Top Chef

Who We’ll Be Watching on the New ‘Top Chef’

Centro Vinoteca must breed TV chefs. First Anne Burrell, and now the sous-chef, Leah Cohen, is on the new season of Top Chef. This season’s hometown hero is 27 and grew up in Scarsdale. She went to the CIA and spent 18 months cooking in Italy. Her specialty is homemade pasta, and her favorite chef is Marco Pierre White.

Hometown Heroes, Metro N.Y. Division:

Ariane Duarte, chef/owner of CulinAriane in Montclaire, N.J. “Her strong belief is that anything can be fixed and to keep smiling,” according to her Bravo bio. We’ll see how long that lasts.

“Danny,” the executive chef at Babylon Carriage House, is 26 and has a slim bio. But according to his restaurant’s Website, Daniel Gagnon is the chef de cuisine there.


AGE: 33

HOMETOWN: New York, N.Y. – currently resides in Los Angeles, Calif

PROFESSION: Executive Chef, Restaurant 15

CULINARY EDUCATION: International Culinary Education, I.C.E. – New York, N.Y.

FAVORITE FALL RECIPE: Duck Confit – Duck breast, onions, carrots, celery, cloves, cinnamon, duck fat, fresh herbs

FAVORITE SIMPLE SPRING RECIPE: Red snapper with guava beurre blanc, guavaberry and sweet plantain hash

Alex currently serves as Executive Chef /Partner at a small boutique restaurant in Los Angeles, Calif., Restaurant 15. His culinary career is based primarily in small individually owned restaurants, which is fitting since he has a personal relationship with food and finds his creativity is best expressed in those intimate circumstances. Born in Madrid, raised in the Dominican Republic and then New York City, he has a very distinct cultural background that fuels his passion for cooking. Classically trained in French and Spanish cuisine, he often plays with Caribbean flair to add depth to his food. When not training for marathons, he enjoys making one of his favorite dishes, Paella.


AGE: 41

HOMETOWN: Verona, N.J.

PROFESSION: Chef/owner of CulinAriane in Montclair, N.J.

CULINARY EDUCATION: AOS, Culinary Institute of America

FAVORITE SPRING RECIPE: Roasted asparagus, artichokes, fava beans and morels on herb goat cheese grilled focaccia

Ariane is the chef/owner of CulinAriane, a four-star restaurant located in Montclair, N.J. She was inspired to cook at a young age by her grandmothers. After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America, she worked at some of the best restaurants in the country before she and her husband, Michael, opened CulinAriane. While much of her time is spent at her restaurant, she loves spending time with her daughters, especially at the beach. She also enjoys entertaining for family and friends. Her strong belief is that anything can be fixed and to keep smiling.

AGE: 44
HOMETOWN: Nashville, Tenn. – currently resides in Washington, D.C.
PROFESSION: Owner/Chef, Alchemy Caterers
CULINARY EDUCATION: C.C.T. L’Academie de Cuisine
FAVORITE SIMPLE SUMMER RECIPE: Small shaped pasta with hand mashed salted heirloom tomatoes, garlic, red wine vinegar, chilies and a great extra virgin olive oil
FAVORITE SIMPLE SPRING RECIPE: Pea salad with radishes and feta cheese

Carla is the chef and owner of Alchemy Caterers in Washington, D.C. Her food balances the heart and soul of the South and the refinement of her classic French training. She enjoys creating memorable comfort dishes with fresh, seasonal and local ingredients. Carla approaches each event as an opportunity to make a connection with the client and to change the way they experience food. She always has good European butter, Couverture chocolate, bacon, heavy cream, olive oil – pomace and extra virgin – on hand and pies are one of her favorite things to make.

AGE: 26
HOMETOWN: New Hyde Park, N.Y.
PROFESSION: Executive Chef, Babylon Carriage House
FAVORITE SIMPLE SUMMER RECIPE: Fresh calamari salad with pepper, red onions, fresh garlic, lemon, lime, pepper, salt to my liking.

