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Top Chef Washington D.C. Details: Eric Ripert on as Judge + Contestants Revealed

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Photo: Bravo

Bravo announced the details of Top Chef Washington DC, and hooray: Joining Padma Lakshmi, Tom Colicchio, and Gail Simmons as a regular guest judge is chef Eric Ripert. Is the much-maligned Toby Young out as judge??? His name appears nowhere in the press release or on the recently-updated Top Chef bios page.

Season seven will also include appearances by Apollo Astronaut Buzz Aldrin, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, White House chef Sam Kass, MSNBC host Joe Scarborough, and CIA Director Leon Panetta. Top Chef Washington D.C. premieres Wednesday, June 16th.



Top Chef Washington DC Contestants


Alex Reznik
AGE: 33
HOMETOWN: Brooklyn, NY – currently resides in Hollywood, CA
PROFESSION: Executive Chef, Ivan Kane’s Café Was
CULINARY EDUCATION: AOS, Le Cordon Bleu in Las Vegas, NV
FAVORITE RECIPE: Avocado panna cotta with pickled ramps and tomato
Growing up in Brooklyn, the son of a first-generation European family, food was an integral part of Alex's early life. Watching his Russian mother and grandmother cooking in preparation for the daily ritual of good food and conversation set Alex on a path towards creative cooking. After travelling extensively throughout Europe, Alex found himself working in Las Vegas at the legendary, five-star restaurant, Lutecé. During his tenure as chef at multiple Bally's/Paris resort restaurants, Alex met famed nightlife entrepreneur, Ivan Kane. The two discovered a shared philosophy for great food and impeccable service. Thus was born Hollywood's Cafe Was. Alex's philosophy is to marry local, seasonal ingredients with classic French techniques to create honest, Californian bistro cuisine. Today, in the kitchen or dining room, Alex's passion for his craft is lauded by loyal customers and critics alike.


Amanda Baumgarten
AGE: 27
HOMETOWN: Los Angeles, CA – currently resides in Los Angeles
PROFESSION: Sous Chef, Ford’s Filling Station
CULINARY EDUCATION: Le Cordon Bleu in London
FAVORITE RECIPE: Roasted baby lamb with pomme cocotte persillade
A Los Angeles native, Amanda attended Le Cordon Bleu in London and went on to work at four different Michelin-starred restaurants including La Tante Claire and Le Gavroche in London and Melisse and Patina in LA. From there, she went onto become Executive Sous Chef of Paperfish before joining Ford’s Filling Station as Executive Chef. A gifted butcher with a distinct sense of flavor and style, Amanda loves to make any meat on the bone, but her favorite dish to prepare is Foie Gras Torohon.


Andrea Curto-Randazzo
AGE: 39
HOMETOWN: Vero Beach, FL – currently resides in Miami, FL
PROFESSION: Chef/Owner, Talula Restaurant and Creative Tastes Catering
CULINARY EDUCATION: AOS, Culinary Institute of America
FAVORITE RECIPE: Fresh berries with zabaglione
Andrea has been a rising star in the culinary world ever since she graduated from the CIA with honors. After working in the kitchens at Tribeca Grill and Aja in NYC, she returned to Miami where she worked at The Heights and Wish. In 2000, during her tenure at Wish, she was named one of Food & Wine Magazine’s “Best New Chefs.” In 2003, she and her husband, Frank, opened their own restaurant, Talula, which was named “The Place To Be Now” by The New York Times. A mother of three, she counts chocolate pudding, ice cream and popcorn with Raisinettes as some of her favorite indulgences.


