The Secret Is Out!!
Well, the secret is finally out – the season finale of Top Chef was filmed here at Commander’s Palace. It was quite an experience. After working with the fantastic producers Liz Cook and Nan Strait for several months it all came together beautifully and the restaurant transformed into a Hollywood set overnight. What a team they have over at Magical Elves!
Nan and Liz were generous enough with their time to sit down for interviews with me – the producers of a major TV show actually sat and gave interviews for our crazy cocktail site during the production of their season finale. WOW.
The excitement (or shall we say nervousness) began to grow in the kitchen as the clock ticked down and I headed next door to Mom’s to prepare for the evening.
The judges and guest judges then headed upstairs to the Little Room (a dining room that became the dressing room for the day) to visit the make up artist and “get mike-ed” as they say (I needed no touch-ups as my own makeup job passed the artist’s camera ready qualifications, thank you very much. Aunt Adelaide would be so proud).
The evening began upstairs in the Parlor with Sazeracs, Tequila Mockingbird II’s and fantastic hors d’oeuvres. The contestants really blew us away with that course. What a terrible situation they are put in! They’re working in a kitchen they don’t know with surprise ingredients they don’t work with and are given virtually no time to brainstorm and execute the meal. In fact, some of their braver attempts fell flat. There is no way to overestimate the difficulty of working in an unfamiliar kitchen. Add to that bizarre ingredients like a whole alligator.
No we don’t normally have an entire alligator in the middle of the kitchen.
The finalists were all really talented. I certainly had my favorites. I ended up sitting near Fabio – a past contestant. He is a dynamic character and sweet all at once. Across from me was Toby Young – hysterical – pithy. I was glad he wasn’t judging our food. Branford Marsalis was charming and fun – a new friend. Tom Colicchio was a gentleman and a pro. And it is always good to have friends John Besh and Susan Spicer in the house. Susan is a living doll and occasionally when I am working so hard on my business and everything is not coming up roses I always know that Susan is across town doing the same thing. I have always admired her so much. John hit the nail on the head with his food criticisms – but in a very down to earth way. He is always a pleasure. Padma is even prettier in person than on TV.
It was one of the longest 3 course meals I’ve ever experienced but it was a great crowd and a pleasure to be in the company of industry experts. Tom and I did get in a bit of a squabble when I suggested that perhaps “machoism” is to blame for the lack of concentration male chefs put on dessert. He pointed out that one of the contestants tried a dessert and it fell flat (literally – it was a soufflé that didn’t rise) – but at least she tried. We’ll agree to disagree but I’d say that was about as heated as the conversation got.
Well ladies and gents, I’m heading next door to the restaurant and then to celebrate Lundi Gras, but I’ll leave you with this food for thought … when will they produce a TOP BAR CHEF? Though the contestants were offered some of our more exotic cocktail ingredients (Creole Shrubb and St. Germain Elderflower liqueur for example) none of the contestants created cocktails.
So let’s keep the revolution rolling … cheers!