Kelly Choi

Top Chef Addiction? We Got Your Fix

Bravo’s Top Chef is one of the most popular food-based television programs in history and devotees to the popular reality show are often left Jonesing for more.

Top Chef PodcastTop Chef PodcastWell I have a solution:  Jeff Houck (Food Writer for the Tampa Tribune) and Katie Machol (Food & Drink Editor for the Daily Loaf) not only lead a lively and sometimes bawdy live Tweet during each new Top Chef episode but they also have the best Top Chef recap in the known universe.

The Top Chef Podcast on CL Radio is like a methadone clinic for Top Chef junkies.  Did you miss an episode and now you’re wondering who won, who packed their knives or how much cleavage Gail Simmons was showing?  You can always catch the Top Chef Podcast here:

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Top Chef: Masters

The second season of Top Chef: Masters is taking some flack for the seeming lack of “Masters” in the competition. Tonight’s episode “It’s My Party” is no exception. Of the five contestants I am only familiar with one, the remarkably talented Marcus Samuelsson.  That is not to say that the other contestants are not great chefs.  There are any number of talented chefs who fly under the radar because they do not live in a large media market or have avoided the limelight.

The other four Carmen Gonzalez, David Burke, Monica Pope and Thierry Tautureau I needed to learn more about. Here’s what I found:

Carmen Gonzalez is the owner of Carmen the Restaurant in Miami. A native of Puerto Rico, she opened her namesake restaurant in 2003 and has received a notable amount of fanfare including Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence from 2004-2006; AAA’s coveted 4 Diamond Award in 2004 and 2005; a 2006 mention in Zagat’s America’s Top Restaurants.

David Burke owns David Burke Townhouse, David Burke at Bloomingdales, Fishtail by David Burke, Burke in the Box, David Burke Prime, David Burke’s Primehouse, David Burke Las Vegas, and Fromagerie, Burke.  With as many restaurants as he has with his name in the title it is a wonder I have never heard of the guy.  He was named the first ever recipient of France’s Meilleurs Ouvriers de France Diplome d’Honneur for excellence in American cuisine.  He has also been inducted into the 2009 James Beard Foundation’s Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America.

Monica Pope, that name sounds familiar, is the owner of t’afia in Houston, TX.  Pope was the 2009 Best Chef at the Houston Culinary Awards and a James Beard Award Nominee.  She is a sustainable foods advocate and hosts a local food talk show on Houston’s 1560 AM.

Thierry Rautureau is a native of France and is known as the “The Chef in the Hat.”  He is the owner of Rover’s Restaurant in Seattle and the only chef on tonight other than Samuelsson to actually win a James Beard Award in a any category in Rautureau’s case for Best Chef in The Pacific Northwest.  His French pedigree is stout.

Which brings us to Marcus Samuelsson.  Truly one of the most talented young chefs in America, Marcus was born in Ethiopia, raised in Sweden and trained in Europe.  He is the youngest chef to ever receive two three-star ratings from The New York Times and he is a two-time James Beard Award winner.  He is a food activist, TV show host and best selling author.  His restaurant, Aquavit is consistently one of the most popular in the uber-competitive NYC market.

Tonight the chefs throw a birthday party for actor Mehki Phifer.  Please, Bravo, enough with the stupid “challenges.”  Just put a bunch of talented chefs in a well stocked kitchen and let them cook.

Tweeting Top Chef Masters WK 1

I have to admit that I’m not the biggest Top Chef fan. I don’t watch cooking shows for drama; I watch for food. Top Chef Masters is a different story altogether. I loved last season won by Rick Bayless. Top Chef is one of the most Tweeted shows on TV. Often the Tweets are better than the show itself. So each week I’ll share some of the best 140 or less. Let the snarking begin:

@lillyj fair warning: I will be live-tweeting #topchefmasters. It can be annoying & can have spoilers. xo lillyj

JeffHouck: Feels great to be back in the warm bosom of #topchef. Froggy love daddy? :::squeaky squeaky:::

floridagirlindc: If you are a Top Chef fan in any way shape or form, you’re gonna wanna follow  @lillyj and@JeffHouck. Who are your fave #TopChef tweeters?

AlwaysLegITGirL: #TopChefMasters is back last season

@RealSkipBayless‘ brother was the winner. They’re polar opposites but u can tell they’re brothers

culinarypirate: I want Govind Armstrong on my team <3 #topchefmasters

nSquib: Some of the chefs on #TopChefMasters aren’t exactly masters… *cough*Govind*cough*

lillyj: Susan’s the crazy lesbian-version of Danny DeVito, I’m certain of this. #topchef

tnoe27: Yes! Gas station ingredients on topchefmasters

tifftwin: I would totally eat flaming hot cheeto mac & cheese. But not grilled slim jims. #topchefmasters

friedrice599: #TopChefMasters, Kelly I am glad to have you back in my life again

LanceSturg: I have a problem with #topchefmasters. Why is the $100,000 NOT furnished by the makers of the Glad Family of Products TM ?

