Top toques from across Colorado audition for Top Chef

Lori Midson
Clint Wangsnes (Zengo); Hunter Pritchett (Luca d'Italia); Stephen McCary (Mizuna); Marty Steinke (Linger) and Theo Adley (The Pinyon) showed up at Linger today to audition for Top Chef.
Some were still scribbling answers to the questions on the 25-page application, which asked, among other things, to interpret a dish based on the line "eight maids a-milking" from the Twelve Days of Christmas carol; others stored energy by helping themselves to the dried fruit and cheese spread on the bar; one was a nervous wreck. All were there to audition for Top Chef season ten, hoping to become the next Hosea Rosenberg, the Boulder-based chef who won season five.

Linger was the site of today's Top Chef open casting call, which brought out 35 chefs, most from Colorado, to audition for the Emmy-winning Bravo television show, season ten of which will likely air in the fall, allegedly in Seattle.

"We've had auditions before in Denver, but never a proper casting call, and it was time to see what the city's chefs really had to offer," said Hunter Braun, Top Chef's senior casting producer. "There are a few people who auditioned that I'm really excited about, and while there's no quota, I'd really like to make this trip worthwhile and see a couple of chefs from Colorado on the show."

Chefs, perhaps, like Hunter Pritchett, the exec chef of Luca d'Italia, whose application materials, some containing hand-written diagrams, were neatly -- very neatly -- organized on the bar. "I haven't written this much since my chef and tell interview with Westword," quipped Pritchett, who insisted (as did they all) that he has what it takes to win: "I think I can kill it with it my strapping good looks, stellar personality and god-given talent," he joked, adding that, on a more serious note, "I'm honestly a really good, well-rounded chef who makes really great food, and I love the challenge of being put on the spot and cooking my way out of a challenge," which he'll need to do -- a lot -- if he nabs a golden ticket.

Pritchett's colleague and fellow Mizuna chef, Steven McCary, was there, too. "I told my little sister I'd try out -- she's been asking me to audition for years," he said, right before his name was called and he trotted off to meet face-to-face with Braun. McCary's strategy for victory? "My charming southern charm."

Theo Adley, the executive chef of the Pinyon, in Boulder -- and a chef I strongly encouraged to audition -- revealed his reasons for taking the morning off to have his mind probed. "I'd love to cook in such an immediate, fast, high-pressure, brutal environment -- that's a strength of mine -- and I have a thing for being super-terrified and totally exposed to public scrutiny." But can he win? "Shit, yeah, I can win," he insisted.

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As evidenced from this season, creativity is not a requirement.  Two of the three finalists (not Paul), didn't exhibit ANY creativity throughout the season, and both failed miserably when it came to team challenges, either failing and blaming others or quitting (restaurant wars and barbeque).

When creativity isn't a factor, giving a line cook at Chilis just as good a chance of winning as a Beard finalist, why would a great chef risk an established reputation?


I dunno... $125,000 and incredible national exposure?

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