Thursday, February 28, 2013

ATC Interview with Brooke Williamson, Continued

ATC:  This is Laura Kluvo from All Top Chef and I'm on the phone with Top Chef Seattle Finalist, Brooke Williamson.  Hi Brooke.

BW:  Hi.

ATC:  Congratulations on making it all the way to the finale?

BW:  Thank you very much.

ATC:  Do you think it was harder to fight your way through all of the challenges, or to fight back in Last Chance Kitchen?

BW:  That's a good questions.  They are both hard.  Last Chance Kitchen is more predictable.  You know it is 30 minutes.  You know Tom is your judge and you know you have to beat one chef.  It's do or die.

ATC:  We didn't see how you chose your sous chefs.

BW:  We flipped a coin and chose after the Craft Challenge.

ATC:  Who was your first choice?

BW:  CJ.

ATC:  How many challenges did you win?  And how much money?

BW:  I won eight challenges, three quickfires, five eliminations.  No money, but I did win a car, a cruise, and a trip to Costa Rica.

ATC:  Have you received the car?

BW:  Not yet.

ATC:  Who was your best friend from the cast?

BW:  I would say Kristen.

ATC:  Which was your favorite challenge?

BW:  The Berry Farm Challenge.  It was a lovely setting and a lot of fun.  I also liked the salmon challenge.

ATC:  It was fun to meet your family.  They must be very proud of you.

BW:  Yes, they are a very proud bunch.

ATC:  Did you son see himself on TV?

BW:  I think he did watch the show, but I haven't seen his reaction yet.

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

BW:  I chose my dishes, but not until about a week before the finale.  I didn't have a whole lot of time to practice anything.  I didn't really do much to prepare the first time either.  I just back got into the swing of things at work.

ATC:  It must have been hard to prepare 150 plates for each course.  How long were you in there?

BW:  It was a very long day.  Very long.  The day from start to finish was very long.  The prep, the service, the interviews afterward.  It was long.

ATC:  I was very surprised that you didn't go all the way to the dessert round.  Were you also surprised?

BW:  I was surprised.  I was very disappointed that I didn't get to make my dessert.  I felt that it was a really great dessert and I wanted to present it.

ATC:  What are you working on now?  Are you still at Hudson House?

BW:  Yes, Hudson House and The Tripel.  We are looking for a location for a new spot.  We will stay in the area, Redondo Beach and Playa del Rey.

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

BW:  Thank you for all of the support.  It has been incredible.  I have been back in touch with people I haven't seen in years. and it has been really great.

ATC:  Thank you Brooke.

BW:  Thank you.

ATC Interview with Kristen Kish - Continued

ATC:  This is Laura Kluvo from All Top Chef and I'm on the phone with Top Chef Seattle Champion, Kristen Kish.  Hi Kristen.

KK:  Hi Laura.

ATC:  Congratulations on your win!

KK:  Thank you.

ATC:  Last night's episode went by very quickly.  Did you watch?

KK:  Yes.  I felt like there were a lot of details that were not shown on the program, like how we chose our sous chefs and how we developed our recipes...all of the work that comes before the cooking - but it is only an hour show...

ATC:  Yes, that is one of my questions, were ALL of the season 11 chefs brought back for you to choose from?

KK:  No, I think there were maybe eight or ten...  after the last challenge at Craft, we chose our sous chefs.

ATC:  Playground style?

KK:  We flipped a coin and I chose Lizzie and Sheldon and later we found out we could choose one more, and that's when I picked Josh.

ATC:  Were you surprised to learn that you had to cook for 150 people?

KK:  Not completely.  We had to send in a food order ahead of time, so we had an idea...

ATC:  During the time that you spent waiting for your return to the finale, did you do anything to prepare?  Were you working on specific recipes?

KK:  I thought about a couple of sauces that I knew would take a lot of time to develop flavors. The shellfish nage takes a while.  I practiced several times to see if I could make it more quickly.  Other than that, my preparation was just working.  I really didn't have time for much more than that.

