2011 top chef tour – red bank, nj

Last Thursday, the 2011 Top Chef tour came to Red Bank, NJ’s Marine Park featuring Chef Jen Carroll of 10 Arts by Eric Ripert and Chef Kevin Sbraga, winner of Top Chef Season 7. The event featured activitites such as Buitoni pasta sampling, Castello cheese sampling, an interactive smell/aroma test, and a meet and greet with both chefs.

jen’s brined chicken breast

The main draw of course was the quickfire competitions. There were four total and I was lucky enough to be able to judge the first two. The main ingredient for the quickfire challenges was chicken, voted by Red Bank locals on the Top Chef tour Facebook page. The chefs could use any part of the chicken they wanted and were allowed to bring one secret ingredient. Kevin decided to go through the competitions without a secret ingredient while Jen brought a homemade vinegar. Jen made a brined chicken breast while Kevin made a curried chicken thigh. Both chefs made delicious dishes and it was tough to choose a winner. Guests were also able to try both dishes thanks to students from French Culinary working in the back!

kevin’s curried chicken thigh

The set up of the competition was pretty awesome. Two cooking stations were placed on a platform in the center, with the judges’ table in the middle and rows of seats placed on both sides of the platform. Joining me at the judges table for the first quickfire competition was Chef Ariane Duarte, the “cougar in the kitchen” from Top Chef Season 5 and the chef/owner of CulinAriane in Montclair, NJ. For the second quickfire, Chef Nicholas Harary of Restaurant Nicholas in Red Bank, NJ, joined me at the judges’ table. The first quickfire went to Kevin and the second went to Jen.

introducing the cougar in the kitchen

Huge thanks to Fred Haug of BravoTV and Amy Cao of Foodspotting for the awesome opportunity to judge the first two competitions!

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10 arts – 10 arts cheeseburger

I rarely have the luxury of eating at 10 Arts due to lack of extra cash in my wallet. I also rarely have the opportunity to have lunch in Center City. Last week, however, I made it out to try the 10 Arts Cheeseburger.

The 10 Arts Cheeseburger is made up of Pineland Farms ground sirloin. It’s served on a brioche bun with cheddar, pickles, lettuce, tomato, red onion, ketchup, and mustard. The burger was ordered medium rare and fries were chosen as the accompaniment over a salad.

This burger had more of a traditional flavor profile. Of course a brioche bun doesn’t fit into traditional but it tasted great. It stood tall and was very neatly assembled considering the 50/50 ratio of toppings to burger. The bun held it’s own and no ingredient fell onto the plate except for some ketchup and mustard drippings. I’m a fan. The fries were also delicious. They had a tasty seasoning and were cooked perfectly.

I almost left without dessert, but that would have been a no-no. Since I couldn’t really decide on something, I had Pastry Chef Monica Glass choose for me. She brought out her Vanilla Cheesecake Tart. The tart was topped with honeycomb ice cream, pistachio powder, caramelized pistachios, pomegranate verbena gelee, lemon verbena, frozen pomegranate seeds, and bee pollen. Despite the food coma I was already in, getting dessert was a great decision. That tart was damn good!

I want to come back to try Chef Jen Carroll’s five course tasting as well as the Five-Bite Lunch. I need to have those pretzels!

10 Arts Bistro & Lounge by Eric Ripert
The Ritz-Carlton
10 Avenue of the Arts
Philadelphia, PA 19102

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2011 top chef tour

Image from Bravo

The fourth annual Top Chef tour started last month. This tour stops at several cities and features rotating cheftestants from previous seasons. Each stop will have two chefs compete in three Quickfire style competitions. Foodspotting has also teamed up with Bravo this year. For each city on the tour, there is a respective guide. Be sure to follow and spot some food to earn the Top Chef Tour badge!

I tried to make it last year to the Philly stop but just couldn’t free my schedule. This year, I’m lucky to be one of the judges for the Red Bank, NJ stop on the tour! The Red Bank event will be held this upcoming Thursday, the 26th at the Marine Park and will feature Chef Kevin Sbraga, NJ native and Top Chef Season 7 winner, and Chef Jen Carroll, Top Chef Season 6 cheftestant and Chef de Cuisine of 10 Arts in Philadelphia. Tickets are completely free but are first come, first serve on the day of and limited release for pre-registration online. If you’re looking to score some pre-registration tickets, keep checking the site during the days leading up to the event. The times for the competitions on Thursday are 10.30 am, 12.00 pm, and 1.30 pm.

Hope to see you there!

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10 arts – top chef all-stars premiere party

Last night I went to 10 Arts for the Top Chef All-Stars Premiere Party with my friend Jen of Married to a Meat-Eater. Chef Jen Carroll had a pretty awesome run in the sixth season, Top Chef: Las Vegas, and is competing again in All-Stars. To celebrate, 10 Arts played episodes of Top Chef: Las Vegas until the premiere of All-Stars (Season 8 ) at 10 pm. In addition to the viewing, Chef Jen offered a special five course tasting menu featuring some of the dishes she made in season 6.

first course

clam ceviche – tomato, jalapeno, cilantro, mint, basil – made during a quickfire challenge
second course

blue bay mussels – steamed mussels, pea tendrils, potato lemongrass emulsion – also made during a quickfire challenge
third course

halibut – poached halibut, braised endive, black peppercorn lobster-bourbon sauce – made during an elimination challenge based on personal vices

fourth course

snake river kobe skirt steak – grilled kobe beef, salad of fennel, asian pear and orange, tomato-cardamom broth – made during an elimination challenge with chef kevin gillespie
pasta dish jen ordered – don’t remember the name but it was ridiculously good
fifth course

s’mores – soft chocolate, pomegranate, toasted marshmallow, graham ice cream – childhood favorite dessert of chef jen
spice cake – ice cream, persimmons
petits fours
We were lucky enough to get invited by Chef Jen to take a look at the kitchen. It was very, very cool to be able to take a peek.

Drinkwise, I started off the night with a Ri-Pear cocktail (Anjou pears, Grey Goose La Poire, white cranberry juice) and eventually had two Chef Takes Manhattan’s, 10 Arts’s special of the night.

Chef Eric Ripert originally intended on attending but unfortunately had to cancel last minute. Also, I ran into Chef Kevin Sbraga, winner of this last season’s Top Chef: D.C. (Season 7).

I’ve only been here one other time for restaurant week and I didn’t feel that I got quite the experience. Tonight was absolutely terrific. I will surely be back, hopefully soon to try Pastry Chef Monica Glass’s Sucre dessert bar or the Five Bite Lunch.

Huge thanks to Chef Jen Carroll, Chef Monica Glass (thanks for the extra desserts!), our excellent waiter Keeton, and rest of the 10 Arts staff. The dinner was fantastic and definitely an experience to remember.

10 Arts Bistro & Lounge by Eric Ripert
The Ritz-Carlton
10 Avenue of the Arts
Philadelphia, PA 19102

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