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Dec 15, 2011 11:03 AM

Top Chef Texas: the Chicago Contingent

I'm a little surprised this hasn't shown up yet on the Chicago board with so many Home Boy Chicago chefs competing.

Are you watching? What do you think? Are you rooting for anyone? Anything surprise you?

Sara Gruenberg, Executive Chef Spiaggia and Cafe Spiaggia

Beverly Kim, Chef de Cuisine, aria in the Fairmont
Has rubbed some other participants the wrong way with what seems to be agressive behavior alternating with crying. She is a new and nursing mom.

Chuy Valencia, Chef/Partner Chilam Balam

Heather Terhune, Executive Chef, Sable in the Hotel Palomar.
She's raised a lot of eyebrows with her agressive dislike of Beverly Kim

Chris Jones, Chef de Cuisine, Moto Restaurant
Apparent bromance with Farinia (see below)

Richie Farinia, Sous Chef, Moto

A full discussion of the most recent episode is here:

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  1. I was sirry to see Chuy go - would have liked to see what else he would cook - IMO I think Sara is the ctrongest one left out of the group -

    1. Sara - I think will go far. The food she has put out have seemed pretty consistent and she seems to have a good focus.

      Beverly - rubs me the wrong way. I didn't like the way she did the mother sauce QF and seemed to ignore the instructions completely. However, the food that she makes is pretty well recieved by the judges

      Chuy - really, really, really wanted him to stay longer.

      Heather - oh man. I found myself yelling at the TV yesterday to just shut your mouth. I think she's a great chef and I've never heard of any bad scenes in the open kitchen of Sable so I think her personality is coming off wrong on the show. But she is not helping with being so snide.

      Chris Jones - may be relying to heavily on the Moto tricks. But I think he'll be in the running for a lot longer than people excepy.

      Richie - didn't register.

      I'm rooting for Heather despite her "bulliness" and Chris Jones the most.

      8 Replies
      1. re: lbs

        >>> Heather - oh man. I found myself yelling at the TV yesterday to just shut your mouth. I think she's a great chef and I've never heard of any bad scenes in the open kitchen of Sable so I think her personality is coming off wrong on the show. But she is not helping with being so snide. <<<

        You and me both!

        1. re: zin1953

          Yes, really makes me not want to eat at Sable again. In fact, I probably won't. She does not seem pleasant at all.
          The Moto guys came across as fancy tricks first and flavor second...I actually think there is a place for that up to a point, but it does not work on a show like that when you are under time pressure and against strong competition.

          1. re: Chihab

            Chef Terhune at Sable's open kitchen is one of the best run - and happiest - kitchens I've ever seen and I've always found her a very warm and lovely person. I don't know her personally or work for her, but I've eaten at Sable a lot and one reason has been the really great tone of how she runs her kitchen. (my daughter is a line cook out of state so I tend to watch how the line is treated rather carefully)

            I would love to see the unedited version ...

            I was sad to see Chef Farina go and hope Chef Jones gets a long stay ... I enjoy the spirit of Moto and the Motoboys

            Chuy and Beverly I find grating while I have no particular opinion of Sara.

            Moto Restaurant
            945 W Fulton, Chicago, IL 60607

            1. re: Siun

              I haven't watched the show, but I've read the summaries on the Tribune website. I know that reality shows are heavily edited to emphasize anything the producers think makes for exciting television.

              I also feel like the way the show is constructed, the winner does not necessarily correlate with the best food you'll find in their respective restaurants. In the real world, chefs have a chance to develop a recipe for their restaurants by repeating it over and over, varying one thing and another, until they've reached what they want to achieve.

              What I admire about Chef Terhune (in addition to the food she creates) is her presence in Sable's open kitchen. Whenever she's working, you can almost always see her working hard on the line alongside her staff. And if you want to chat with her or ask her anything, you can do so easily.

              1. re: nsxtasy

                I wonder if she's the type of person who needs to be in charge and can be quite pleasant in that role, but has difficulty sharing or being a co-equal member of a team.

                I realize these programs are heavily edited, but they are getting a lot of raw material on her from somewhere.

                1. re: rjka

                  She really is coming off very badly. I have done a lot of media training and one of the rules I give people - which applies to reality TV
                  "if you don't want it broadcast, don't say it / don't do it."

                  One of the big advantages of being on a show like this is to promote your restaurant. Unfortunately her behavior may be having the opposite effect. And while she certainly hadn't seen the editing before the show was aired, she doesn't seem to be aware of how she is coming off.

                  1. re: chicgail

                    Yes, I've read on some other forums people swearing they will never set foot in her restaurant after watching this show, just based on how (edited for TV) she treats other people.

                    1. re: rjka

                      I'm hard-pressed to think of how the editing could be to blame here. Unless chefs constantly throw each other under the bus, obsess over past services, and yell at each other on screen endlessly, then they singled her out for this common behavior... but I really doubt that.

      2. I just saw last night's episode and was delighted to see Sara Guenberg win the Elimination Challenge. Her work at Spiaggia is stellar and she was thrilled. Hooray for her.

        Heather Terhune, another Chicago chef (Sable), was asked to "pack her knives and go." I haven't seen Last Chance Kitchen yet so I don't know if she redeemed herself. There was a comment on the LCK promo that was broadcast where Padma referred to her as lean and mean. I went back to be sure I heard it correctly and then wasn't sure if it was a zinger or not.

        2 Replies
        1. re: chicgail

          Padma called her the "Queen of Mean".

          Sara's dish looked fantastic and she redeemed herself with the sausage. She is going to a be a quiet threat I think.

          Bev's dish looked great too. I was happy to see them both at the winner's table but I don't think Bev will go beyond the top 5 or 6 despite her sign.

          Chris J seemed to finally get that taste matters over gimmick. He only got nitpicked by Emeril on the use of A-1 sauce but everyone seemed to dig it.

          Ahh Heather..... I still want to eat at Sable and I don't think she is as big as a jerk as was made out to be. But it was kind of sweet justice that she left. I don't think she was fit for the show. Some people aren't nice game players.

          1. re: lbs

            Thanks. Apparently I heard it wrong. Or heard what I wanted to hear. Or am just getting old and hard-of-hearing.

            Good point about Chris. It looks like he's learning. Hope he stays on track.

        2. Folks may want to read this interview with Chef Terhune:

          I'm looking forward to dinner at Sable next week -always a great way to spend an evening.

          1 Reply