HOME > Chowhound > Food Media & News >


Chef Academy on Bravo

I'm surprised that no one has posted about this show yet. It's another in the line of reality cooking shows on Bravo. It's absolutely terrible, but I'm a sucker for cooking shows, no matter how bad so I'm hooked. Along the lines of Hell's Kitchen it it totally edited for drama. They picked a group of "students" purely based on their personality/TV persona, there are only maybe one or two that seem to be able to cook. I mean "The Porn Star", "The OC Housewife", etc. Ugh. Though the chef actually does show some good recipes/techniques (I'm dying to try making that carmel basket).

Though as bad as it is nothing, and I do mean nothing, is as bad as The Naughty Kitchen. Worst Show Ever! And yes I am hooked on that too :)

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Whoops I just saw the other thread on this, I did not get the connection that this guy was the world's sexiest chef. I just don't see it!

    3 Replies
    1. re: AmblerGirl

      I don't see it either. In fact, I don't think i've EVER seen a sexy male chef, although I thought Danny from Hell's Kitchen was cute. Hmmmm... food for thought.

      1. re: CookieWeasel

        "In fact, I don't think i've EVER seen a sexy male chef,"
        hellooo...Eric Ripert!!!

        1. re: CookieWeasel

          Eric Ripert, Gordon Ramsay, and Rocco Dispirito all come to mind right away :D.

          I think I have a fetish for male chefs, though. *swoon*

      2. I have a totally different take on the show.

        I actually don't think it's terrible. I expected it to be really bad, but i liked that the chef focused on picking students (not on their personality) but on what food/cooking meant to them. And whether or not he was chosen by (by who anyway?) as the world's sexiest chef seems totally irrelevant.

        I like that some of the "students" are trained in some culinary school and others are self-taught. I like that he's demanding, but not screaming at any of them. I like that the students and viewers are getting recipes and techniques. I like his clueless gay assistant. I like that the other chef (Kitchen? -- what a great name) -- the English guy -- is steady and not flashy and supportive.

        I will continue to watch. And I do not EVER watch Hell's Kitchen because it for me just an opportunity for Ramsay to yell at people for not knowing how to cook who were chosen because they don't know how to cook and for what you describe about being totally edited for drama.

        1 Reply
        1. re: chicgail

          I like it, too. I like that he genuinely seems to want his students to do well, and that he's as lavish with his praise as he is with his criticisms. I like that I can actually learn some interesting cooking tips and there's actually quite a bit of cooking.

          I think the problem with the show comes from the necessity of manufacturing some kind of dramatic narrative -- because, frankly, a bunch of people learning how to cook doesn't make for much of a television series. I thought it was interesting, for example, that some of the participants are thinking of it like a competition, when in fact it isn't. But we're so used to the structure of competitive reality shows that it's hard to envision one that isn't a competition.

        2. It's been posted about... I don't think it's terrible at all. I was ready for it to be unwatchably bad, but it's not.

          1. i finally just saw an episode the other night, and i actually enjoyed it. i like that their tests are cumulative so we can see whether or not each of the chefs grows/learns/improves as it goes on, and get a sense of their personalities throughout the season. that OC housewife, however, has GOT to do something about those hot pink talons and the bling. it's distracting and unsanitary - i'm surprised Novelli hasn't said anything to her.

            1. I love it! I'm hooked! And I find myself rooting for the always-late porn star Emanuel and the bling-bling pannekaker-making Swedish-American. Wow-- it is such a great feeling to be excited over a cooking show again. Keep it up, Bravo!

              1. I am also suprised at how much I like this show. The chef was so boring when he judged Top Chef, I thought this would be a train wreck. I love the OC Housewife trying to tell the chef how much better she looks without the chef coat. The show is entertaining and I feel I am actually learning something.

                1. I am hooked on this show too- partially because Emmanuel and Suzanne amuse me to no end. I was worried the challenges would end up with the less experienced chefs failing each time, but Suzanne is actually holding her own. I am hoping this week we see something other than dessert.

