Five Denver/Boulder kitchen magicians who should audition for Top Chef Season 10
"Every season the bar gets higher, every season it means more to be the one on top -- do you have what it takes to be the next TOP CHEF?" So begins the wording on the Bravo website, taunting cookers from around the country to audition for the tenth season of Top Chef, which, if you believe the rumors, will take place in Seattle. But Denver is one of several major metropolitan cities that can get you there...if you show up to the casting call at Linger on Wednesday, February 22, between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. "Bravo was looking for a big, visually impressive space to hold casting calls, and obviously, Linger is perfect," says Aubrey Cornelius, who does PR for the restaurant.
Colorado has already produced one Top Chef victor: Former Jax-Boulder exec chef Hosea Rosenberg took the prize on season five. Kelly Liken, whose eponymous restaurant resides in Vail, nearly made it all the way on season seven, and Melissa Harrison, who was once a sous chef at Boulder's Centro Latin Kitchen and Refreshment Palace, also appeared on Season Five with Rosenberg.
Cornelius insists that Justin Cucci, the executive chef of Linger (and Root Down) isn't auditioning for a cheftestant spot, but it got us thinking about whose knives we'd most like to see fly in the face of Tom Colicchio. Herewith our top picks:
Rodriguez, a self-described "bitch" -- and a clear fan favorite, judging from the comments on her Chef and Tell interview -- grew up on a farm in Chihuahua, Mexico, so she knows what it's like to be surrounded by pigs (and there are plenty of the pretentious human sort on Top Chef). And she knows how to butcher them, too -- literally and figuratively. She's full of fire and has a personality that's larger than life; she can stand the heat; she's quick, precise and doesn't collapse under pressure; and, most important, this is a woman who can cook as well as anyone I've seen in this city. The girl just gets it -- and gets it right.
"He's confident, brilliantly innovative and, at 26, one of the city's youngest kitchen kingpins to pioneer a line that turns out what may very well be the most ambitiously crafted menu in Denver." That's what I wrote about Jorel Pierce, the fiercely talented chef at Euclid Hall, in early 2011, and aside from his age, nothing has changed. He's a reference bible of bottomless food knowledge; he's intensely focused and competitive; his dishes often go way, way beyond the realm of sensibility but knock your britches off in the end (who else does Thai-style pig ears?); and God only knows what he'd come up with in a sausage duel.