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“Top Chef” Countdown

Credit: Bravo TV

Credit: Bravo TV

I just got off a conference call with two of the four “Top Chef” judges — Toby Young (at the far left in the photo) and Gail Simmons (far right). This Bravo TV reality cooking show begins its new season next Wednesday with a “supersized episode” that will last from 9 p.m. to 10:15 p.m. Three of the 17 contestants are Atlantans.

The judges answered a bunch of questions from journalists about what they thought of Las Vegas, what the conditions were like on the set, what impact the show has had, and so on.

Here’s what I found interesting:

On Las Vegas:

  • Young said he liked it because he could be a “Libertarian” there, walking around the casino floor in his bathrobe and holding a cigar. Um, “libertine”?
  • Simmons loved getting off the Strip and visiting the Neon Museum of old signs. She also said the city’s dry climate was a godsend to the chefs’ baking efforts. In previous cities, the humidity played a decisive role in the success and failure of different dishes.

On the show’s impact:

  • Simmons says she is repeatedly stopped in the street by viewers who are emboldened to try eel or chiffonade herbs thanks to the show. They also say their kids often come up with cooking lingo after watching the show. They ask to “brunoise” carrots.

On choosing who stays and goes:

  • Young says after a while the judging gets hard and “the judges get more quarrelsome as each season progresses.”
  • Simmons says “it comes down to technicalities, to the subtle nuances of a dish.”

Other tidbits from the conversation:

  • Simmons reveals that Tom Colicchio doesn’t like okra, and she doesn’t like black beans.

Stay tuned….

8 comments Add your comment

Wednesday food links | Omnivore Atlanta

August 12th, 2009
4:17 pm

[...] AJC’s John Kessler reports on a conference call with “Top Chef” judges Toby Young and Gail Simmons. var linkwithin_site_id = 36179; (function () { var elem = document.createElement(’script’); [...]

Drew

August 12th, 2009
8:57 pm

Padma is usually the sex symbol of the show, did Gail get a “makeover”? There are certainly some *popping* developments in that photoshopped picture.

Jokes aside, I do look forward to the new season and I’m certain that Atlanta will be well represented. I’m excited to see Kevin Gillespie just because I’ve always loved Woodfire Grill, but I think Santiago is going to be a powerhouse. That’s not to leave out Kirshtein: the Atlanta native is there for a reason and as a Atlanta native myself, I’m proud that he is given the spotlight.

Needabailout,too!

August 13th, 2009
11:00 am

Me, too. I can’t wait. I hope this show has a long shel-life. I was once a pastry chef for 15 years, and am verrry familiar from a real-life experience stand-point of the verbiage, the tools, the drama, the techniques, the recipes and the individual competition the show employs. If only I were twenty years younger, I’d try out for a spot.

TopChefFan

August 17th, 2009
11:56 pm

To Needabailout,too! You never know unless you try, if that’s a dream that you have (to try out for Top Chef), I’d say give it a try. Top Chef seems to focus on excellence not age. I’ll be rooting for you! Also, love the screen name!!

Needabailout,too!

August 18th, 2009
4:47 pm

I certainly wish I could, except that there is this one obligation called a mortgage that prevents me from following any new larks that require substantial, several-weeks-time away from a 40 hr. weekly gig. I know I could be strong competition, since not one yet could really bake. Out of the industry at this point, but still cook like mad. Pillsbury bake-off, maybe? In the meantime, TC will have to provide vicarious fulfillment each Wednesday night. C’mon, Atlanta!

John Kessler

August 19th, 2009
2:24 pm

Drew. I did the same double take. I believe you are looking at Gail’s shoulder in that photo.

gail simmons – 海运女

August 20th, 2009
4:36 am

[...] LA : The Los Angeles Restaurant, Bar, and Nightlife Blog.Eater LA – http://la.eater.com/|||Top Chef Countdown | Food and More with John KesslerI just got off a conference call with two of the four “Top Chef” judges — Toby Young (at the [...]

gail simmons | sodini video

August 20th, 2009
5:33 am

[...] LA : The Los Angeles Restaurant, Bar, and Nightlife Blog.Eater LA – http://la.eater.com/|||Top Chef Countdown | Food and More with John KesslerI just got off a conference call with two of the four “Top Chef” judges — Toby Young (at the [...]