ATC:  I was very surprised when you were declared the winner after four rounds, were you surprised as well?

KK:  A little, but it is a head-to-head competition, and there is a winner declared after each round.  Each judge had to go on record and state his or her favorite.

ATC:  So there is no one behind the scenes asking the judges to stretch things out just for the sake of drama...that's nice to know.

ATC:  Have you received your prize money yet?

KK:  No, not yet.  It's probably a good thing because if I had it now I would probably be spending frivolously.

ATC:  What are you working on now?

KK:  I'm still at Stir, with Barbara.  I have a lot to learn from her and I intend to stay with her.  She has a few more ideas for me.  I am really looking forward to seeing what comes my way.

ATC:  How tall are you?

KK:  5'9"

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

KK:  Yes, thank you to all of my fans, it has been wonderful to feel all of the support.  The Boston Restaurant community is totally behind me and it has been great.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

ATC Interview with Chef Sheldon Simeon, Continued

ATC:  This is Laura Kluvo with All Top Chef and I'm on the phone with Chef Sheldon Simeon.  Hi Sheldon.

SS:  How's it going?

ATC:  Did you watch the episode last night?

SS:  Yes I did.  I got to relive the moment.

ATC:  Your family is adorable, tell us a little more about your girls.

SS:  That's what I was most proud of.  We got to showcase Maui and my family.  In the end that is what I am all about.  I have three girls, Chloe, 6, Peyton, 3, and Quinn, 18 months.

ATC:  And your wife is beautiful!

SS:  Yes, I am very fortunate to have the most beautiful and supportive wife I could ever ask for.

ATC:  It looks like you have become a celebrity in Hawaii.  How does that feel?

SS:  Everyone has been so nice.  It is definitely weird to be recognized in the street and to be posing for photographs.  But I was the same way.  I mean I have been a fan of the show and I was giddy whenever I saw any of the chefs. I enjoy meeting new people and it has really been fun.

ATC:  Were you surprised to see Kristen as the winner of Last Chance Kitchen?

SS:  No.  Not at all.  Everyone knew that she was a frontrunner.  It was a surprise when she was eliminated.  I had a feeling she would be back.

ATC:  What new opportunities have been presented to you as a result of your appearance on Top Chef?

SS:  Well first of course Star Noodle has been extremely busy.  It has really taken off.  There have been opportunities to open a restaurant on my own.  I am not sure where it will be.  I am carefully considering my options.  Of course I will make the best decision for my family.  Hopefully you will soon see a new restaurant a la Sheldon.

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

SS:  That's a tough one.  After listening to the critique, maybe I should have done more of what I had been doing all season, but honestly in that moment, that was what my heart felt.  I have no regrets...maybe I would have executed each dish a little better.

ATC:  Have any of the other chefs been out to Hawaii to visit you and to eat at your restaurant?

SS:  Yes, Carla has been out to Maui!  She came out and hung out at the restaurant.  It was cool because everyone here got to see what a sweetheart she is.

ATC:  Who is your best friend from the cast?

SS:  I think everyone saw my friendship with Josh.  I talk to him about every week.  He is like family.  We have talked about him coming out to Maui and maybe cooking together.  I also keep in touch with Chrissy and just about everyone.

ATC:  Tell us about Star Noodle.

SS:  Star Noodle is a small little 58-seat restaurant in Lahaina, Maui.  It is a Ramen Shop.  We have tons of small shared plates. It is kind of the best of all Asian foods, Korean, Chinese, Japanese and a lot of Hawaiian influence.

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

SS:  Definitely our Pad Thai Noodle.  It is different from the traditional Pad Thai, the bold flavor, and the different texture.  It's really good.

ATC:  It is amazing to note that a chef from a noodle shop in Hawaii made it all the way to the finals on Top Chef.  What advice can you offer to future contestants on the show?

