F&W Free Preview All You Coastal Living Cooking Light Food and Wine tab Health myRecipes Southern Living Sunset
My F&W
quick save (...)
Aspen

Top Chef Finale, Aspen Style

default-image

  

Hung Huynh and Gail Simmons


Top Chef Hung Huynh and F&W's Gail Simmons

Our F&W Classic in Aspen doesn't get going in earnest until tomorrow, but last night a healthy percentage of early arrivals gathered at the subterranean bar Belly Up to watch the Top Chef Finale like the food tv groupies we are. The party was sponsored by, fittingly enough, the Rums of Puerto Rico. As I sipped on a refreshing Bacardi Superior with lavender syrup and tonic, I tried to look graceful while scrounging for a seat. The place was packed like it was the Super Bowl, folks crammed into tables and along the bars to watch the show on the big screen, everyone from our own Dana Cowin and Ray Isle to chefs like Michel Nischan  and Andrew Shotts (the 2 both said they'd watch a lot more of the show if they weren't so busy cooking, and were glad to have a chance to watch the finale uninterrupted).

Top Chef judges Tom Colicchio and Padma Lakshmi hadn't yet landed, but the fantastic Gail Simmons led the crowd in an informal poll: Stephanie won the warmest applause, Lisa many boos. Once the show started, it was tricky to hear over the chatter (Frank Bruni's take-down of Ago was the topic of the night). I snuck down to the speakers to hear what Richard Blais was teaching Eric Ripert over that steaming pot of liquid nitrogen, when I ran into last season's winner, Hung Huynh. During the commercial break before the judges' table he told me a little about the new restaurant he has planned, and his pick for the winner.

"I'm pulling for Richard," he said, "but it's not looking good. He's made that dessert [scalloped bananas] three times, I have no idea why. Stephanie cooks from the soul, she's solid." (Great praise from the contestant criticized for being too technical -and soulless - last year). "If she wins it will be ok."

Hyunh's still cooking at Solo, a high-end kosher place in midtown, but he's got his eye on a 60-seater in Murray Hill, and hopes this fall to open a seafood place there. "Mediterranean-Asian," he said. "My style."

Finally the judges began their deliberations and the room quieted down, only to erupt in happy shouts when Padma pronounced Stephanie top chef. When the camera caught Blais choking up, he got his own warm round of applause. But then the room broke up as guests headed out to the first of the weekend's many afterparties - or for a few of us, bed, for our last long night of sleep till Monday.

You Might Also Like powered by sheknows
advertisement
The Dish
Receive delicious recipes and smart wine advice 4x per week in this e-newsletter.
The Wine List Weekly pairing plus best bottles to buy.
F&W Daily One sensational dish served fresh every day.
American Express Publishing ("AEP") may use your email address to send you account updates and offers that may interest you. To learn more about the ways we may use your email address and about your privacy choices, read the AEP Privacy Statement.
How we use your email address
advertisement
Congratulations to Nicholas Elmi, winner of Top Chef: New Orleans, the 11th season of Bravo's Emmy-Award winning, hit reality series.

Run with chefs and wine experts in the Celebrity Chef 5K and dance all night at Gail Simmons’ Last Bite Dessert Party during the FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen, June 20-22.