HOME > Chowhound > Food Media & News >
What's your latest food quest? Share your adventure

If You Could Only Pick 1 Top Chef Contestant (any season) to Cook You a Meal, It'd Be:

JAB Feb 28, 2011 12:04 PM

Kevin Gillespie for me.

  1. Phaedrus Nov 20, 2012 04:32 AM

    Conflicted. Blais or Izzard I guess.

    Stephen as sommelier, Spike to butcher the meat.

    Carla Hall and Ed Lee for conversation.

    Totally different set of Chefs if TCM is considered.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Phaedrus
      LindaWhit Nov 20, 2012 01:51 PM

      Considering the short work he made of the whole chickens, maybe Hung to butcher the meat?

      1. re: LindaWhit
        huiray Nov 20, 2012 02:03 PM

        But Spike was very good at Tomahawk Steaks. :-)

        1. re: huiray
          Phaedrus Nov 20, 2012 02:15 PM

          That was what I was thinking, the tomahawk steaks.

    2. hal2010 Nov 16, 2012 08:55 PM

      Marcel Vigneron for sure. His sparkling personality and love of foams won me over in season 2

      1. juliejulez Nov 9, 2012 10:43 AM

        Probably Kevin Gillespie too. If we can pick a Masters contestant, I would like Susan Feniger, as long as she can come out and eat with me. She seems fun.

        1. a
          amore1025 Nov 9, 2012 08:06 AM

          Foodie from Charlotte here, formerly from Chicago,I was scared when I moved to the south--not much diverisity in food or ethniticy - at least not eight years ago, Now we have had a great influx of residents from New York or New Jersey. As far as Top Chef--I have had the luck to be able to eat at couple of the winners. Chef Kevin Gillespie --who used to be at Woodfire Grill in Atlanta. We went to a Chefs tasting there with a wine pairing. It was costly and also the best money I have ever spent on food. The courses were incredible..Food was just out of the world and the mixologist and the wine sommelier was great. I have eaten at Richard Blais's Flip Burgers three times. He is a genius! Incredible burgers, sides that you could only dream up. Quality is great for a "Burger Joint" . I would love to try The Spence which is his new place. I have also eaten at Rick Bayless's Mexican Restaurant ( Top Chef Masters) in Chicago..Good but not my very favorite..traditional dished but very high priced and not worth it, ( also takes almost a year to get a reservation). I would have to say that Kevin Gillespie is very very talented and is exciting in his preparation of food! ..I would have to say --he is my favorite!

          1. c
            chefathome Nov 7, 2012 06:50 PM

            Harold Dieterle for me.

            2 Replies
            1. re: chefathome
              AdamD Nov 8, 2012 03:38 PM

              +1 and very surprised there are not more votes. Second would be Dale after a doobie or several drinks. :)

              1. re: AdamD
                chefathome Nov 8, 2012 05:11 PM

                Surprises me, too. Though I really liked Dale too, I would have to pick Richard Blais as my second. Have a feeling he may not be as much fun as Dale, though. He's sort of intense but so am I in ways.

            2. r
              rccola Nov 7, 2012 06:49 PM

              My grandmother--if she weren't dead and had had the patience for Top Chef--which would never have happened. Micro greens carefully arranged? No way.

              1. John E. Nov 6, 2012 10:25 AM

                I would choose Mike Midgley. His Cheeto Amuse-Bouche was great.

                1. e
                  el bandito Nov 2, 2012 06:59 PM

                  I"m a little late to the party, and while there are many good choices, put me down for Jen Carrol.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: el bandito
                    Shrinkrap Nov 2, 2012 07:35 PM

                    A LITTLE late? I think the part has moved to a new location! (smile).

                  2. j
                    jackbauer Mar 8, 2011 12:29 PM

                    Clay Bowen without a doubt.

                    1. l
                      lawgirl3278 Mar 8, 2011 04:50 AM

                      I've eaten at Perilla already, which I loved, so I'd say either Kevin G. or Carla. Although I think I'd enjoy watching Hung prepare the cereal smurf village again :)

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: lawgirl3278
                        LiveRock Mar 8, 2011 08:47 AM

                        if Casey and I had a love child and...oh wait uhm....