                  1. I like the show. I feel as though I am really learning something from a trained chef.

                    1. I'm mostly with you Amber. I'm a cooking competition show addict and can't tolerate this one. I don't get the sexiest chef thing either but as someone said, it's actually irrelevant. I was surprised to see that when one student made a salted caramel he not only didn't like it, but seemed shocked that someone would put salt and caramel together. This is a top chef? Where has he been cooking - under a rock? I agree that the cast of characters seem handpicked for drama/ridiculousness with the exception of a few who've shown they have some cooking chops.

                      I part ways with you on the instructional value. To me, the items he selects for the cooking demos to the "students" are rather old school and not in a good Julia Child sort of way. Not sure why his fiance is anywhere in this thing and the whole show is really just a giant promo for his attempt at a new cooking school business and from what I've seen, the CIA has nothing to worry about.

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: laylag

                        Glad I'm not the only one who finds this show fake, stagey and silly. I couldn't make it through the first show, much less watch a second one. Could it be that I'm beginning to shake my Bravo habit? That I'll once again be able to do something productive on weekday nights? If only Rachel Zoe decides to quit, there may be some hope for me!

                        1. re: newhavener07

                          Rachel Zoe I can do without. The same for those over-privileged boy/men who sell real estate in LA. And also any of the housewives from anywhere.

                          I like Chef Academy. But I have a question about the last episode, the one where they made risotto and tomato sauce for their test dishes.

                          The students were told to bring dressy clothes to the test and when Zoe and Kyle were told they passed, they were out of their whites. Zoe was clearly in a party dress and Kyle was in jeans and a shirt. In the very next scene where they were on the rooftop drinking champagne, he was dressed up and she was in a different dress.

                          It was a pretty obvious gaffe. No continuity. Did they change? Why? When? Was it out of sequence? What happened in editing?

                        2. re: laylag

                          Actually he is a "top chef". and probably knows more about what is right and wrong in food that you do. He actually has not been cooking under a rock and if you know anything you know that to get a Michelin star is a very heady accomplishment.

                          And please, nor in a Julia Child sort of way. Welcome to 2009.

                          1. re: trouttr

                            I'm not dissing his Michelin star and I know exactly what that means in the cooking world trout. However, to express disgust at anyone who would put salt in or on a sweet seems a bit out of touch. You may not care for it, but it's certainly not unheard of nor is it a ridiculous thing to do. I'm very well entrenched in 2009 but not sure where you are coming from nor why your tone is so defensive.

                          2. re: laylag

                            I find this show to be so staged that it doesn't bother me as much as it does in other shows that are supposed to be candid but have ridiculous product placement every minute.

                            As with teachers in any subject, there are some who appreciate innovation or using the most modern methods, while others tend to be stuck in the old ways and just want the students to do it their way. I see Novelli as the latter variety. If you do a recipe exactly how he tells you to do it, you will pass. If you take liberties and try to be creative with it, you'll probably fail. I think the strategy would be fine if everyone were starting from a basic level, but with different levels it makes little sense because the more advanced cooks already know how to do the basics.

                            1. re: queencru

                              Perhaps not. I don't think it's unfair for a teacher to want to want his/her students to successfully prove that they can execute the basics before adding new methods or innovations to them, even if they are an experienced chef. Do it his/her way once and then show off.

                              I know that sports coaches will often teach the basics, even to skilled, experienced athletes before honing in on the more complex aspects of the sport.

                              Some of the failed pot au creme attempts that were "innovated" upon and failed were also shown to be dense or otherwise not well executed.

                          3. I have my dvr set to record it, because 11 does not work for me. I have watched all the episodes so far, but I admit I am fast-forwarding thru most of it. I watch the cooking demo & the critiques, but tend to skip the character drama. I guess I'd say it is better than Hell's Kitchen, but nowhere near Top Chef or especially TC Masters.

                            1. I'm still watching. The food looks very good, and inspiring. The characters are ... characters, all of them.

                              It fits right in with the rest bravo's stable of hollywood professional reality shows. Add a sprinkling of top chef, housewife oc, hell's kitchen, elimination competition.