SS:  If you go out for the show, just be yourself.  Be who you are.  Don't try to cook for the judges, just cook from your heart and live it up.  Enjoy every moment.

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

SS:  Everyone has been no nice.  Please continue to keep up with me #chefwonder on instagram and Facebook.  There are a lot of things coming up.

ATC:  Thank you Chef Sheldon.

SS:  Aloha!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

ATC Interview with Joshua Valentine, Continued

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

JV:  How are you?

ATC:  Did you watch the episode last night?

JV:  I did.

ATC:  With your wife?

JV:  Yes, of course she cried.  She tried not to, but she did.

ATC:  How did she feel about seeing and hearing herself on the show?

JV:  Well, obviously she just had a baby so she wasn't totally happy with how she looked, but besides that she loved it.

ATC:  How old is Georgia now?

JV: Six months.  She is starting to crawl and to get into trouble.

ATC:  Do you have other children?

JV:  Yes, I have two from a previous marriage.  They are six and four.  Isabella and Lola.

ATC:  If you could go back, what would you do differently in the final challenge?

JV:  I might not have been so ambitious or adventurous in trying to do three composed dishes.  I think I might have bit off a little more than I could chew.

ATC:  Who is your best friend from the cast?

JV:  That's hard!  Sheldon and I are probably the closest.  Also Stefan, Brooke, Kristen.  We are all pretty tight.

ATC:  Which was your favorite challenge?

JV:  The most fun challenge was actually the Reynolds Wrap Challenge.  It was such a blind thing and opening up the foil and seeing what you had was just such a surprise.

Obviously I also liked the fried chicken challenge.  I was very comfortable with it.  It just kind of came naturally.

ATC:  Is that where you won the wine?

JV:  Yes.

ATC:  Have you received the wine yet?

JV:  Not yet!

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

JV:  For me it is the amazing friends, the camaraderie.  That's what I take away from it.  It was a lot of fun.  I mean it's a competition, but you are also doing what you love so it's really fun.

ATC:  Tell us about FT33.

JV:  Right now I am the pastry chef.  We have been open for about 5 months.  We were just named the "Best New Restaurant of 2012" in Dallas.

ATC:  What does "FT33" mean?

JV:  It's kind of a restaurant term - "Fire Table 33."  We are an open-kitchen restaurant. Thirty-three is kind of the chef's table.  It is elevated and the diners can see into the kitchen and watch as everything is plated.

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

JV:  The menu changes regularly because we are very seasonal.  Right now we have a peanut butter panna cotta dessert - that one is very popular.  Everyone likes chocolate and peanut butter.

Probably one of the more interesting desserts right now is the Olive Oil Financier with Juniper Ganache and Apple Celery Sorbet and Compressed Celery with Gin.

ATC:  Yum.

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

JV:  Yes, I want to thank everyone for supporting me.  For your messages especially about Georgia.  It was a lot of fun and I appreciate the fans.

ATC;  Thank you Josh.

JV:  Thank you.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

All Top Chef Interview with Stefan Richter, Continued

ATC: This is Laura Kluvo from All Top Chef and I am on the phone with Stefan Richter. Hi Stefan.

SR: What's happening?

ATC: Going in to the competition, did you feel that you had an advantage?

SR: I think it was a disadvantage to be honest. You kind of dread what is going to happen. The waiting and the stew room, it is really harsh. You see two minutes of it, but it is actually five hours. What do we do? We drink and we bicker. It's very difficult. I knew that going in.

ATC: Which was your favorite challenge?

SR: The Berry Farm. It reminded me of Finland!

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

SR: There is really nothing you can do to prepare. I mean you would think that appearing on a previous season would be good preparation, but each season has different challenges and different competitors. It is impossible to prepare.

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

SR: Oh yes of course, all of them. Kristen, John, Brooke, Josh...

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

SR: No.

ATC: You stand by your dish.

SR: Absolutely. I have been a judge on Top Chef in Finland and I know that it is all just a matter of personal preference. I don't feel that any judge "didn't like me," it's just the way it goes.