                        Actually for the same reasons as Taos, because they seem to cook the food I would want to eat...Masters would definitely be Jonathan Waxman and Regular would be Kevin Gillespie.

                      2. Miss Needle Mar 7, 2011 05:46 PM

                        I'd probably say Stephanie Izard. Even though contestants like Richard Blais and Michael Voltaggio have some interesting looking food out, I think I'd prefer the cooking of Izard. Her food seems very approachable yet with a bit of a funky twist.

                        From the Masters candidates -- hmmm.... that's where it gets a bit harder. I've eaten some of their food so I'd probably pick somebody new that I would like to try. I would probably say Rick Tramanto. He's worked with Pierre Gagnaire (somebody that I ADORE!), and I've heard wonderful things about Tru.

                        1. c
                          cigarmedic4 Mar 7, 2011 03:34 PM

                          From Masters: Rick Moonen, hands down. From regular series: Lee Anne Wong. From Just Desserts: Not a damn one of them.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: cigarmedic4
                            gaffk Mar 8, 2011 02:44 PM

                            Yeah, I can't believe I actually watched that whole season of Just Desserts . . .Never. Again.

                            1. re: gaffk
                              mcf Mar 9, 2011 06:33 AM

                              I managed to gag through two episodes, mid season. It was the pits, I don't think I liked anyone.

                          2. t
                            taos Mar 7, 2011 03:09 PM

                            There's a difference between excelling at the Top Chef format the requires performing a variety of strange tasks in a short period of time (cook a meal from a vending machine, catch your own seafood and cook it, etc.) and preparing one good meal of your or your diner's choosing.

                            So, with that in mind I picked chefs that cooked food I like and that I think would cook a meal I'd want to eat:
                            MASTERS: Hubert Keller or Maria Hines
                            REGULAR: Stephanie Izard or Carla Hall

                            1. f
                              fara Mar 6, 2011 06:42 PM

                              kevin, winner of season 7 seemed like he made really consistently tasty food. and of course kevin gillespie would also be one. if i knew they'd be at the top of their game for the whole meal, it would be carla.

                              1. rabaja Mar 3, 2011 09:15 AM

                                Where's the love for Harold?
                                He was my first TC love, he still stands as the one for me. Harold has heart, people.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: rabaja
                                  LindaWhit Mar 7, 2011 04:09 AM

                                  rabaja, I loved Harold in his season. I agree - my first TC love. I think he could be in the mix; but after seeing Stephanie Izard's and Kevin Gillespie's plates, he drops into a 3rd place finish. :-)

                                  1. re: LindaWhit
                                    rabaja Mar 7, 2011 12:00 PM

                                    Thanks Linda! I don't even remember his food, he was just so goofy and sweet.

                                    1. re: LindaWhit
                                      gaffk Mar 8, 2011 02:43 PM

                                      Yes, I remember Harold was simple, American food. Had he been more recent, he may have been more in the front of my memory (I do remember I loved his approach).

                                      He now has a Thai restaurant as well . . . maybe worth a visit to NYC?

                                  2. g
                                    gastrotect Mar 3, 2011 07:35 AM

                                    It would honestly be depending on the day, time and my mood. But my immediate reaction was Kevin Gillespie. The Voltaggio Brothers, Carla, Richard and Dale T all rank highly for me too. Also, Stephanie. I really liked everything about her in her season.

                                    1. aching Mar 3, 2011 06:40 AM

                                      I haven't watched all of the seasons, but based on what I have seen, I agree - KEVIN GILLESPIE!!! Love him.

                                      1. NellyNel Mar 2, 2011 05:54 AM

                                        My first thought was Kevin Gillespie, but I am also torn between the Volt bros.
                                        Totally different styles, but I like ALL kinds of food!

                                        If I could watch the chef cook, then there would be no question at all - absolutely - Stefan!

                                        5 Replies
                                        1. re: NellyNel
                                          512window Mar 2, 2011 12:08 PM

                                          That's who I was thinking of too. You know you'd have a blast with him.