JeffHouck: So embarassed. I can’t believe my natual human instinct for sleep got in the way of watching a TV cooking show. #topchefmasters

mlj78: OH Govind Armstrong is H-O-T. #topchefmasters #yummy

vitanga: Cool.

@thebravery are guest judges on #topchefmasters right now.

JeffHouck: :::rubbing eyes:::: What did I miss? Did Kelly Choi swallow a carb?  #topchefmasters

JeffHouck: The Bravery looks unaccustomed to eating food, much less not slouching. #topchefmasters

lillyj: We should drink every time someone says, “I want to win.” Well no crap, Why bother being here otherwise.  topchef

JeffHouck: If I had called for “Obama” mentions in the #topchef Masters drinking game, I’d be drunker than Charlie Sheen by now.

JeffHouck: Math quiz: If #topchefmasters is on at 11. and you sleep through the first 14 minutes, how many Prius commercials did you miss?

culinarypirate: Oooh, Govind knows how to talk some culinary sh*t.  #topchef

JeffHouck: Carpaccio was my favorite Ninja Turtle. #topchef

patrickjd: Gael Greene would break her own hip to ride that stallion aka Govind Armstrong #topchef

thebookpolice: God, am I hoping for a total flameout from Ludo. What a tool. #TopChefMasters

lillyj: I could never be with a vegan. Or vegetarian. It would be too… annoying. #topchef

culinarypirate: Tony, you will NEVER steal Obama’s heart from Rick Bayless! #topchef

arosey: My wife cooked chicken marsala when we first started dating. Last meal she ever cooked for me. 5 years ago. I hope they do better! #topchef

lillyj: “Mac and cheese is an exploration of bland”? OH REALLY? Sit your hipster ass down, who do you think you are? Yelp Elite? (burn!) #topchef

culinarypirate: Wait, who are these guys? #topchef

JeffHouck: I think the gardenia goiter is slowly swallowing Kelly Choi. #topchef

lillyj: What weighs more.. the flower in her hair or her? #topchef

stephmarch: Why is Govind such an ass? #topchefmasters

thesupermikey: what have we learned on tonight’s #topchefmasters – Govind Armstrong is an asshole.

kittenwithawhip: Noting that I’ve been as much looking forward to @jeffhouck‘s #topchefmasters coverage as I have the actual show.

lillyj: Susan’s the crazy lesbian-version of Danny DeVito, I’m certain of this. #topchef

Funfearlessbean: Ana can make her duck dish for me anytime! #topchef

JeffHouck: What a shock. The Obama chef won his first show. Just like last season. We’re gonna run out of Obama chefs at this rate. #topchef

lillyj: Would you rather have dinner with: gourmet hats, pretentious editor, moley critics or the hungry? I vote hats. #topchef

ActsofFaithblog: Aww Govind was bringing the pretty to the table. Bye. #topchefmasters

lillyj: OMGOMGOMGOMG Hank Azaria is gonna be a guest judge?! “C’mon Gloria!” #topchef

@culinarypirate Thx for all the fun #TopChef ppl! Tune in to @JeffHouck‘s & my TopChef Podcast tomorrow! http://afx.cc/d7p

Next Wednesday you can follow for yourself by going HERE or HERE but you’re probably better off letting me do all the grunt work.

Camille Ford and the New Culinary Cuties

Food and sex have been kindred spirits ever since that first cro magnon man landed a mate because of his ability to hunt.  It was around 300 BC that Epicurus first equated the two in philosophical terms.  The belief that a person’s life ambition should be centered on the pursuit of modest pleasures in order to attain a state of tranquility now bares his name.  Epicureanism is the PG-13 cousin of Hedonism and has at its core the belief that one should never pass up the chance for an extravagant meal or generous lover.

Nothing has changed in the thousands of years since.  Take blogger extraordinaire Jennifer Iannolo for instance.  In addition to her work with the Gilded Fork, Jennifer has also caused quite a stir with her Sex on a Plate attitude which she exhibits on her blog Food Philosophy that is dedicated to food, sexuality and sass.  Food based television programming  is no stranger to the concept either.

Camille Ford and the New Culinary Cuties on WannabeTVchef.comOddly enough it was the Style Network that introduced American audiences to the concept of “food porn” with the British import, Nigella Bites starring the effervescent Nigella Lawson.  The saucy Brit with the plunging neckline soon had many imitators like Food Network’s Sandra Lee, Giada De Laurentiis and Ingrid Hoffman all of whom have tastefully celebrated their ample curves.  And who can forget Cat Cora AND Rachael Ray tripping saucy in the pages of men’s magazine FHM.

That was the first wave and it was soon followed by Bravo’s Padma Lakshmi and Kelly Choi from the network’s two Top Chef franchises and two more Food Network hosts, Gina Neely and Anne Burrell.  And there has been some eye candy for the ladies like Jamie Oliver and Tyler Florence on Food Network and TLC’s Curtis Stone.  But now there is a new wave of haute cuisine hotties looking to lure more male viewers to networks whose regular viewership is predominately female.