ATC: Tell us about your restaurant.

SR: I have three steakhouses in Finland - plans to open three more in the next year.

Stefan's LA Farm is in Santa Monica. We have just renovated, I have a new entrance, patios, seven fire pits, come and visit!

ATC: I have a reader question from Kathy - Was your first time really on a ship? I thought it was a babysitter…



ATC: How is your mom?

SR: She is okay, I mean fifteen years with Parkinson's disease is no picnic but she is doing okay. I visit her about six times a year.

ATC: What are you working on now?

SR: Expanding in Finland, adding new menu items, I am very busy.

ATC: Are you working on any new television projects?

SR: Yes, actually…

ATC: Please keep us posted.

SR: I certainly will.

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

SR: I want to say thank you to everyone who is watching, blogging, tweeting and supporting me. Its not over, you can still vote to "save" me.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

All Top Chef Interview with Josie Smith-Malave, Continued

ATC:  This is Laura Kluvo from All Top Chef and I'm on the phone with Chef Josie Smith-Malave, Hi Chef Josie.

JSM:  Hi!

ATC:  Have you been watching the show every week?

JSM:  Yes, I sure have...

ATC:  Were you surprised by anything that you saw as you watched?

JSM:  Yes, I could say that.  Surprised would be an understatement.

ATC:  During the competition, did you feel that the other chefs respected you?

JSM:  Yes.  At the time I did.

ATC:  Did you feel that you had an advantage going in, because you had already competed in season 2?

JSM:  You know, I thought that there was a slight advantage.  I was familiar with how the process worked and I thought that if I sat back and let everyone else unravel, that I would have an advantage.  Sure.

ATC:  Did you recognize any of the other chefs when you arrived?

JSM:  Stefan and I have done events together.  CJ of course.  The rest I just met on set.

ATC:  Who is your best friend from the cast?

JSM:  Friend?  Hmmmm...  I would say Sheldon.

ATC:  Oh, he seems like a real sweetheart.

JSM:  What you see is what you get.  I have spent some time in Hawaii and he really embodies the Hawaiian spirit.  He's a pretty cool dude, I'm not gonna lie.

Lizzie also.  She is a stand-up lady.  There was nothing that she said that was unkind or uncalled for.  She is very respectful.

And Carla.  Love me some Carla!

ATC:   What have you been doing since we saw you in season 2?

JSM:  I've been building an empire.  Right now we have a pop-up location in San Francisco.  I have teamed up with a music venue called Thee Parkside.    It's called Global Soul Corner, we have just extended our lease.

I have also teamed up with some people to do a popsicle business.  We have some really inventive popsicle flavors.  We are working out the details to expand.

I'm also working on a couple of cooking shows.

I have been traveling the world...eating...learning about other cultures, not just food.  I have really had the chance to grow as a person and really to hone my future.

ATC:  What is the most intriguing flavor of popsicle that you have invented?

JSM:  I call it the dirty chocolate cake.  It's like a fudgsicle with a hint of chiles and of course, bacon...

ATC:  Are these available now?

JSM:  They are available at music events here in San Francisco and we are looking to expand our production and distribution.

ATC:  Which was your favorite challenge?

JSM:  I would have to say that was the Food & Wine Challenge where I was awarded immunity by Dana Cowin for my dumpling.

ATC:  Will there be a reunion episode?

JSM:  I have no idea.

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

JSM:  Watch What Happens - it's not over yet!

Friday, January 18, 2013

All Top Chef Interview with Kristen Kish, Continued

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

KK:  Hi Laura.

ATC:  Your elimination was completely shocking and disappointing.

KK:  Yes, it was heartbreaking to watch it and to re-live it as well, but all is good.

ATC:  So you watch ed the episode last night?

KK:  Yes,  of course, yes.

ATC:  The viewers certainly saw that Josie was slow and you had to make concessions for her lack of expertise, but the judges didn't see any of that.