                                          1. re: 512window
                                            goodhealthgourmet Mar 2, 2011 04:38 PM

                                            NellyNel has made no secret of her 'fondness' for Stefan ;)

                                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                              NellyNel Mar 3, 2011 05:38 AM


                                              You know it!

                                              GHG - I'm surprised you didnt go for Tre!

                                              1. re: NellyNel
                                                goodhealthgourmet Mar 3, 2011 10:22 AM

                                                of course you know i love to *watch* me some Tre :) he seems like a very talented chef, but i think the Volt brothers could out-cook him, and in this case i'm focusing on the food!

                                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                                  NellyNel Mar 3, 2011 11:20 AM

                                                  Only a woman that truly loves her food would say that!

                                        2. mcf Mar 1, 2011 02:26 PM

                                          Michael Voltaggio.

                                          1. chris2269 Mar 1, 2011 01:35 PM

                                            Michael Voltaggio. Haven eaten at The Dinning Room at Langham and eagerly awaiting the opening of Ink in LA. He would be my choice

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: chris2269
                                              Ruth Lafler Mar 2, 2011 10:01 AM

                                              Yeah, although I hate to say it, but for one meal I'd probably pick Michael Voltaggio as well. His food just seems to have the right combination of refined technique and panache (more than his brother's which seemed a bit safer and fussier). But as for whose restaurant I'd want to patronize on a regular basis, probably Kevin or Stefanie.

                                            2. c
                                              Cherveny Mar 1, 2011 12:57 PM

                                              Hmm, for regular Top Chef, probably would be Blais, he seems to combine the best of being innovative with still producing tasty food. For Masters, it's a toss up for me between Hubert Keller, who looks like he produces great food, and Wiley Defrense (hope I spelled that right) for his innovative techniques that I know I'd probably not see again in some time.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: Cherveny
                                                jiminy Mar 1, 2011 03:43 PM

                                                It's a tough one for masters Suser had a great place in Toronto, very good meal, but I think I would have to go with Wylie, the no reservations episode made him alright in my book

                                              2. ChefJune Mar 1, 2011 10:05 AM

                                                Stephanie Izard. Everything about her -- food, attitude, presentations, her whole mien -- attracted me to her from the first episode. ( Not to mention she has a terrific reputation in Chicago).

                                                Although I wouldn't turn down a meal from that hottie, Tre. I think the food would probably be enhanced just be cause it was him preparing it.;)

                                                I have eaten the food of Ariane Duarte and Kevin Sbraga, and would be delighted to do so again.

                                                As for the Masters, I have eaten in quite a number of their restaurants. The only place I would NOT go back to is Bayless'. But my favorite is Rick Moonen. Fish is my specialty, too, and he does them so well. Besides, we've been friends for years.

                                                Love love love Hubert Keller, Tony Mantuano, Marcus Samuelson, Susan Feniger.... and of course, my girl, Jody. We've been friends longer than Rick and I.

                                                So much for "just one!" (rolling eyes)

                                                14 Replies
                                                1. re: ChefJune
                                                  lenwood Mar 1, 2011 12:30 PM

                                                  Do tell about Bayless. Watching the show made me really really want to try his mole.

                                                  1. re: lenwood
                                                    mattstolz Mar 1, 2011 02:34 PM

                                                    ive used to recipe from the site at least five times already, which is really sayin something cuz it takes like five hours!

                                                    its delicious!!!

                                                    1. re: mattstolz
                                                      Dee S Nov 8, 2012 01:26 PM

                                                      Yeah....that mole is pretty awesome! Time consuming but so worth the effort. He and Diana Kennedy are my go-tos for Mexican cooking. Mostly Bayless though.

                                                      I couldn't choose any one contestant. I'd have to go back and watch all the seaons first! I live somewhat close to Nashville so I could try Arnold's restaurant....I'm a few more hours from Atlanta so Hugh Acheson and Kevin Gillespe are not far away.

                                                      I'll just have to pass on this one!

                                                      1. re: mattstolz
                                                        huiray Nov 17, 2012 06:43 AM

                                                        D'you mean the Oaxacan mole negro? That's a yummy one. I've had his lamb and that mole dish at Topolobampo and it was simply scrumptious. The perfectly-cooked lamb didn't hurt.

