So I used to have an internship with a food blog here in New Orleans. Unfortunately it didn't work out and I was left with one piece that never made it onto the blog. I didn't want my work to go to waste so I am posting it here, even though it's a bit late. Enjoy!
If you haven’t been watching this Season of Top Chef, don’t worry. I've been keeping track of all the Quick Fires and Elimination Challenges every week! This is the 11th time around for the Bravo TV show, and they chose New Orleans as the host city for the new cheftestants. I couldn't be MORE excited! Top Chef has stayed true to the essence of New Orleans, and the city’s most beloved chefs and greatest spots have been showcased. All of the episodes, except for the finale, were filmed here. Below is a list of most of the chefs and restaurants that were featured. If you’re looking for the total fan experience, or just some delicious eats, then look no further.
Leah Chase is the Queen of Creole cuisine, so it’s no surprise that she shows up not once, but twice in this season of Top Chef. At her restaurant, Dooky Chase she serves up New Orleans comfort food done right, and she’s been doing it for over 60 years now. Ray Charles sang about her, and locals alike still sing her praises. Come for the fried chicken and Mrs. Chase will make sure you leave feeling like family.
Chef Susan Spicer makes an appearance as a guest judge when the chefs must cook for volunteers that are helping to rebuild the city. Who better to represent giving back in New Orleans than Chef Spicer? She is known for her humanitarian work and for producing amazing dishes from the bayou and beyond. Menus change weekly at Bayona located in a French Quarter cottage on Dauphine. Chef Spicer also opened Mondo in Lakeside that has a wood fire oven and serves more casual fare for lunch, dinner, and brunch.
One challenge required the chefs to take turns recreating popular menu items for Chef Tory McPhail at Commander’s Palace. Thankfully the rest of us don’t have to complete a challenge to sample signature dishes such as Shrimp and Tasso and Strawberry Shortcake. Just make reservations and enjoy the southern hospitality at this Garden District institution, where chefs Emeril Lagasse and Paul Prudhomme got their start.
Chef Paul Prudhomme was a guest judge and worked first at Commander’s palace before leaving to open his own restaurant. He is said to have created the famous “blackening” technique that is now wildly popular in this region. K-Paul’s Louisiana kitchen is located in the Quarter and serves up spicy blackened Drum and other indulgent Cajun classics.
Kim Anh’s Noodle House
Emeril took the chefs to Kim Anh’s Noodle House to give them a taste of Vietnamese cuisine in New Orleans. It’s no secret there is a large Vietnamese presence in the area, but this hidden gem is located off Jefferson Highway in Harahan. It’s a bit of a drive, but fans say it’s worth the trip for the Pho and bun dishes.
Chef Emeril mentions this well-known West Bank restaurant as being another one of his favorite Vietnamese spots. He eats here several times a week and his go-to dishes include grilled pork spring rolls, pho ga soup with chicken and rice noodles. They also serve delicious Pho and Banh Mi.
Chef John Besh was a regular on the show and it was clear to see his passion for New Orleans and using local ingredients. He is a true Top Chef with successful restaurants such as Domenica , Borgne, Luke, and Restaurant August, just to name a few.
Kermit Ruffins invites the chefs into his Treme Speak Easy and asks them to cook potluck style. Kermit is no stranger to good food. This namesake spot located on Basin Street, not only offers patrons Jazz music and culture, but also home cooking. Menu items and specials include fried catfish, beans and rice, stewed rabbit, and tamales. Locals come to see Kermit perform every Thursday night along with many other New Orleans musicians.
Chef Donald Link judged an episode on the show and gave cheftestants the challenge of breaking down a pig and using the whole animal in different dishes. He is certainly well known for cooking with pork in Louisiana. However it’s his new venture Peche, that is bringing in rave reviews, showing that he can represent seafood as well.
Chefs John Folse and Rick Tramonto opened Restaurant R’evolution in the Royal Sonesta Hotel, where they hosted an episode of Top chef. Folse and Tramonto put their spin on New Orleans classics, and do their best to integrate local New Orleans ingredients into their fine dining menus.
Located in Central City, this non-profit restaurant is designed to give at-risk individuals a place to acquire job training and life skills. The employees got the opportunity to work with the remaining chefs and serve their food to the judges. Café Reconcile serves po-boys, gumbo, and other Cajun favorites for lunch and also provide catering.
Lagasse has been a long-time ambassador for this city and it’s cuisine and is no stranger to television, so it’s fitting that he is serving as a Judge on this season of Top Chef. Emeril makes the chefs feel welcome by cooking for them at his flagship location on Tchopitoulas. Emeril’s continues to deliver with traditional fare that’s kicked up a notch, and the best banana cream pie in the city.
Chef Justin Devillier may not have made it all the way to the top, but he certainly proved he earned his spot on the show. This local chef started working at La Petite Grocery in 2004 and has been winning over patrons in New Orleans ever since. Justin is now Executive Chef and Owner and has been nominated twice for a James Beard award. Pastry Chef Bronwen Wyatt was nominated for Best New Pastry Chef by Food and Wine magazine.
Executive Chef Michael Sichel was chosen to represent his city this season on Top Chef. He wasn’t able to outlast his competitors, but you can find him running the show at this old school New Orleans eatery and Galatoire’s 33 Bar & Steak on Bourbon street. If you’re looking for great ambiance and a taste of history, Galatoire’s shouldn’t be missed.