Sunday, April 18, 2010

Top Chef The Tour

Quick - Can you name the chef who was eliminated during the 9th episode of Top Chef Season 4? How about the chef who went as far as Episode 12 without an Elimination win in Season 6? Names not rolling off your tongue? Then the Top Chef The Tour is just the thing for you.


The announcement at Bravo's website sounds pretty sweet huh? Prizes, food, meeting chefs in person? Meet the Kansas City Tour stop.

the tour

OK so 10:30 AM on an overcast Friday in downtown Kansas City is not the most rocking place. Still enough folks interested in Top Chef showed up to fill up the 64 seats for the first show of 4 "dining experiences". What kinds of Top Chef interactions did they get to experience?


There was the Guess the Ingredient station.



Top Chef Putt Putt Golf, only one hole. Why putt putt golf? No idea what so ever.


Photos with Tom and Padma. Sadly no bears in sight to pose with Tom. There were also plenty of TVs set up with googly eyed NY Housewives bursting forth with their mindless chattering. At any moment I expect them to throw poop at the people watching them. Hint to the Tour Folks, Housewife promos and food don't really mix unless you want to have a Top Chef Vomitorium Station set up back behind the tour bus.

And who were the chefs everyone was here to see?


That would be Eli Kirshtien of Season 6 and Nikki Cascone of Season 4. Now if you notice in the Bravo TV announcement they trumpet the fact that you're going to get a chance to eat the chef's food. If you come expecting to taste Nikki's Purple Depressed Bacon dish or Eli's Fried Egg Reuben Benedict, you're out of luck. If you really want to try the chef's food, go to their restaurants (Nikki - 24 Prince Eli - Solo). That's where Nikki is actually serving the version of Purple Depressed Bacon/Pork Loin with Sweet Potatoes, Grape Sauce, Jus and Brussel Sprouts. Today Nikki and Eli demonstrated how to make your own sausage. Now you know me, if I can link you to the relevant recipe it's in the post. Claims that the recipes they made were on Bravo's recipe website are crap. Honestly, it's just as well, writing accurate and concise recipes is not really Bravo's forté. Basically Eli demoed a pork meatball with sauerkraut, a mustard sauce and some chopped apples.

Tour Meatball

How was it? Heavy on the garlic and really simplistic flavor-wise. Stranger still was the fact that one of the sponsors for the KC Stop was Scimeca's Sausages, a local company that's been making great sausage since 1935. Nice touch to tell the gathered fans to screw the store bought sausage and make your own. But did I get to really eat the chef's food or did I eat a Bravo assistant producer supplied recipe that local chefs hired for the day actually make behind the curtain? Cue up Over the Rainbow please. Shout out to the Culinary Center of Kansas City chefs for their hard work cooking for the day.


Of course it wasn't just about the food. It was about the gossip. It's the behind the scenes chatter of Top Chef that folks want to hear about. Or at least what's contractually allowable (yes, the tour handler made a point of mentioning that little disclaimer). Did I learn anything new? Not really except that the one constant question tour chefs get is How long do you wait in the Stew Room. Answer: Usually 6 to 7 hours if you're lucky. Yes they get drunk and yes they abuse Glad Products stored there. Now when I heard who the tour stop chefs were going to be, I inwardly groaned. Eli was not exactly my fav during the season but I went with an open mind knowing that the pressure of this kind of show exerts on people will make them act out in bizarre ways. What Eli seems to be trying to reform is not so much his image but the people who receive his image. "Get to know me" is Eli's current theme with an undercurrent of his being right all along about Robin being the worst chef and unworthy of being in the Top Chef Fraternity. At some point you hope that Eli will stop trying to convince the world that Robin is horrible and work on being a bit more mature.



Nikki, on the other hand, seems like someone who would be a pleasure to sit down and chat with. Most likely because when she was asked who her favorite guest judge was she responded with Tony Bourdain, not to mention knowing enough to hit the best bbq while in KC, Oklahoma Joe's. When asked what was the most surprising aspect of the show going from viewer to contestant? The pressure. Most of the contestants deal with crushing pressure as it is working in a restaurant but the pressure of your own expectations of your own performance multiplied by the pressure of a time clock and judges table? No wonder these people have nightmares.