                                                    2. re: ChefJune
                                                      Neecies Mar 1, 2011 03:01 PM

                                                      ChefJune, make that Tre shirtless and I'll join you. I'll even bring the wine. :)

                                                      1. re: ChefJune
                                                        Pylon Mar 2, 2011 07:14 AM

                                                        I've eaten Bayless' food, and found it to be outstanding. I'll take your table if you don't want it.

                                                        1. re: Pylon
                                                          goodhealthgourmet Mar 2, 2011 08:55 AM

                                                          and i'd love the extra seat if you've got one!

                                                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                                            Pylon Mar 7, 2011 09:31 AM

                                                            GHG, you are always welcome at any table I pilfer.

                                                            CJ - I've never had a bad meal there, but you may have a larger sample size since I've only been once. I was there just after the filmed (but before the aired) the TCM S1 finale. I flat out Isabellaed the guac they made at the table (meaning I watched them, stole the recipe and impressed others with it). It was a great meal.

                                                            1. re: Pylon
                                                              LindaWhit Mar 7, 2011 10:29 AM

                                                              "I flat out Isabellaed the guac they made at the table..."
                                                              ROFLMAO! OK, that is SO going into my vernacular, Pylon!

                                                              1. re: Pylon
                                                                goodhealthgourmet Mar 7, 2011 05:37 PM

                                                                Pylon, thank you for the standing invite, and you're always welcome at any table of mine :) and that Isabella comment was PRICELESS. you know you've made it big when your name becomes a verb!

                                                                1. re: Pylon
                                                                  ChefJune Mar 8, 2011 12:02 PM

                                                                  Pylon: After my first visit there, I was saying the same as you. Many visits later, food is uneven, and so is the service. Wish I could say different. He is a GREAT teacher.

                                                              2. re: Pylon
                                                                ChefJune Mar 2, 2011 09:15 AM

                                                                Used to live in Chicago. I've eaten there when the food was FABulous, and also when it was, frankly, less than "meh." And Bayless was in the kitchen every time.. There are better Mexican restaurants in Chicago, if not as highly publicized.

                                                                OTOH, he writes excellent recipes (or someone writes them for him) and they all have worked, every time -- in my experience.

                                                                1. re: ChefJune
                                                                  centralpadiner Mar 7, 2011 11:16 AM

                                                                  Yeah, gotta say when I was in Chicago husband and I were less than impressed at Frontera Grill. Yes, he was there, saw him back in the kitchen and out. I honestly never understood the love... he seems beyond cocky to me. I'm a little more than over what I perceive as a 'holier than thou' attitude.

                                                                  As to original thread... don't know if I could choose. Keller, for sure, in Masters. I'm really torn between Izard, B. Voltaggio, and Blais . . . and Harold (can never spell his last name creeps in there too).

                                                                2. re: Pylon
                                                                  chicgail Nov 8, 2012 04:32 AM

                                                                  You'd have to wrestle me for it.

                                                              3. LindaWhit Mar 1, 2011 09:01 AM

                                                                Ditto on Kevin Gillespie, but Stephanie Izard is a close second. I almost *always* liked the look of her dishes.

                                                                For TCM - Hubert Keller.

                                                                8 Replies
                                                                1. re: LindaWhit
                                                                  chicgail Nov 8, 2012 04:31 AM

                                                                  Her food is great. I've eaten at Girl and the Goat. I would love to eat Richard Blaise's food, and while the Volt bros are unquestionably skilled, there seemed to be something a little cold about them that has to be reflected in the food. Precise and brillant but with little soul. I guess that's why I lean toward Izard, Blaise - oh, and Gillespie..

                                                                  1. re: chicgail
                                                                    LindaWhit Nov 8, 2012 05:34 AM

                                                                    yeah, I agree with the "coldness" - but only of Michael Voltaggio. Brian seemed a bit more human. :-)

                                                                    And lucky you to have eaten at Girl and the Goat.