Angelo Sosa
AGE: 35
HOMETOWN: Durham, CT – currently resides in New York, NY
PROFESSION: Chef/Owner, Xie Xie
CULINARY EDUCATION: AOS, Culinary Institute of America
FAVORITE RECIPE: Steamed madai snapper with lily bulbs
Angelo, who opened his Asian-influenced sandwich restaurant Xie Xie (“thank you” in Mandarin) in July 2009, has worked with some of the best chefs and restaurateurs in the world. Early in his career, he met Jean-Georges Vongerichten who became his mentor, and went on to work for him at Jean Georges, Dune and Spice Market, where he served as Executive Sous Chef. Shortly thereafter, he was invited by Alain Ducasse to create a special seasonal menu at his Paris restaurant
Spoon Food & Wine, the first American to receive such an honor. Angelo, who also created the menu for Buddakan, the Stephen Starr hotspot restaurant in NYC, always has salt, Japanese fish sauce, cinnamon, green cardamom and lily bulbs handy in the kitchen.


Arnold Myint
AGE: 32
HOMETOWN: Nashville, TN
PROFESSION: Chef/Owner, Cha Chah
CULINARY EDUCATION: Culinary Arts Diploma, Institute of Culinary Education
FAVORITE RECIPE: Anything with peas
Inspired by his mother who has run a successful restaurant for over 30 years, Arnold is the Executive Chef
and owner of three popular restaurants in Nashville: Cha Chah, which was voted Best New Restaurant by Nashville Scene (2009), Suzy Wong's House of Yum and PM. Once a competitive professional figure skater, Arnold is also an expert mixologist, savvy event planner and has been known to appear as Suzy Wong herself to promote his latest concept. Arnold's culinary approach is mirrored by his colorful life.


Ed Cotton
AGE: 32
HOMETOWN: Boston, MA – currently resides in New York City
PROFESSION: Executive Chef, Plein Sud at the Smyth Hotel
CULINARY EDUCATION: AOS, Culinary Institute of America
FAVORITE RECIPE: Fresh Farm Egg Ravioli with a silky English pea puree, spring onion fondue and crispy pancetta
In high school, Ed got an early start on his culinary career working for acclaimed chef Todd English at Olives where he began to hone his knife and pastry skills before helping open Figs in Wellesley, MA. After culinary school, he rejoined English working at Olives in Boston and Las Vegas. After spending a year out west, he returned to Boston to become the Executive Sous Chef at the award-winning No.9 Park in Beacon Hill where he worked alongside Barbara Lynch. From there, he set his sights on the Big Apple where he landed a job working with Daniel Boulud at db Bistro Moderne and Daniel. For more than five years, he worked with Boulud, helping him open eateries across the country. Before joining Plein Sud earlier this year where he has been cooking up a storm, Ed was the Chef de Cuisine at BLT Market and loves to make any dish with rabbit.


Jacqueline Lombard
AGE: 33
HOMETOWN: Grew up in Boston, MA – currently resides in Brooklyn, NY
PROFESSION: Chef/Owner, Jacqueline Lombard Events
CULINARY EDUCATION: French Culinary Institute, WSET, The Sommelier Society of America
FAVORITE RECIPE: Summer Corn Risotto with Butter-Poached Lobster, Black Truffles and Green Onions
Jacqueline is a private chef, sommelier and event producer whose company, Jacqueline Lombard Events, caters to both private and corporate clients nationwide, including Balenciaga, Glamour, Jil Sander, Miele USA, Osklen, Bergdorf Goodman, Barterhouse Imports, Stella McCartney, Wines of Argentina, ViniPortugal, and Wine Enthusiast Magazine, among many others. Her chic, seasonal and sustainable approach to her work has garnered her praise for both the quality of her food, wine education and business practices. Recently Jacqueline revived the venerable Florent restaurant as Executive Chef of Gansevoort 69. Currently she is working on an exciting new concept, serving as Executive Chef of Leña in New York City. Jacqueline is also the Dining & Wine Editor of the NYHerald.com.


John Somerville
AGE: 42
HOMETOWN: Ohio -- Currently resides in West Bloomfield, MI
PROFESSION: Chef de Cuisine, The Lark
CULINARY EDUCATION: BS In Engineering, University of Michigan
FAVORITE RECIPE: Spiced Spring cucumbers with dill
Growing up in rural Ohio, John developed an appreciation for farm fresh ingredients at a young age. He attended the University of Michigan and earned a degree in Engineering before deciding to pursue his culinary dream. In 1994, he joined The Lark as a Garde Manger, working his way up the ladder to his current position as Chef de Cuisine. He has received two James Beard Nominations for Best Chef: Great Lakes (2008 and 2009) and is recognized as one of the best chefs in the greater Detroit area. His philosophy is “spreading the infectious spirit of cooking!”