AGE: 30
HOMETOWN: Florence, Italy - currently resides in Moorpark, Calif.
PROFESSION: Owner, Cafe Firenze Italian Restaurant Martini Bar
CULINARY EDUCATION: I.P.S.S.A.R Aurelio Saffi, Hotel and Restaurant Management School in Florence, Italy
FAVORITE SIMPLE SUMMER RECIPE: Seared black sea bass, heirloom tomato and purple basil with extra virgin olive oil

Fabio is the Owner and Executive Chef of Café Firenze Italian Restaurant and Martini Bar, one of the most recognized restaurants in Ventura County. Born and raised in Florence, Italy, he has traveled across Europe and is trained in classic Italian and Mediterranean cuisine. He incorporates Italian, French and Spanish influences in his dishes and believes that cooking is a craft. He is currently working on opening the Firenze4Kids Foundation, which will emphasize the promotion of health and wellness for kids through good nutrition and will also launch, the largest informative resource library available online, designed to enhance a healthy and safe lifestyle for children. Additionally, Fabio also works as William Shatner’s private chef.

AGE: 33
HOMETOWN: Whitmore Village, Hawaii – currently resides in Las Vegas, Nev.
PROFESSION: Executive Chef, Executive Sushi Chef & Chef Consultant
FAVORITE SUMMER RECIPE: Ahi tuna, green onions, ginger, garlic, cilantro, bonito and hot peanut oil
FAVORITE SPRING RECIPE: Mesclun lettuce, chopped romaine, roasted macadamia nuts, boursin cheese, strawberries and mango yuzu vinaigrette

Gene is currently developing menus for major corporations and is the soon to be Executive Chef of a new concept for a major hotel and casino in Las Vegas. Born and raised in Hawaii, he relocated to Las Vegas and began his career as a dishwasher. Through hard work and dedication over the years, he has experienced all facets of life in the professional kitchen. He has gained wisdom and experience in management positions at various restaurants and has been blessed to work for and with some of the most extraordinary chefs in the world. His cooking philosophy has always been “think outside the box” and his love for pacific fusion compliments his cooking style. He is trained in basic French and Italian with an emphasis on Pacific Rim, Hawaiian fusion, and the art of sushi.

AGE: 34
HOMETOWN: Taos, N.M. – currently resides in Boulder, Colo.
PROFESSION: Executive Chef, Jax Fish House and Owner, HZR Culinary Consulting, LLC
FAVORITE SIMPLE SPRING RECIPE: Sea scallops with morels, asparagus, potato puree and Madeira cream sauce

Hosea has been the Executive Chef at Jax Fish House in Boulder for the past four and a half years. During his tenure at Jax, he has won numerous awards including Best Chef at the Denver International Wine Festival (2006, 2007) and is the seven-time, undefeated winner of the Flatiron Chef Competition. While pursuing his BS in Engineering Physics from the University of Colorado at Boulder, Hosea worked at a variety of restaurants from diners to fine dining establishments. It was only after he graduated in 1997 that he realized he wanted to change course and become a professional chef. In 1998 he began working for Wolfgang Puck and got his first job as head chef just three years later. When it comes to food, quality ingredients, integrity and focus are paramount to Hosea.

AGE: 30
HOMETOWN: New York City – currently resides in San Francisco, Calif.
PROFESSION: Executive Chef, Absinthe Brasserie and Bar
FAVORITE SIMPLE SPRING RECIPE: Asparagus Salad with charred onion vinaigrette, Burrata cheese, wild arugula and speck

Jamie works as the Executive Chef at Absinthe, one of the busiest restaurants in San Francisco. Born in New York City and trained in classic French technique, she believes in cooking from within. Jamie loves to work with local and seasonal ingredients and focuses most of her menu around organic foods. She enjoys participating in local charitable events and using her talent to support important causes. Her favorite thing to eat is Indian food and she is obsessed with onions.

