Year's Best: Recipes from Top Chef Personalities
Indian-Spiced Short Ribs
For his eminently doable but still super-creative short ribs recipe, Top Chef season 6 winner Michael Voltaggio flavors the meat with the Indian spice rub garam masala, braising them in the oven for two hours until tender—no sous vide necessary. He pairs the ribs with gnocchi that he fries until crispy, a kind of haute Tater Tot.
Winter Squash Soup with Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Chef Susur Lee, star of Top Chef Masters, is renowned for his creative, complex, Asian-inflected dishes at his restaurants in Toronto, Manhattan and Singapore. But one of his favorite cold-weather comfort recipes is this remarkably simple squash soup, which he sweetens with a little honey and garnishes with roasted pumpkin seeds.
"How many lunchrooms have disgusting Taco Tuesdays?" asks Top Chef season 4 contestant Spike Mendelsohn. As an alternative, he stuffs burritos with scrambled eggs (lightened with egg whites), feta, turkey bacon and spinach.
Braised Pork Belly with Pickled Radishes
Richard Blais crashed in the final moments of Top Chef Season 4 when his pressure-cooked pork belly did not turn out to be as delicious, or nearly as tender, as he had hoped: He didn't leave the meat in long enough. Gail Simmons chooses to stick with a more classic cooking method, marinating the pork overnight and braising it in a savory soy-and-mirin broth.
Roasted Mascarpone-Filled Dates with Watercress and Brioche
At her eponymous restaurant in Vail, Colorado, chef Kelly Liken serves these stellar dates with watercress and a balsamic gastrique (sauce). The recipe here swaps out the gastrique for a basic vinaigrette.
Michelle's Turkey Burgers with Lemon Mayonnaise
Top Chef season 4 contestant Spike Mendelsohn first made turkey burgers for the Obamas at the 2009 Easter Egg Roll on the White House lawn. He then created a version for the First Lady; at Good Stuff Eatery, he serves it with Swiss cheese and calls it the Michelle Melt.
Gail Simmons was so disappointed during the Top Chef Season 5 finale when she learned that Carla Hall's soufflé never made it to the plate: It had curdled in the oven. To make sure her soufflés rise, Gail folds lots of fluffy whipped egg whites into a Roquefort- and-Parmigiano-Reggiano base.
Lemon-Curd Sandwich Cookies
Sablés (French butter cookies) were Top Chef season 7 winner Kevin Sbraga's favorites growing up. "I'd sneak them when I wasn't supposed to," he says. His wife, Jesmary, who teaches baking, had the idea to sandwich them with lemon curd.
Linzer Cookies with Spiced Jam
Top Chef season 7 winner Kevin Sbraga credits his father, Harvey Beachem, with creating these linzer-inspired cookies at Harvey's Bakery in Willingboro, New Jersey. He takes his father's recipe one step further, adding anise and coriander to the raspberry jam that he spreads between the hazelnut cookies (which are spiced with cinnamon and cloves).