Kelly Liken
AGE: 33
HOMETOWN: Pittsburgh, PA – currently resides in Vail, CO
PROFESSION: Chef/Owner, Kelly Liken in Vail and Rick & Kelly’s American Bistro in Edwards, CO
CULINARY EDUCATION: AOS, Culinary Institute of America
FAVORITE RECIPE: Parmesan-mascarpone tortellini with spring vegetables and crispy artichokes
Graduating first in her class at the Culinary Institute of America, Kelly is one of the country’s most promising female chefs. In 2008, she was featured in Bon Appetit’s “Women Chefs: The Next Generation” and was a 2009 and 2010 James Beard Semi-Finalist for Best Chef Southwest. A small town girl at heart, she has passed up on offers from heavyweight chefs including Charlie Trotter and Daniel Boulud to stay in Colorado where she feels grounded. Kelly cooks seasonal American cuisine with a strong commitment to locally sourced organic ingredients. She loves to make soup, lamb and anything grilled.


Kenny Gilbert
AGE: 36
HOMETOWN: Euclid, OH – currently resides in Telluride, CO
PROFESSION: President/Owner, Passionate Culinary Enterprises LLC; Chef/Partner, G’s Restaurant Group
CULINARY EDUCATION: Pennsylvania Institute of Culinary Arts
FAVORITE RECIPE: A tomato and mozzarella salad with an onion marmalade
Kenny is the President/Owner of Passionate Culinary Enterprises and Chef/Partner for G's Restaurant Group. His cuisine ranges from American Regional, Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese, Italian, Middle Eastern, Indian, Native American, Moroccan and African. After graduating from the Pennsylvania Culinary Institute, Kenny went on to become a Chef de Cuisine at the young age of 23 at The Grill at The Ritz-Carlton in Amelia Island, FL, a AAA Five Diamond Restaurant, and the youngest African-American chef ever to run a Ritz-Carlton Hotel restaurant. An intense and no-nonsense chef, Kenny once split his pants open while cooking a 10-course meal and didn’t even blink an eye. If he could have his last meal with anyone, it would be President Obama, and he would prepare a modern American Southern meal.


Kevin Sbraga
AGE: 31
HOMETOWN: Willingboro, NJ – currently resides in Willingboro, NJ
PROFESSION: Executive Chef, Rat’s Restaurant at the Grounds for Sculpture
CULINARY EDUCATION: BS, Culinary Arts from Johnson and Wales in Miami, FL
FAVORITE SIMPLE SPRING RECIPE: Asparagus and morels
A self-proclaimed “beast in the kitchen” with unrivaled knife skills, Kevin is currently the Executive Chef at Rat’s at the Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton, NJ, which is managed by Stephen Starr. After earning his BS of Culinary Arts from Johnson and Wales in Miami, Kevin went on to become the Chef de Cuisine at The Grill at Philadelphia’s Ritz-Carlton Hotel and was included in the 2007 list of “Top 10 Chefs” by Philadelphia Style magazine. In 2008, Kevin served as the Culinary Director of Garces Restaurant Group and was named winner of Best Meat Presentation at Bocuse d’Or USA. This African American, Italian chef declares he’s the “Barack Obama of the cooking game” and wants to prove that “he can.”


Lynne Gigliotti
AGE: 51
HOMETOWN: Philadelphia, PA– currently resides in Hyde Park, NY
PROFESSION: Assistant Professor, Culinary Institute of America
CULINARY EDUCATION: AOS, Culinary Institute of America
FAVORITE RECIPE: Anything with peas and asparagus
A Chef for over 30 years, Lynne is looking to break the glass ceiling for female chefs by becoming only the second woman to become a Certified Master Chef. Currently an Assistant Professor at the CIA, where she said she would never step foot after graduation, Lynne previously was the Chef/Owner of Grappa, which was featured in Atlanta Magazine’s “Best of 1999” and named an Outstanding Restaurant in the 2001 Zagat Guide Atlanta. Ice cream is her favorite dish to make and also her favorite junk food.


