 2012

All Top Chef Interview with Beverly Kim - Continued

ATC: This is Laura Kluvo from All Top Chef and I'm on the phone with Beverly Kim. Hi Beverly.

BK: Hi, How are you?

ATC: Great. You are a tough competitor!

I am sure that you never expected that you would have to shoot a gun and ski and cook in the freezing cold. Did you think that was fair?

BK: I knew that it was going to be hard. I had no idea we would be in the "Culinary Olympics" at Whistler. But whatever they were going to throw at us, I was ready. I signed up for it.

So, I mean, I wish I could have been in the kitchen where I had everything I needed to work with.

But you know Top Chef is all about twists and turns and how you overcome them.

Basically it is a game and you have to overcome the challenges.

ATC: How much time went by between the end of the competition and the start of the finale.?

BK: About four months.

ATC: Did you do anything to prepare for the finale during that time?

BK: Every day off that I had, I would practice new dishes. I imagined what I would make for the final round, for my "last meal" that would really represent my style.

Unfortunately I didn't get to show that but hopefully my fans will follow me and have the chance to try those dishes.

ATC: Padma seemed very emotional during your elimination. Did you feel that she was rooting for you?

BK: Well, we are both Asian-American and we are both moms, so I suppose there was a little bit of a connection there. Of course she was very professional, and I never got to talk to her personally or get to know her beyond what you see on the show. I definitely could relate to her.

ATC: Beverly, tell us about your family.

BK: I have a son who is two - he is crazy! He definitely makes me laugh and wears me out. I am married. My husband is a chef as well.

ATC: How cold was it on the mountain?

BK: Oh it was freezing! It was a miserable wet cold. We had warmers in our boots. Once we got moving it wasn't too bad though,

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

BK: I would like to thank my fans and to invite them to my restaurant and I hope they will come and check out my food. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.