AGE: 30
HOMETOWN: Niceville, Fla. – currently resides in Miami, Fla.
PROFESSION: Chef de Cuisine, The DiLido Beach Club
CULINARY EDUCATION: Johnson & Wales University

Jeff got his culinary start at age 15 by cleaning local fish while working on Florida fishing boats and a year later began peeling shrimp, cleaning squid and cutting fish for The Marina Café. Jeff embarked on his professional career as a Sous Chef at Atlanticville Restaurant and Café outside of Charleston, South Carolina while attending school at Johnson & Wales University. He went on to hone his culinary skills as a Sous Chef in San Francisco at Azie, an upscale Asian fusion restaurant, and later served as a Sous Chef at the Five Star Orient Express resort in Virginia where he expanded on his knowledge of French and American cuisines. Returning to his native Florida, Jeff worked directly under Chef Norman Van Aken and then joined The Ritz-Carlton, South Beach culinary team. He currently serves as Chef de Cuisine of The DiLido Beach Club. His recent sabbaticals include traveling to North Africa, Turkey, Italy, and the Greek Isles to discover new techniques which he uses daily at home with Florida ingredients.

AGE: 28
HOMETOWN: Latrobe, Pa. - currently resides in Baltimore, Md.
PROFESSION: Executive Chef, Red Maple
CULINARY EDUCATION: Baltimore International College
FAVORITE SIMPLE SPRING RECIPE: Grilled shrimp with pea tendrils and roasted
baby beets

Born in Latrobe, Pa., Jill’s culinary interests were sparked at an early age when she began helping on her uncle’s farm, picking berries and baking cookies to sell at the local farmer’s market. She didn’t plan on becoming a chef, but counts her decision to attend culinary school as one of her best moves. After moving to Baltimore, Jill studied under the celebrated chef and restaurateur Spike Gjerde. She loves to create imaginative sushi rolls and unique desserts and the five ingredients she always keeps on hand are semi-sweet chocolate, sushi rice, micro-herbs, Banyuls vinegar and champagne. Her goal is to one day own a small resort that serves amazing food and features rides in her hot air balloon.

AGE: 24
HOMETOWN: Cincinnati, Ohio – currently stationed at Fort Stewart
PROFESSION: Chef Tournant, Jag’s Steak and Seafood
CULINARY EDUCATION: B.P.S. Culinary Arts Management, CIA
FAVORITE SPRING RECIPE: Spring pea mousse in phyllo cups with creme fraiche and caviar

Lauren works as the Tournant at Jag’s Steak and Seafood, the most luxurious and contemporary steakhouse in Cincinnati, Ohio. Sparked by an Easy Bake Oven as a little girl, Lauren’s passion for pastry and the culinary arts bloomed throughout her childhood and into her current career. While attending the prestigious CIA in Hyde Park, New York, Lauren met her husband, a USMA cadet. Together they have traveled the country, influencing Lauren’s eclectic and free-form culinary style. If she were a food, she says she would be a sweet and sassy box of chocolates because “you never know what you’re going to get, but its always going to be good!”

AGE: 27
HOMETOWN: Scarsdale, N.Y. – currently resides in New York, N.Y.
PROFESSION: Sous Chef, Centro Vinoteca
FAVORITE SIMPLE SUMMER RECIPE: Ricotta stuffed zucchini blossoms and panzanella salad

Leah currently works as a Sous Chef at Centro Vinoteca in New York City. Apart from the year and a half that she worked at a Michelin-starred restaurant in Italy, she has spent her entire life in New York and comes from a Filipino, Russian-Romanian Jewish background. Her favorite chef is Marco Pierre White and she counts salt, olive oil, butter, garlic and any pork product as her must-have ingredients. She loves Italian, Filipino and Thai cuisine, but homemade pasta is what she enjoys making the most.

HOMETOWN: Maryland – currently resides in Boulder, Colo.
PROFESSION: Sous Chef, Centro Latin Kitchen and Refreshment Palace
CULINARY EDUCATION: Baltimore International College

Born in Maryland and raised on a horse farm, Melissa spent her youth surrounded by farm fresh produce and livestock. Her upbringing influenced her love of food and cooking from an early age. After receiving her culinary degree from Baltimore International College, Melissa relocated to Boulder, Colorado where she currently serves as a Sous Chef at Centro Latin Kitchen and Refreshment Palace. Dedicated to creating soulful Latin America cuisine, her favorite part of cooking is making people happy. Melissa’s goals and plans for the future include endless travel, culinary endeavors and continually expanding her food knowledge.