Camille Ford and the New Culinary Cuties on WannabeTVchef.comEarlier this year Food Network kicked it off with the Private chefs of Beverley Hills which chronicles six chefs (three male, three female including Sasha Perl-Raver who has been named one of LA’s hottest chefs) that are all considerably easy on the eyes as they cater, literally, to the BOTOX® crowd.  And of course many of their clients also look as if they just stepped out of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue.

Camille Ford and the New Culinary Cuties on WannabeTVchef.comNow get ready for the full court press.

Travel Channel fired first with Food Wars host Camille Ford.  Each week she takes viewers to cities across America to decide which local eatery makes the best example of their town’s signature dish.  In 2008 Camille founded Sassy Pole Girls a fitness group that uses striptease and pole dancing for exercise.  But Ford is much more than a pretty face and rock hard abs, she is the award-winning producer of the Off Broadway production Jitter.  She is also an avid adventurer often spending her free time rock climbing, kayaking, water skying, snow skying and hiking.  Camille Ford is the consummate modern woman who proves that feminism is wrong, you do not have to choose between intellectual and beautiful.  For more of Camille Ford in action watch full episodes of Food Wars online HERE.

Camille Ford and the New Culinary Cuties on WannabeTVchef.comFood Network, not wanting to be outdone, came back with season six of The Next Food Network Star which featured a cougar (Dzintra Dzenis), a pocket hottie (Doreen Fang), a Giada clone (Serena Palumbo) and a self-proclaimed diva (Brianna Jenkins) plus three hunks – Herb Mesa, Darrell “DAS” Smith and Brad Sorenson.  Sorenson especially seemed to resonate with female viewers who gushed over his dimpled smile via Twitter and the blogsophere throughout the contest.  The young chef even made an impression on guest star Eva Longoria who openly flirted with him during one segment.

Camille Ford and the New Culinary Cuties on WannabeTVchef.comCamille Ford and the New Culinary Cuties on WannabeTVchef.comThey followed that up with their newest reality show, The Great Food Truck Race which pits seven lunch wagons against each other in a cross country race, ala the Cannonball Run.  Two of the teams feature ladies who are already beginning to rack up Google searches.  They are Nom Nom Truck co-owners Misa Chien (who has also been named one of LA’s hottest chefs) and Jennifer Green and Rajun Cajun’s very own Creole princess Jazmina Banionis.  While Banionis is an aspiring actress and model, Chien and Green all about the food.

Sheetal Bhagat of MasterChefEven Fox’s MasterChef has gotten into the mix.  How lucky are they that two of the fifty finalists to make the final four were the breathtakingly beautiful Sheetal Bhagat and the adorable Southern belle Whitney Miller?  Miller is a student from Poplarville, MS while Bhagat is a cooking instructor from Chicago who apparently has designs on being a star.  On her web site there are MP3’s of her original music, a gallery of photos that look straight from a Cosmo spread, her MasterChef diary and links to her cooking videos.

And “the Online” has its share of haute cuisine hotties as well.  There’s the Bikini Chef Susan Irby who’s known for her figure flattering flavors and the Kitchen Vixen Elizabeth Brown is single-handedly responsible for making “quinoa” a popular Sara O'Donnel is Average Betty and Susan Irby the Bikini Chefsafe word.  And one would be remiss to not mention the super fly red head who has a voice as so hot it could melt an iceberg, Average Betty.

Is this a trend that will continue?  Frankly, I hope so.  I know there will be critics who say that these women are just being exploited for their looks but that is just code wording for all pretty people are stupid.  I say as long as the pretty faces and muscle bound chefs can actually cook no sane person could have a problem with it.

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Stuart in 80 Words or Less

Stuart is a celebrity chef, food activist and award-winning food writer. He penned the cookbooks Third Coast Cuisine: Recipes of the Gulf of Mexico, No Sides Needed: 34 Recipes To Simplify Life and Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor." His recipes have been featured in Current, Lagniappe, Southern Tailgater, The Kitchen Hotline and on the Cooking Channel.

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Stuart’s Honors & Awards

2015 1st Place Luck of the Irish Cook-off
2015 4th Place Downtown Cajun Cook-off
2015 2nd Place Fins' Wings & Chili Cook-off
2014 2015 4th Place LA Gumbo Cook-off
2012 Taste Award nominee for best chef (web)
2012 Finalist in the Safeway Next Chef Contest
2011 Taste Award Nominee for Little Grill Big Flavor
2011, 12 Member: Council of Media Tastemakers
2011 Judge: 29th Chef's of the Coast Cook-off
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Wing Cook-off
2011 Cooking Channel Perfect 3 Recipe Finalist
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Gumbo Cook-off
2011 Culinary Hall of Fame Member
2010 Tasty Awards Judge
2010 Judge: Bayou La Batre Gumbo Cook-off
2010 Gourmand World Cookbook Award Nominee
2010 Chef2Chef Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2010 Denay's Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2009 2nd Place Bay Area Food Bank Chef Challenge
2008 Tava: Discovery Contest Runner-up

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