                                                                    1. re: LindaWhit
                                                                      chicgail Nov 9, 2012 03:54 AM

                                                                      I'm a Chicago girl and GATG is a very touch res to get, but really worth it.

                                                                      I've also eaten at Sprout, Dale Levitsky's place and the night we were there (with my son the chef) so were Carla and Tiffany. Carla was every bit as sweet and charming as she appears on TV. Tiffany was surprisingly pretty but very clearly didn't want to be disturbed.

                                                                      1. re: chicgail
                                                                        juliejulez Nov 9, 2012 10:41 AM

                                                                        I actually ate as a WALK IN at GATG, but this was in like August of 2010, pretty shortly after it opened. It was like 5pm on a Sunday. We sat at the community-style tables (which we were told were reserved for walk-ins, not sure if it's still that way) in the back, which my friend and I actually preferred as we faced the open kitchen all throughout our meal. Stephanie was there expediting. The food was absolutely amazing.

                                                                        1. re: juliejulez
                                                                          chicgail Nov 10, 2012 05:45 AM

                                                                          That's really lucky. Good for you!

                                                                      2. re: LindaWhit
                                                                        huiray Nov 17, 2012 06:43 AM

                                                                        Well, you can have a meal from Bryan Voltaggio if you dine at Volt. Or from Michael Voltaggio if you ate at Ink.
                                                                        p.s. Table 21 at Volt is excellent. Great value too.

                                                                      3. re: chicgail
                                                                        chowser Nov 19, 2012 04:35 PM

                                                                        Bryan isn't really cold, as much as quiet but friendly. But, it could come off as cold on TV. Perfectionist but not in the same Blais seems.

                                                                      4. re: LindaWhit
                                                                        huiray Nov 17, 2012 06:47 AM

                                                                        Stephanie Izard's food is very nice, yes, and I've eaten at GATG too. Great roasted goat too.

                                                                        I agree with choosing Hubert Keller from TCM as my chef-of-choice for my meal.

                                                                        From the regular TC my choice would be Michael Voltaggio.

                                                                      5. j
                                                                        jcattles Mar 1, 2011 08:36 AM

                                                                        Ditto on Kevin Gillespie.

                                                                        That's my final answer, but settling on just one is hard.

                                                                        I'd have to put Dale Talde & Bryan Voltaggio up there pretty high too.

                                                                        If I was choosing a TC Master, I think I'd have to go with Rick Bayless hands down with Jonathon Waxman & Hubert Keller a close second.

                                                                        1. gaffk Mar 1, 2011 04:16 AM

                                                                          I'll go the Masters route . . . Hubert Keller.

                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                          1. re: gaffk
                                                                            araknd Mar 1, 2011 07:39 AM

                                                                            +1 for Keller

                                                                            1. re: araknd
                                                                              jeanmarieok Mar 3, 2011 10:53 AM

                                                                              Make that +2

                                                                              And Kevin Gillespie if we are only talking about Top Chef....

                                                                          2. b
                                                                            brooklynkoshereater Feb 28, 2011 06:52 PM

                                                                            Volt brothers or Hung. Although it'd be fun mess with season one sommelier Stephen's head for a while. maybe hide his watch fob.

                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                            1. re: brooklynkoshereater
                                                                              goodhealthgourmet Feb 28, 2011 07:15 PM

                                                                              nah, if you REALLY wanted to mess with Stephen's head you could bring your own plonk - 2 Buck Chuck, a box of Franzia, Sutter Home white zin - and insist on drinking it with the meal.

                                                                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                                                                gaffk Mar 1, 2011 04:17 AM

                                                                                Now that *would* be fun . . . I bet his head would explode :)

                                                                                1. re: gaffk
                                                                                  mattstolz Mar 1, 2011 05:04 AM

                                                                                  i think itd just be fun to tell him that i dont drink. what would he do??? does he even know how to prepare food that doesnt involve a wine pairing to hold it up??

                                                                                  1. re: mattstolz
                                                                                    goodhealthgourmet Mar 1, 2011 09:44 AM

                                                                                    he'd certainly be a lot less chatty if you took away his excuse to lecture you on everything you never even cared to know about each glass he was pouring.