Stephen Hopcraft
AGE: 40
HOMETOWN: Cleveland, OH – currently resides in Las Vegas, NV
PROFESSION: Executive Chef, Seablue at the MGM Grand
CULINARY EDUCATION: AOS, California Culinary Academy in San Francisco
FAVORITE RECIPE: Agholitti, a small pasta filled with goat cheese tossed in olive oil and tomato water.
Over-the-top and without a filter, Stephen has spent more than 12 years establishing new restaurants nationwide for award-winning chef and restaurateur Michael Mina. Currently the Executive Chef at Mina’s Seablue, the AAA Four Diamond restaurant at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas, he has also worked alongside other high-profile chefs including Thomas Keller and Charlie Trotter. A proud father of 14-month-old twins, Stephen’s style is all about putting a playful twist on classic dishes to create cutting-edge food.


Tamesha Warren
AGE: 24
HOMETOWN: Christ Church, Barbados – currently resides in Washington, DC
PROFESSION: Sous Chef, The Oval Room
CULINARY EDUCATION: AOS, The Art Institute of New York City
FAVORITE RECIPE: White asparagus soup
Born and raised in Barbados, Tamesha graduated from The Art Institute of New York City where she was on the President’s List. She went on to work at the world famous Jean Georges restaurant in NYC and was honored with gold and silver medals from the American Culinary Federation. Tamesha is currently the Sous Chef at The Oval Room, one of “Washington’s Power Restaurants,” located next to the White House and owned by Ashok Bajaj, one of the Capital’s biggest restaurateurs. Interested in playing with molecular elements, Tamesha cooks modern American food with French and Asian influences and is sure to bring a youthful, modern edge to the competition.


Tiffany Derry
AGE: 26
HOMETOWN: Beaumont, TX – currently resides in Dallas
PROFESSION: Executive Chef, Go Fish Ocean Club
CULINARY EDUCATION: AOS, The Art Institute of Houston
FAVORITE RECIPE: Spring risotto
Tiffany, a native Texan, definitely flaunts the “Don’t Mess with Texas” attitude. She began working in the kitchen when she was 15 at IHOP where she learned speed, and by 17, her leadership skills in the business were evident as she became the youngest person to ever be in management there. She competed in ACF competitions to help pay for culinary school where she finished in the top of her class. In addition, she received her seafood
training from Houston’s Pesce Restaurant while still in school. Shortly after graduation, she went on to become the Executive Sous Chef of Grotto Cucina. Next, she returned to the Art Institute of Houston to do her other passion, teach culinary. In 2008, she was named Executive Chef of the Dallas hotspot Go Fish Ocean Club, which has received many accolades. Dijon, Creole mustard, champagne vinegar, kosher salt and Creole seasoning are the five ingredients she always has on hand.


Timothy Dean
AGE: 39
HOMETOWN: Washington D.C. – currently resides in Baltimore, MD
PROFESSION: Chef/Owner, Prime Steak House
CULINARY EDUCATION: Howard University
FAVORITE RECIPE: Soft Shell Crab Tempura with Virginia Ramps, Morel Mushroom and Garlic Confit Emulsion
Timothy spent 12 years working on and off with the late, great chef, Jean-Louis Palladin, first at Jean-Louis in the famed Watergate Hotel, and later as Chef de Cuisine at Palladin in New York City. Currently the Chef and owner of Prime Steak House in Baltimore and Prime Steak House by Timothy Dean, which is slated to open this summer in Washington, DC, his first job in a kitchen was a dishwasher. He has worked alongside other notable chefs including Alain Ducasse, Roberto Donna, Guenter Seeger and Patrick Clark. A graduate of Howard University, he was named the university’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2000. His favorite dishes are Maine lobster with mac & cheese and shaved black truffles and pan seared Hudson Valley foie gras with rhubarb and 20-year-old Port wine sauce.


