In Honor of Top Chef’s Emmy Nomination Today

I don’t have much to report as far as fitness goes. I did wake up this morning and I did make it to the gym early.  But the performance was less than stellar, since I am pretty sore from all the lunges and squats on Wednesday morning

Anyway, I wanted to post in honor of Top Chef today. I absolutely love this show. I only started watching in season 4 in Chicago and missed the San Francisco, Los Angeles and Miami seasons. And from there a monster was born.

In the last couple years, when I travel I have made it a point to do things in the cities I visit: 1. Go to the MLB ballpark 2. Hit up a Top Chef restaurant.

Fabio Viviani – Season 5 – New York & Season 8 – All Stars: Cafe Firenze, Moorpark, CA

This was before my religious food photo taking because I can’t seem to find photos of the food anywhere! So a small group of us went to Cafe Firenze on a Sunday night.  We got to sit at the seats that look into the kitchen. Unfortunately, Fabio wasn’t there that night.  But nevertheless, it was a good meal and one Top Cheftestant restaurant down!

Jamie Lauren – Season 5 – New York & Season 8 – All Stars: (was) Executive Chef at Absinthe Brasserie & Bar, San Francisco, CA

Jame Lauren has since left her post as Executive Chef at Absinthe, but I was lucky enough to catch her while she was still running the kitchen.  I had just moved to SF and when another Top Chef fan friend came to visit, it was the natural choice for the fancy dinner of the trip.  I ordered the sausage stuffed chicken (which is still one of my most memorable meals) and my friend ordered the top scallops (if you didn’t watch the show, Fabio had famously said that Jamie always cooked scallops… “This is top chef, not top scallop”)

Kevin Gillespie – Season 6 – Las Vegas: Co-owner/Executive Chef of Woodfire Grill, Atlanta, GA

I was out in Atlanta visiting one of my very best friends and I told her that we must go to Woodfire Grill! I had been to Atlanta a few months before, but the Vegas season has just finished and getting a reservation at Woodfire didn’t happen.  So on my next visit… we got reservations and dined!

Richard Blais – Season 4 – Chicago & Season 8 – All Stars (WINNER!!!): Creative Director of Flip Burger Boutique, Atlanta, GA

Okay, Richard has always been a favorite of mine. Although disappointed he choked during the Chicago finale, I was happy Stephanie Izzard won (her restaurant Girl and the Goat are on my hit list for Chi-town). Back to Richard: The day after our Woodfire Grill meal, my friend was taking family holiday photos near the Midtown location on Howard Mill. Her photographer (who happened to work at Woodfire Grill) suggested we try Flip Burger since I am such a huge fan of the show (and it helps I LOVE cheeseburgers!).  Anyway, so after the photo shoot we headed to Flip Burger.  Let me just say… this was the BEST cheeseburger I have ever had.  I had the Butcher’s Cut with the blue cheese, caramelized onions, frisse, and red wine jam… delish!  My friend and I split a nutella + burnt marshmallow liquid nitrogen milkshake (so Blais)

Mattin Noblia – Season 6 – Las Vegas: Chef Owner of Iluna Basque (now closed), San Francisco, CA

I went here when the same friend I took to Absinthe the year before came up to SF again to visit me.  We also had a Groupon deal for this place so naturally we checked it out.  Mattin was in the kitchen with red handkerchief and all cooking away. I remember being super hungry when I was here so most of the food was eaten before photos were taken, but I did take one of this steak and fries dish.

Dale Talde – Season 4 – Chicago & Season 8 – All Stars: Chef de Cuisine at Buddakan, New York, NY

So Dale was one of my favorites during Season 4 despite having a bit of a temper and rooted for him MORE when he returned to the All Star season. I so wanted a Dale v Blais finale! So for my birthday this year my older sister (who lives in NYC) got me a gift card and reservations to Buddakan (I was visiting after a business trip).  When I received the gift card in the mail, I could hardly wait to EAT! My younger sister (who lives in LA) was able to come out to NY as well.  It ended up being my NYC sister & cousin/cousin’s wife, LA sister, and me… lots of people to share… I am going to just post a few of my favorite dishes of the night.

Ryan Scott – Season 4 – Chicago: Chef Owner of 3 Sum Eats Food Truck, San Francisco, CA

So I just remember that Ryan got the boot in his season during the Tailgate Challenge.  I was just starting to watch football at the time, so football tailgate food was new to me as well.  Anyway, I think the foods he serves up from this truck would have won him that tailgate challenge. I am still dreaming of the corn flake crusted fried chicken sandwich (I had the second time I visited the truck).

Jennifer Carroll – Season 6 – Las Vegas & Season 8 – All Stars (left too soon!): Chef de Cuisine at Eric Ripert’s 10 Arts Bistro & Lounge, Philadelphia, PA

My most recent Cheftestant restaurant. I had a friend from home (the OC, So Cal) ask me if I wanted to meet her somewhere we both haven’t been.  We chose Philly and made reservations immediately for 10 Arts. The restaurant is located in the lobby of the Ritz Carlton.  After dinner we had the pleasure of meeting the Chef herself.  It was the (non- food) highlight of my Top Chef touring 🙂

Okay… I really need to stop… all this Top Chef food posting is making me HUNGRY! I can’t wait to try a new one (or go back to one’s I’ve been to).  I hope Top Chef wins the Emmy for the second year in a row!

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