                                                                            2. ipsedixit Feb 28, 2011 06:37 PM

                                                                              Susur Lee

                                                                              8 Replies
                                                                              1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                                goodhealthgourmet Feb 28, 2011 07:12 PM

                                                                                i was waiting for someone to go the Masters route. that's a choice i really couldn't make.

                                                                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                                                                  ipsedixit Feb 28, 2011 07:24 PM

                                                                                  that's a choice i really couldn't make.

                                                                                  Going the Masters route? Or choosing Lee?

                                                                                  1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                                    goodhealthgourmet Feb 28, 2011 07:39 PM



                                                                                    too hard.

                                                                                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                                                                      ipsedixit Feb 28, 2011 07:42 PM

                                                                                      Actually, your answer suggests you meant "both" right?

                                                                                      Can't go the Masters route AND can't choose any of the Master cheftestants.

                                                                                      1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                                        goodhealthgourmet Feb 28, 2011 07:52 PM

                                                                                        can't go the Masters route *because* i can't choose just one...or even 2 or 3 :)

                                                                                      2. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                                                                        mattstolz Mar 1, 2011 02:51 AM

                                                                                        oh thats a easy choice for me. Bayless for sure!

                                                                                        oh... and susar could make a appetizer or something.

                                                                                        1. re: mattstolz
                                                                                          Bunson Mar 1, 2011 01:35 PM

                                                                                          I'd go with Besh among the Masters. I think he should have won The Next Iron Chef over Symon based on food alone, but Symon's personality is PERFECT for iron Chef.

                                                                                        2. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                                                                          iL Divo Nov 7, 2012 06:43 PM

                                                                                          agree, it'd be a hard choice.

                                                                                  2. goodhealthgourmet Feb 28, 2011 03:13 PM

                                                                                    i'm torn between the Volt brothers!

                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                                                                      mattstolz Feb 28, 2011 04:06 PM

                                                                                      if the volt brothers had a love child and...

                                                                                      oh wait uhm....

                                                                                      1. re: mattstolz
                                                                                        goodhealthgourmet Feb 28, 2011 06:34 PM

                                                                                        {shudder} that's just SO wrong.

                                                                                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                                                                          huiray Nov 20, 2012 05:45 AM

                                                                                          Why? :-)
                                                                                          It's theoretically possible but folks don't have the practical ability to make it happen yet with humans - but in the future... ;-) It's been sort-of done in mice...

                                                                                        2. re: mattstolz
                                                                                          Phaedrus Nov 20, 2012 04:26 AM

                                                                                          Sick. Funny, but sick all the same.

                                                                                      2. b
                                                                                        Bunson Feb 28, 2011 02:54 PM

                                                                                        Bryan Voltaggio - he didn't win but I thought of all the chefs who have been on Top Chef, he had the most consistently imaginative and refined food all season long.

                                                                                        1. r
                                                                                          runwestierun Feb 28, 2011 02:54 PM

                                                                                          If Kevin and Carla had a love child, but then they were tragically killed, and then the love child had to be raised by his uncle, Richard Blais, THAT'S who I'd want to cook my meal!

                                                                                          5 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: runwestierun
                                                                                            karenfinan Feb 28, 2011 05:40 PM

                                                                                            love that!!!!

                                                                                            1. re: runwestierun
                                                                                              bimmertimmer Feb 28, 2011 05:42 PM


                                                                                              1. re: runwestierun
                                                                                                Shrinkrap Feb 28, 2011 06:57 PM

                                                                                                That's a TERRIBLE story!

                                                                                                1. re: Shrinkrap
                                                                                                  jiminy Mar 1, 2011 03:38 PM

                                                                                                  that's awsome, but Kevin Gillespie would have to be my pick..........But then there those Voltaggio brothers......and Blais....man why are you making me pick

                                                                                                  1. re: jiminy
                                                                                                    Owtahear Nov 9, 2012 06:58 AM

                                                                                                    Those would be my choices also. Anyone one of the 4 and I would be happy.

                                                                                              2. mattstolz Feb 28, 2011 02:50 PM


                                                                                                Show Hidden Posts