Tracey Bloom
AGE: 33
HOMETOWN: Shortsville, NY – currently resides in Atlanta, GA
PROFESSION: Executive Chef, Table 1280
CULINARY EDUCATION: AOS, Culinary Institute of America
FAVORITE RECIPE: English pea salad
Named one of 2008’s “Top 25 Chefs in Atlanta” by The Sunday Paper, Tracey is well known in the Atlanta culinary scene and is currently the Executive Chef at Table 1280, where she shows off her expertise in both the sweet and savory side of culinary arts. After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America, she decided to go down South to launch her culinary career as the opening Pastry Chef at the award winning Sia’s Restaurant in Duluth, GA. Tracey then joined the Buckhead Life Restaurant Group spending most of her time at 103 West under Chef Gary Donlick, before moving on to work as Sous Chef at Asher Restaurant in Roswell, GA, Oscar’s Restaurant in College Park, GA, and Luma in Winter Park, FL. She would have her last meal with Stevie Nicks and she would prepare Turkey salad sandwiches and homemade lemonade.



Press Release:

A TASTE OF CULINARY POWER ON BRAVO'S "TOP CHEF: WASHINGTON D.C." WED. JUNE 16 AT 9 PM ET/PT

17 New Chefs Stir The Pot Along With Host Padma Lakshmi, Judges Tom Collichio and Gail Simmons, and New Judge Eric Ripert

NEW YORK – May 13, 2010 – Taste the culinary power on the seventh season of the No. 1 food show on cable, Bravo's Emmy and James Beard Award-winning series "Top Chef: Washington D.C.," premiering Wednesday, June 16 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Bravo. The 17 new chef'testants come face to face in the nation's capitol for the ultimate power play that will determine just who has the chops to become Top Chef.

This season captures the varied tastes of Washington D.C. and features appearances by some of the town's top names including Apollo Astronaut Buzz Aldrin, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, White House chef Sam Kass, MSNBC host Joe Scarborough, Congressman Aaron Schock of Illinois, Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, CIA Director Leon Panetta and NBC White House Correspondent Savannah Guthrie. The challenges featured will be some of the most creative and inventive yet: the chefs take over the concession stands at the Nationals stadium, go inside the CIA's closely guarded headquarters and literally receive out of this world direction on one challenge from a NASA astronaut orbiting Earth .

Once again returning to the kitchen, cookbook author, actress and host Padma Lakshmi presides over the judge's table alongside head judge Tom Colicchio, recent James Beard Award-winner and chef/owner Craft Restaurants, and judge Gail Simmons of Food & Wine magazine. Joining the series as a regular guest judge is Eric Ripert, award-winning chef and owner of the acclaimed Le Bernardin restaurant in New York City, the 15th ranked best restaurant in the world.

The Emmy-nominated Magical Elves return to produce "Top Chef: Washington D.C." Dan Cutforth, Jane Lipsitz ("Top Chef Masters," "Dance Your Ass Off"), Liz Cook and Casey Kriley serve as executive producers. Chaz Gray serves as co-executive producer.

The 17 "Top Chef: Washington D.C." chef'testants will be whittled down week by week as they compete to outshine their competition. The winning chef will receive $125,000 furnished by Dial Nutriskin, a feature in Food & Wine magazine, a showcase at the Annual Food & Wine Classic in Aspen and will earn the title of "Top Chef." The Washington Hilton served as the production location for "Top Chef: Washington D.C."

To meet the cast of season seven, see photo galleries and video, visit http://www.bravotv.com/top-chef. Photography and bios are available at www.nbcumv.com. Following are the 17 new "Top Chef: Washington D.C." chef'testants:

- Alex Reznik, 33 – Hometown: Brooklyn, NY; Resides in Hollywood, CA

- Amanda Baumgarten, 27 – Hometown/Resides in: Los Angeles, CA

- Andrea Curto-Randazzo, 39 – Hometown: Vero Beach, FL/Resides in: Miami Beach, FL.