AGE: 21
HOMETOWN: Quincy, Mass. – currently a student at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y.
PROFESSION: Culinary Student
CULINARY EDUCATION: A.O.S Culinary Arts, C.I.A working on BPS Culinary Arts Management
FAVORITE SIMPLE SUMMER RECIPE: Berries with balsamic, honey, mint, basil and tart yogurt.
FAVORITE SIMPLE SPRING RECIPE: Fresh pasta with fresh morels sautéed in butter and white wine

Patrick is currently a student at the Culinary Institute of America. With an inherent love for cooking, he was inspired as a child by his mother and grandmother and today by food writer Michael Pollan. Patrick has always had a love for the arts, both performing and visual and tries to incorporate them into every dish he creates. With ingredients as his medium of art, he is inspired by quality and freshness and enjoys making fresh vegetable dishes like succotash, pisto and ratatouille. He has a passion for sustainable agriculture and hopes to educate and promote support for local farmers and growers.

AGE: 28
HOMETOWN: Chicago, Ill.
PROFESSION: Executive Chef, Between Boutique Café & Lounge
CULINARY EDUCATION: A.O.S. Culinary Arts, The Cooking & Hospitality Institute of Chicago
FAVORITE SIMPLE SUMMER RECIPE: Roasted red and yellow beet salad with mixed greens, herb crusted beef tenderloin and crispy goat cheese balls

Radhika currently works as the Executive Chef at Between Boutique Café & Lounge in Chicago. A first generation Indian American, Radhika was born in Ohio and raised in an eclectic Indian-tradition home. Trained in classic French and Indian cuisine, she has worked alongside notable chef Vikas Khanna and has staged at the Burj Al Arab in Dubai. She has traveled the world over learning new techniques and flavor profiles and brings spice and bold flavors to the table combined with grace and restraint. Her favorite dish to prepare is spicy chicken and potato curry with cumin scented rice with clarified butter and mint. She describes her cooking style as globally eclectic with a huge spoonful of love.

AGE: 27
HOMETOWN: Sayville, Long Island, N.Y. – currently resides in San Diego, Calif.
PROFESSION: Executive Sous Chef, Confidential Restaurant & Loft, San Diego
CULINARY EDUCATION: Diplome Professionale du Commis de Cuisine, San Diego Culinary Institute
FAVORITE SPRING RECIPE: Lightly grilled chicken breast, crumbled gorgonzola, dried cranberries, baby spinach salad, all tossed with a light balsamic vinaigrette

Richard is the Executive Sous Chef at Confidential Restaurant & Loft in the Gaslamp District of downtown San Diego. Richard grew up in food service. His father has served as a restaurant manager for years and his mother and stepfather have owned several bagel businesses in Long Island where Richard spent many summers during his youth. He’s been trained by world traveled chefs in classic French techniques and their modern applications. His motto in the kitchen is, “Keep it simple (stupid)” – and he likes to do just that by keeping his plates simple and infused with natural harmony versus chaotic noise. At Confidential, Richard likes to “play” with his food through the small plates style of dining, which allows him to create many new dishes for his guests to combine. On the side, he also works at the San Diego bar, Pecs.

AGE: 35
HOMETOWN: Tampere, Finland – currently resides in Santa Monica, Calif.
CULINARY EDUCATION: CMC, Wurzburg Schweinfurt
FAVORITE SIMPLE SPRING RECIPE: Wedge of iceberg lettuce with bacon and blue cheese dressing

Stefan was born in Finland but spent the majority of his childhood in Germany, where he began culinary training in his early teens. He worked his way through various European kitchens, learning new techniques and collecting awards along the way. In 1998, he joined master chefs Grant McPherson, Sotta Kuhn, Jacques Torres, Jean Philip Maury and Marc Poidevin as part of the creative team for the opening of the Bellagio Hotel, Resort & Spa in Las Vegas. As Executive Sous-Chef, he created, developed and executed menus for the $25 million-dollar banquet kitchen. Since then, he has held a number of Executive Chef positions and most recently worked with Celestino Drago at Enoteca Drago before opening his own business, Stefan’s Catering in Santa Monica. Although he currently resides in Los Angeles, he spends his summer months hunting and fishing in his native Finland.
Who We’ll Be Watching on the New ‘Top Chef’