                              I'm wondering, is the whole premise of him opening a US cooking school just made for TV storyline? Online there is no sign of a Novelli Academy in USA, and I think this was taped more than a year ago, as Wikipedia lists his fiance giving birth in Aug 2008.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: dach

                                I don't think that it's at all surprising that the Novelli Academy USA hasn't appeared in its intended form.

                                If Novelli's fiance gave birth in August 2008, this was filmed before Aug. 2008 and I don't know if you recall, but starting in August, but especially Sept. 2008, money pretty much dried up. The economy took a major hit; in fact it almost tumbled into depression. No surprise that this particular small business was hit with that crisis. It was one of many.

                                It may have been a "made for TV storyline," but I doubt it.

                              2. I've been thinking about our OC Housewife, Suzanne is her name.
                                All the others - so we are shown - say they really like her.
                                She isn't dumb and has shown us she can cook.
                                Her bio says she's there to learn.

                                But then you have the self-absorbed "how do I look?" side, highlighted by the tailoring issue. She is VERY concerned how she looks, not necessarily in the kitchen BUT ON TV.

                                My conclusion: While the others applied to be on a a "cooking show" and the promise of skills, money, contacts,
                                Suzanne applied to a _REALITY SHOW_ and the promise of stardom, contacts, smoosing with the TV execs of the show, future appearances, in short she is purposefully working on being one of those "reality tv personalities" we all love and hate (mostly hate :) )

                                Just happens that a cooking reality show fit her skill set - she can cook, probably won't embarrass herself in the kitchen, and all she has to do is be there, look her best, win the hearts of the fans (and production company) and she's well on her way to the celebrity status I believe she's seeking.

                                11 Replies
                                1. re: Tmrock

                                  The reality TV thing is certainly one possible motivation for Suzanne, but it's not the only one. It is possible that she just loves to cook and wanted the opportunity to learn more at a professional level.

                                  I'm certainly willing to give her the benefit of the doubt. At least she didn't crash a White House State Dinner or call the media to report that her son was some runaway balloon.

                                  1. re: chicgail

                                    LOL I have this image in my mind now of her chasing the balloon down the beach

                                    I like her too. Oh, she's nuts, but likeable nuts

                                    They all did apply for a tv show after all, I just think Suzanne was looking for a TV show first - and that's the reason she seems to be more image focused: she understands the potential. If it were just cooking she's after, there are plenty of culinary edu opportunities all around her.

                                    1. re: Tmrock

                                      We do live in a crazy world, don't we?

                                      I'm just not ready to decide what her motivation is yet. You may be right. You may be wrong. They all applied for a TV show. Let's see how it plays out.

                                      1. re: chicgail

                                        Suzanne's World was on last night. What do you think now? :)

                                        (and yikes, 2 strikes!)

                                        1. re: Tmrock

                                          What - or where - was Suzanne's World? I goggled it and didn't come up with anything.

                                          1. re: chicgail

                                            lol silly! it was called "Chef Academy" last night!

                                            And when she was talking about the baby shower she said she wanted everyone to experience 'Susanne's World" or something like that

                                          2. re: Tmrock

                                            I found it a bit appalling, the room with all the dead animals - elephants, giraffes, zebras. Her husband apparently is a big game hunter.

                                    2. re: Tmrock

                                      I feel like Emmanuel is her male counterpart. He seems to be the type to find reality shows that could work for him and apply. It does seem like he does fairly well, but I'm not at all convinced that learning to cook was his main goal.

                                      1. re: queencru

                                        Yep, and he's kind of an enigma to the Chef isn't he.

                                      2. re: Tmrock

                                        I was rooting for Suzanne until the jacket tailoring debacle. Now all I can do is roll my eyes and snort, "Pluh..LEESE! Get over yourself already!" Nevertheless, I still think she is a lot of fun to watch and I can't wait to see what she'll do next.

                                      3. After last night's episode I am inspired to bake bread. And I don't bake bread. Would love the recipe, but it's not on the website.

                                        4 Replies
                                        1. re: chicgail

                                          Just get yourself a basic dough recipe, like what's usually used for pizza. flour, water, yeast, salt.
                                          Don't be put off by the 'pizza dough' label, its bread and its good!