- Angelo Sosa, 34 – Hometown: Connecticut; Resides in New York, NY.

- Arnold Myint, 32 – Hometown/Resides in: Nashville, TN.

- Ed Cotton, 32 – Hometown: Boston, MA; Resides in New York, NY.

- Jacqueline Lombard, 33 – Hometown: Boston, MA/Resides in Brooklyn, NY.

- John Somerville, 42 – Hometown/Resides in: West Bloomfield, MI.

- Kelly Liken, 33 – Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA/Resides in: Vail, CO.

- Kenny Gilbert, 36 – Hometown: Cleveland, OH/Resides in: Telluride, CO

- Kevin Sbraga, 30 – Hometown/Resides in: Willingboro, NJ.

- Lynne Gigliotti, 51 – Hometown: Philadelphia, PA/Resides in Hyde Park, NY.

- Stephen Hopcraft, 40 – Hometown: Cleveland, OH.; Resides in Las Vegas, NV

- Tamesha Warren, 24 – Hometown: Barbados; Resides in Washington D.C.

- Tiffany Derry, 26 – Hometown: Beaumont, TX/Resides in: Dallas, TX

- Timothy Dean, 39 – Hometown: Washington D.C./Resides in Baltimore, MD

- Tracey Bloom, 33 – Hometown: Rochester, NY/Resides in Atlanta, GA

Bravo's "Top Chef" offers a fascinating window into the competitive, pressure-filled environment of world-class cookery and the restaurant business at the highest level. The series features seventeen aspiring chefs who compete for their shot at culinary stardom and the chance to earn the prestigious title of "Top Chef." Each episode holds two challenges for the chefs. The first is a quickfire test of their basic abilities and the second is a more involved elimination challenge designed to test the versatility and inventiveness of the chefs as they take on unique culinary trials such as working with unusual and exotic foods or catering for a range of demanding clients. The challenges not only test their skills in the kitchen, but also uncover if they have the customer service, management and teamwork abilities required of a Top Chef. The competing chefs live and breathe the high-pressure lifestyle that comes with being a master chef and each week someone is asked to "pack up their knives" and go home.

In conjunction with season seven, www.bravotv.com is launching a roster of culinary-themed games and the all-new Rate The Plate, which lets viewers assess dishes from the season. The site will also feature weekly, un-aired video footage from the Judges’ Table and weekly blogs posted by the judges and cheftestants. Fans can use the B-Hive Party Planner to invite friends to a private Top Chef viewing party at home, complete with invitations, game ideas, and menus supplied by Bravotv.com. Fans can also learn how to serve up each week's winning dish with the weekly Top Recipe video hosted by season six winner Michael Voltaggio. The site will also feature a Talk Bubble viewing party during the season seven finale, where fans can post their instant reactions to the episode on Facebook and Twitter.

Chef" fans can also visit m.bravotv.com from their web-enabled phone for on-the-go access to content including blogs, photo galleries, photo diaries and videos. Fans who text CHEF to 27286 can join the Top Chef mobile fan club and receive behind-the-scenes dish and exclusive interactive content from the chef'testants, hosts and judges. A new season of the mobile video series "Slice & Dice Showdown" has the chefs grouped into two teams as they compete in foodie challenges and earn points culminating in the ultimate dessert bake-off. On iTunes fans that purchase the Season Pass will get a series of exclusive videos that takes them through the making of Top Chef from how challenges are brainstormed, tested and executed to an exclusive tour of the Top Chef kitchen.

"Top Chef" has delivered strong audiences season-to-season, debuting in March 2006 to critical acclaim and ratings success, returning with season two in October 2006 which averaged over two million total viewers, then season three which premiered on June 2007 finished out the season averaging over 2.5 million viewers. Season four which premiered in March 2008, averaged over three million viewers and seasons five and six were the series' highest rated season ever, with season five averaging almost three million adults 18-49 and almost four million total viewers and season six continuing strong with 3.7 million total viewers and 2.6 million Adults 18-49. Top Chef is the #1 food show on cable among Adults 18-49.

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