Top Chef 10 Preview: Wolfgang Puck on Going Back to Basics

What a week. Election yesterday, and the premiere of Top Chef: Seattle tonight! As someone who lived in Seattle for the past six years, I’m especially excited to see what beautiful Northwest sights and tasty Seattle restaurants they decide to feature this season. (It doesn’t seem fair; when they did Top Chef in Austin I was in Seattle, then I moved to Austin and they went to Seattle! I just want to befriend Padma!) Anyway, what I’m saying is: I’m psyched for tonight, so obviously I was also psyched when I got the chance to jump on a call with Wolfgang Puck, one of the judges this season, to get a sneak peek at what we can expect from Top Chef 10.

On thing Wolfie (can I call him Wolfie? I feel like we’re BFF at this point, so it’s probably cool) is particularly vehement about is the whole “back to basics” thing that Top Chef is touting this season. He explained: “To me… I judge these chefs on how they can cook an egg… I say, okay, make me an omelet. All these people say they cook in fancy restaurants, but you need to know the basics. Cooking an egg is like cooking a steak or something. Oil, butter, some cream, cook them fast enough so they’re cook on the outside and soft in the center. And it’s amazing how few professional cooks can actually do that.”

Amen, my Austrian brother.

Wolfie says it was interesting to see the new contestants and the choices they make. Some he assumed would be good ended up being very spotty, and a lot of them “tried too hard.” He described the judging experience as, “some terrific dishes where I said ‘wow, I would hire them!’ Then the next show, ‘wow, is that the same person?'”

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Premiering Tonight: Rocco DiSpirito and his Celebrity Parade of a New Bravo Show

That’s right folks, Rocco is back, or wait, has he ever left (The Restaurant)?  Anyway, his own show premieres tonight on Bravo: Rocco’s Dinner Party will pit three chefs against each other, each cooking their signature dish for Rocco. The two that impress him the most go on to cook a dinner party for the host and and his guests. Fortunately, Alan Cummings and Liza Minnelli are his nearest and dearest (and he name drops another handful of celebs!)

I got a chance to chat with Rocco and ask him a few questions about what we can expect from his dinner party.

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The Baking of a Businesswoman

Jenna Huntsberger is living out every amateur foodie’s dream. She’s gone from office wonk to food blogger to professional baker. Her blog, Modern Domestic, has inspired her to get serious, partnering with fellow blogger Stephanie Willis of Adventures in Shaw to launch Whisked! a bakery order business and market stand at one of Washington, D.C.’s most popular farmers’ markets.

Jenna’s story is one that proves food bloggers are not just whiny arm chair critics but people with real talent and love of food. I talked to Jenna on how she came to be co-founder of Whisked!

You went from being a full-time office employee and part-time blogger to real-world baker. What made you take the plunge?
I was really miserable doing office work. It’s not necessarily that I worked for a bad company but I get really bored with a desk job. It never seemed immediate to me. I went to a food networking event and I met the owner of Treet, a bakery in D.C. She was living my fantasy, she was running her own baking business, being her own boss and she loved what she did. Theresa was looking to hire a baker and I asked if she’d consider me. She didn’t think you needed to go to pastry school to be a good baker, which she did but didn’t think it was relevant. I told my job I was going to do a part-time baking job but they were against it, so I quit.

Theresa’s husband got a job in New York so she moved her business there, which is why Treet no longer exists in D.C.

You also worked in the kitchen at Birch & Barley, why didn’t you stay there?

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