                                          They had only 2 hours to make bread last night. So they probably didn't have more than an hour to let the dough rise, to double. The normal basic pizza dough doubles in a hour and is ready to go. The white bread I bake, uses multiple rise, or proof stages. Takes several hours. My French Bread recipe can take 6 to 8 hours with the several proofing stages.

                                          Nothing like warm fresh bread - you'll be a hero in no time!

                                          1. re: Tmrock

                                            How DID they manage to make bread from scratch in two hours flat? I thought it was an all-day operation...

                                            1. re: Kajikit

                                              Depends on the bread, what you're looking for. The basic dough I was talking about above can easily be mixed, proofed and baked numerous shapes in 2 hours. Long rise times, multiple proof stages, contribute different qualities to the bread - taste, texture the whole 'crust and crumb' thing.

                                              So what they made in two hours was just some good ole basic bread, and it holds the butter just fine! :)

                                          2. re: chicgail

                                            It is on the website, but you have to extract the bread portion from the "Whole Baked Camembert" recipe.

                                          3. No comment on it, just thought some might find this interesting...


                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: laylag


                                              Novelli does seem to know how to use and manipulate media to his benefit. I like the bit about how some British publication named him the fifth sexiest man in 1999. I guess since he was the only chef that high on the list he neatly extrapolated that he was the sexiest chef in the world. Ten years ago anyway.

                                              Anyone know what he's been up to since the filming of this show?

                                                1. re: laylag

                                                  I do have to say I love that Gordon Ramsay tried to punk Novelli but got figured out right away. :-)

                                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                                    "you still have the same smell" lol

                                                    gordon looked like he should be sitting in his wing back chair by the fire, reading Fall of the Roman Empire or something

                                                2. In a fit of snowbound boredom, I decided to give this show another chance. It still sucks. The chef's English is very bad, and every other sentence is subtitled, which is quite distracting. He seems unable to make coherent criticisms of the food in English, either. And call me a commie, but it just bothers me that he "fails" people by throwing perfectly edible dishes in the trash. We're in a serious recession here, and people are going hungry in this country. But turn on Bravo and there's some French idiot dumping dish after dish full of fancy ingredients in the trash. Makes me sick.

                                                  1. this is the first time I've seen this post about this show. I came on here just now to post about this show if someone hadn't already started it. I see I've been beaten to the punch :}

                                                    so when was the last time it aired? I have not seen any new ones in the last couple of weeks, what's up with that? or did I miss some of them along the way? I want to record all of the episodes so I can master his grandmothers tomato sauce, I didn't write it down during the viewing nor did I save the recording, dumb me.

                                                    oh say there, did anyone write "how to's" on the tomato sauce or is anyone aware of if it's online anywhere? I haven't/hadn't checked just thought of it right this sec.

                                                    now if he's sexy or not ''not''. to me anyway. that OC lady is a hoot and the porn guy is cute enough but dangit, why didn't they put something in the newspaper or whatever as I'd have surely applied.

                                                    ratso's................................................missed out again

                                                    6 Replies
                                                      1. re: iL Divo

                                                        I think the website indicates that the next episode will be aired Jan. 4 at 10 pm EST. Something about squid in the title.

                                                        There's also an episode about meat that I don't recall having seen that is airing in non-prime time.

                                                        1. re: chicgail

                                                          I think all the new episodes are being aired Jan 4 and Jan 11- clearly this show was not getting good enough ratings to keep it in a regular time slot.

                                                          1. re: queencru

                                                            Monday night is the regular time slot. A lot of shows are put on hiatus/reruns over the holidays so as not to "waste" new episodes at a time when viewship is very low.

                                                            1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                              There are 4 new episodes running over the course of 2 nights, which to me signals bad ratings even on non-holiday nights.

                                                              1. re: queencru

                                                                They could have just stopped it dead in its tracks, especially after the holiday hiatus, like they did with that network show with pairs of people vying for their own restaurant with Marco Pierre White.

