Monday, October 8, 2007

Season 4 Contestants Continue to Sweat it Out in Chicago

As the summer-like heat rolls on in Chicago, so do the Cheftestants of Season 4.

The chefs taped a segment over the weekend on Richmond Street in Ravenswood - Bravo seems to really love hiding in Chicago's little-known neighborhoods! Rick Bayless, the award-winning owner of Chicago's Frontera Grill and Topolobampo, took a turn as guest judge, and Padma, Tom, Ted Allen, and Lee Anne were in attendance as well. Over Saturday and Sunday, contestants were divided into two teams, who invaded four homes and cooked in their kitchens. The chefs then served their food on the street as part of a neighborhood "block party", complete with a dunking booth and bouncy house. Sounds like they had a good time, despite the almost 90-degree heat!

Guest Judge Rick Bayless has certainly had an exciting week, as he also hosted another group of "top chefs" last Friday, as part of Charlie Trotter's blowout 20th anniversary celebration. Joining him for lunch were Ferran Adria of Spain's El Bulli, Heston Blumenthal of England's The Fat Duck, and Mattias Merges (Trotter's Chef de Cuisine), who all later enjoyed what may have been "the last supper" at Schwa (which "closed indefinitely" one day later). I only wish I could have been invited to / been able to afford the crown jewel of the weekend: Trotter's $5000 a plate dinner, cooked by chef-legends Adria and Bluementhal, as well as Daniel Boulud, Tetsuya Wakuda, Pierre Herme, and Thomas Keller (French Laundry). Proceeds went to charity.

In other Top Chef 4 news, I am nearly convinced that they are using the Calphalon Institute as their home-base kitchen. I have been told they have or will use the Illinois Institute of Art, but I've been by there a few times and not seen any evidence of The Chefs. A call over to the Chicago Cooking & Hospitality Institute led me to believe it wasn't there either. Plus, the Calphalon Institute has ceased "public" classes -- they only conduct private cooking classes or workshops for groups now. Hmm, maybe like... a "private" group of "15" chefs from "Bravo"?

And finally, the Top Chef 3 crew bid their last goodbyes to Chicago and each other last Thursday night with a proper blow-out party after the taping of the TC3 Reunion Show (to air this Wednesday evening). One of the things many viewers including myself liked best about this season was the lack of "drama" and "villians", and the fact that the chefs genuinely appeared to like each other and get along. Andy Cohen only confirms this further as he writes via blog: "Miami sent out such positive group vibes: they were so psyched to be back together and pretty much all of them said at some point how sad they were about being at the end of the Top Chef road". He then goes on to tell of the cast and crew's post-reunion-show shenanigans which started at Rockit (one of my fave spots), and continued at The Underground, where the group "danced their faces off" to the beats of DJ AM and enjoyed "flowing bottle service" until the wee hours of the morning. "It was kinda like graduation night" reminisces Andy: "It was a joyous night and The Underground was fantastic".

Ok Andy, now that TC3 is over its time to give us some DISH about TC4!!

Ears open...


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