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All We Can Eat
Posted at 09:30 AM ET, 02/08/2012

Chat Leftovers: The ‘Top Chef’ effect

To paraphrase a line from the movie “The Graduate,” I have one word for you: Cupcakes.

Okay, it was “plastics,” but you get the point. It’s cupcake day in Food, and if you haven’t seen our fabulous illustration involving 355 of them, what are you waiting for?

On the cover, writer Andrea Adleman tries to make sense of the continuing cupcake boom, which shows no sign of letting up. And Ellen McCarthy introduces us to Doron Petersan, the colorful owner of the Sticky Fingers vegan bakery, who twice won TV’s “Cupcake Wars” competition against non-vegan opponents.

Pie gets some love this week, too, in Maggie Fazeli Fard’s story about how a historic local pie company might be resurrected by a member of the family that founded it around the time of the Civil War.

Whether you want to talk cupcakes or change the subject, you should join us at 1 for today’s Free Range chat. Andrea Adelman will be there to talk about her story, and the usual suspects from Food will be there to talk about whatever you want. Don’t forget to send in your questions early; that way, they’ll be less likely to be left behind when the hour is over. Like this leftover questions from last week’s chat:

What kind of success have the “Top Chef” winners had? I live in the Chicago area, so I’ve been following Stephanie Izard’s post-win career and have been thrilled to see her do so well. I’ve even been to her restaurant, which was absolutely wonderful. I didn’t know if any of the winners have done as well or better. (Yes, I am biased and am convinced she has been the most successful, but please feel free to disabuse me of that!) Would you argue that there are any non-winners who have actually done the best out of everyone?

I’m biased, too, and I would contend that although she didn’t win the competition, our D.C. hometown girl Carla Hall (seasons 4 and 8) has had more success than any other competitor in any season of the Bravo TV show.
Of course, it depends on your definition of success. Carla hasn’t opened her own award-winning restaurant or written a cookbook, but she snagged an amazing gig, co-hosting ABC’s weekday talk show “The Chew” with the likes of Mario Batali, Michael Symon and other well-known personalities. Their guests are movie and TV celebs, pro athletes, musicians, other chefs — how sweet is that?

Other former contenders with Washington ties are doing very well. Spike Mendelsohn (Season 4) and Mike Isabella (seasons 6 and 8) both own restaurants in the District and generate lots of buzz here. And Voltaggio brothers Bryan and Michael (Season 6) — Bryan is in Frederick — are opening restaurants and have written a cookbook together.

Elsewhere, many of the season winners and near-winners have their own restaurants or head up kitchens. A few former contestants, including Jennifer Carroll (seasons 6 and 8), have gained visibility through TV commercials and product endorsements. Richard Blais (seasons 4 and 8) and Marcel Vignernon (seasons 2 and 8) got TV cooking shows.

Success can be a matter of interpretation, but it seems pretty clear that the “Top Chef” franchise has provided an invaluable leg up for many of its participants, regardless of how soon they had to pack their knives and go.

By Jane Touzalin  |  09:30 AM ET, 02/08/2012

Categories:  Chat Leftovers

 
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