So if you're a Top Chef Crack Monkey by all means, hit the tour when it comes to your town. Buy some t-shirts or cook books, play putt putt golf. But if you really want to taste a chef's food and support your Top Chef favorites, seek out their restaurants and put some coin in their pockets. That's the best way you can really get to know a chef.


Making Space said...

Fun secret mission there Shamy! Are those all your photos? The one of Nikki looking over her shoulder is like insanely awesome.

Calming down to say congrats on being able to enjoy the tour stop. Sounds fun and if not too crowded that's kind of a bonus.

Big Shamu said...

Yes, I'm the annoying photog. It's not hard to make pretty people look pretty.

Sharon Rudd said...

Ha! Thanks for the inside scoop, Shamy. Glad you went so this TC Crack Monkey doesn’t have to. Housewives and putt-putt? Sheesh. Meanwhile, Stephanie Izard was in Cincy Friday to do a benefit with local favorite Jean-Robert de Cavel. Now THAT is something I’d go to. Alas, didn’t hear about it until too late to get off work. The Bravo PR machine is kind of schitzy . . .

Big Shamu said...

Kinda schitzy? I'm like you I'd love to see Stephanie anywhere.

LaDivaCucina said...

Gawd, Shamy, I guess I'm so not a Top Chef crack monkey cuz I don't remember all the peeps like you do. Of course I remember Eli but ask me again after two seasons and I'll be like, uh....who?!

I still remember that snarky boy Stephen who was a sommelier. And wolf boy what's his name. I seem to remember the jerks more than the talent!

Anyway, I digress.....

The putt putt thing sounds lame. The fake Tom C. and Padma cutouts are super lame. Don't care about meeting Eli. Wonder why he didn't use the sponsor's sausage to make a dish? strange..I wouldn't let that fly if I was Scimeca.

I like your idea of meeting the chefs by going to their restaurants but have still yet to get to Hi Life.

I am a bad, bad fan. But I appreciate your reporting and La Diva and her bad memory are very glad you don't drink.

Buzz Kill said...

I wonder if there's another blog out there with pictures of you at this event? Bwahahaha I saw a guy with a camrea.

I think it would be interesting to hear the chefs talk live rather than what the Bravo editors want you to hear. Did you ask if Eli still lives with his parents?

The tour comes to Philadelphia but they don't say when or where yet. I'm betting the 2 chefs will be Jenn Carroll and Jenn Zavala because they both hail from Philly. I'll have to keep looking at the schedule.

Big Shamu said...

DIVA!!! Bad Fan!!! Get thyself to Carlos's restaurant PRONTO. And tell him I sent you. For the crabcake alone.

Making Space said...

Wait. Was Eli the guy in the Fuzzi Bunz? Haha I can't believe I remember that.

You gotta take some credit for the Niki photo and the others as well. Awesome eye you got there, you orca you.

Dani said...

Did you get a t-shirt?

Big Shamu said...

Buzz, the guy with the camera was a rep from Time Warner Cable. I don't think he had any interest in taking any snaps of me. As to Eli's living arrangements, unless his parents moved to NY, I doubt he's still gracing them with his presence.

MS, BINGO. Is it bad that I wanted him to autograph a diaper?

Dani, I am NOT, I repeat, NOT giving any of my money to Bravo.

Dani said...

You go girl!

Heff said...

Hell, I don't even know what channel that show comes on, but the event looks like fun !

Making Space said...

Haha an autographed diaper. I could send a representative sample of available colors...

Making Space said...

Perfect FoodGawker submission. Excellent!

Cheftastic said...

The Top Chef Tour Comes to Phildadelphoa-Dilworth Plaza on May 17th. The Chefs are Nikki Cascone from Season 4 and Jamie Lauren from Season 5. I think tickets are still available online, but they are def. available the day of the event