                                                      2. This show was almost watchable - until porn star chef stripped to his apron to serve the others.

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: brooklynkoshereater

                                                          It is god-awful, but I feel strangely compelled to keep watching. I've been disappointed at the lack of new episodes.

                                                          1. re: vorpal

                                                            I know exactly what you're talking about and I'm not even sure what it is I'm waiting to see.

                                                            It's not like someone's going to win something. It's not as if I really care about the contestants. It's not even like I have any faith in French chef dude. From what I've read he's a bit of an exhibitionist. I do like the gay assistant who seems baffled by it all.

                                                            What do you suppose these people thought they'd get out of being on the show? Are they getting a culinary education for free? Some have already been to culinary school. Is it 15 minutes of fame? Were they bored and looking to try out a new job?

                                                            The OC gal and the porn guy fascinate me, but mostly like a car accident. The girl from NY with the foodie family is a little interesting, but I'm not sure what she's doing there. She (and some other guy) have culinary educations. The Chicago-area caterer seems to be an emotional disaster; maybe she will be a better cook. Is the Navy chef going back to cooking on a Naval ship?

                                                        2. Ok I have to give credit to Novelli for the food. We saw his chocolate chicken recipe on the meat show and had to try it. We got the recipe from the Bravo website and it was just fabulous.

                                                          I still thik the contestants are cheesy reality show wanna-be's though! I'm sure Emmanuel will come out of this with his own show!

                                                          1. thanks to whoever showed me how to see the video for the recipe of the tomato sauce.
                                                            I was so mad at myself for deleting that one.

                                                            I love cooking shows. < Sort of period. I am easily amused and think that anything cooking is good tv, for me anyway. This one is seemingly very staged though. I think they tell Suzanne what to say and what to do, example, "fyi, film at 11". but some of the food looks good enough to try and I am curious as to who will pull it off and win

                                                            7 Replies
                                                            1. re: iL Divo

                                                              ok so I watched it. the tomato sauce one.
                                                              he doesn't say what kind of green thing he put in.
                                                              he says later you add basil but when he has only put in the toms/vanilla/star anise, he shows it and it magically contains a green leaf, but no mention of putting it in. oh shoot, I'm confused now

                                                              1. re: iL Divo

                                                                Just a quick note that you can find some of his recipes on the Bravo website as well as on Facebook. Some of the 'chefs' have posted additional recipes to the ones listed on Bravo, including the tomato sauce. the 'green thing' is 1-2 bay leaves. I'm glad to know about the chocolate chicken because that was pretty intriguing to me - it's also on Facebook, btw. The pork belly is nowhere to be found. Sadness, because that dish looks like it just ROCKS!

                                                                1. re: LisainCali

                                                                  The pork belly recipe is also on the Bravo website.

                                                                  Here's a link to it.


                                                                  1. re: trouttr

                                                                    Wow! Thanks, that just went up today!! Measurements don't match what the show had....but I'll worry about that tomorrow..

                                                                  2. re: LisainCali

                                                                    I'm embarrassed to say I don't know what you do with pork belly. Is it just a huge ole chunk of slowly cooked fat? I mean, is there meat on it or just tenderly crusted glazed fat? I don't have a facebook membership so it's not a place I could find recipes but thanks for mentioning it to others as many I know do. What is Maldon Salt? The chocolate chicken sounds wonderful to me too. Thanks for telling me about the bay leaves, he left us flat with that one since he didn't mention it on the video.

                                                                    I liked the show, cheesy a bit yes, but all in all I liked it and wonder if they'll do another one. Sign me up!

                                                                    1. re: iL Divo

                                                                      Pork belly is attached to the ribs on the loin primal of the pig. It is layered with fat and meat. When you cure it and smoke it.. it's called Bacon! Uncured it's used in Chinese, Korean and Japanese cuisine, recently it's become popular to braise here in the USA.

                                                                      1. re: AAQjr

                                                                        as much as we love pork and bacon, I don't want anything that is flanked with so much fat. it's just disgusting, maybe it's a treasure to some but I'll pass.

                                                              2. anyone have the basic bread recipe that no long exists on the website??? much appreciated.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. I 'vaunt' de-show bauch