KK:  Right, and that's okay.  I mean that is part of my job, to communicate and to get my point of view across.  I just didn't want to stand up there and fight.  It would have been a losing battle anyway.

ATC:  You showed a lot of integrity.

KK:  I hope so.

ATC:  Knowing that you beat CJ in Last Chance Kitchen gives us all hope that we will see you again in the finale.

KK:  Thank you, I hope so too.

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

KK:  There are a million things I would do differently.  Maybe a different menu.  Not as ambitious.

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

KK:  Here and there, yes.

ATC:  So, going in, did you have a plan for Restaurant Wars?

KK:  No.  It was spontaneous.  I mean I hoped that I would make it to the Restaurant Wars Challenge, but I was just taking it week by week.

ATC:  You were almost always on the top and Josie was often on the bottom, so it was very surprising to see that the judges eliminated you.  Were you surprised as well?

KK:  A little, I mean I made mistakes as well, and as the leader of the losing team, I kind of expected it.

ATC:  Who is your best friend from the cast?

KK:  Brooke for sure.

ATC:  Which was your favorite challenge?

KK:  All the challenges where I won money.

ATC:  How much did  you win?

KK:  $45,000.

ATC:  Have you received your check yet?

KK:  No, and that is probably a good thing.  I wouldn't know what to do with it.

ATC:  Are you still at Stir?

KK:  Yes I am.

ATC:  Besides cooking, what do you enjoy in your spare time?

KK:  Being with friends, music, and the arts.  I studied piano and I love it.  Everything in music and art.

ATC:  What are your plans for the future?

KK:  I am very happy where I am.  I don't want to change anything right now.

ATC:  Are you recognized in the street?  Are fans asking for your photo and autograph?

KK:  Yes.  I am stopped in the street or at Starbucks and people are always waving at me.  We have several restaurants on the same street and as I walk into each one to get supplies or whatever, the patrons will greet me.  It's great.

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

KK:  Thank you so much for all of the support.  It has been incredible.  I'm very very happy and I couldn't be more proud of the support that I am getting.

ATC:  Thank you Chef Kristen.

KK:  Thank you!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

All Top Chef Interview with Micah Fields, Continued

ATC:  This is Laura Kluvo from All Top Chef and I'm on the phone with Top Chef Seattle contestant, Micah Fields.  Hi Micah!

MF:  Hello.

ATC:  Did you watch the episode last night?

MF:  Of course I did!

ATC:  Was there anything that surprised you?

MF:  Well the part about me being a "Beverly Hills Chef" was edited a little...funny.  I do not consider myself a "Beverly Hills Chef."  I was trying to make the point that there are all sorts of demographics that enjoy raw food - everyone from the Ladies from Beverly Hills, to sushi-lovers from Japan, there are a lot of ways to prepare and appreciate raw food.  The grocery store didn't have the products that I was hoping for and it wasn't exactly what I wish I could have made.

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

MF:  I watched Top Chef Texas...Top Chef New York.  I have seen about three seasons..

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

MF:  Yes I did.  As soon as I learned that we would be in Seattle, I practiced a lot of seafood preparations.  I also brushed up on my pastry skills, even though I didn't have the opportunity to do any pastry.  It was a lot of pressure having five HD cameras on you.  It's impossible to prepare for that.

ATC:  Are you still working at The Standard in Los Angeles?

MF:  Yes I am.

ATC:  I have been there!  Is it still yellow?

MF:  Yes it is.

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

MF:  We actually just changed the dinner menu...we have a lamb rib...our ravioli changes on a daily basis...We also have a "burger of the week" that is very popular.  I have been there for about two years, so that is a hundred different burgers.  It's been popular and also very fun.

ATC:  Which was your favorite challenge?

MF:  Definitely the foil challenge.  When you don't know what you are going to cook with and you only have 30 minutes to cook it. That's a real task.

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

MF:  I would take more risks, move out of my comfort zone.  I would have pushed my limits.   I would do more seafood...

ATC:  Tell us a little bit about your daughters.

MF:  They are twins - five years old- their names are Sage and Saffron.

ATC:  Who are you best friends from the cast?

MF:  Kristen and I definitely had a connection.  Sheldon as well...Stefan... Obviously I am closest with the LA-based chefs.  I hang out with C.J. a lot.   I saw Brooke the other night.  The only one from L.A. that I haven't met up with is Kuniko.  She is busy opening a new restaurant.  Of course I will visit as soon as I can.

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

MF:  Yes, please vote to "Save Chef Micah."

ATC:  Thank you!

MF:  Thank you!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

All Top Chef Interview with John Tesar, continued

ATC:  This is Laura Kluvo with All Top Chef and I'm on the phone with John Tesar.  Hi John.

JT:  Hi Laura, how are you?

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

JT:  Yes, I believe I have watched every episode of every season for the past ten seasons.

ATC:  So you knew about the curse of the risotto...

JT:  Yes, of course, it was just the luck of the draw, I could have gotten anything, but I got the risotto.  Howie's dish was very complicated and included frog's legs and all sorts of things.  It was a challenge to make it healthy.  It was complicated and let's not forget that he sweat in the dish!

ATC:  Did you watch last night's episode?

JT:  I did.  I have been watching every week.  I have a brand new restaurant and when I get home late on Wednesday nights, I say goodnight to my wife and go and watch the show at like 1:00 in the morning.   I have truly enjoyed this season.  The editing is great - I mean there is a lot that you don't see, but Bravo has been great.

I think that there is a demographic that I represent.  I have tons of experience, I have operated many successful restaurants.  I am proud of what I did on the show.

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

JT:  Yes, I would have gotten a little more rest, and I would have made a vegetarian dish in the risotto challenge.

Also, knowing that Josh was coming back to Dallas, I would have been more honest and brutal with him.  I let hime get to me a little and now we are in the same town.  Like a lot of us, he has issues that he should deal with.  Real anger issues.

I was horrified on Thanksgiving when Josh and CJ really attacked me.  They were attacking me all day.  It really started to wear me down.

I would like to come back and do an All-Star season.  That's the advantage that CJ and Stefan and Josie had.  They know about the psychological drama and the toll that this takes.

I mean, just being selected for Top Chef, makes me feel like a winner.  I had tried out for the show before.

Honestly I could have held on to the pickles.  There was only one jar of pickles and I shared them.  That is who I am.  That is the real John Tesar.

ATC:  Who is your best friend from the cast?

JT:  I'm very fond of Brooke.  We are not exactly close, but she is very talented.  Kristen also is very talented.  She will be a great chef.  Stefan of course, is just the ultimate entertainer.  I enjoyed him a lot.  He would say, "Cook.  Just forget about the rest and cook."  Sheldon too.  He is a great guy.

ATC:  What was your favorite challenge?

JT:  The last challenge was my favorite because I learned so much from it.  On the show we really have to cook off the cuff.  There is no way to prepare for it.  I really did have trouble with the cookware.  Also, I had consumed so much MSG that I had numbed my palate.  I loved last night's edit and the ending and everything.  I mean it was bittersweet for me to move on, but I was laughing as I watched.

ATC:  Tell us about your restaurant, Spoon Bar and Kitchen.

JT:  I grew up on the east end of Long Island, and I am bringing the taste of the ocean to Dallas.

The Dallas Morning News just named us one of the best new restaurants of the year.  They used the word "important" when they described us.  

Although I am in a land-locked city, I decided that I wanted to do seafood.  Actually while I was in Seattle, I made a few contacts - geoduck and oysters from Seattle are both on the menu.

 I have a lot of support from the local community, from Dallas, and from my friends.  It's been great.

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

JT:  Please vote to save me.  I'd love to take Josh down!  It was a privilege to be on Top Chef.

ATC:  Thank you!

JT:  Thank you!