In advance of tonight’s premiere of Top Chef, Grub Street’s national team of reporters prepared scouting reports for some of the cheftestants. While nothing we learned gives any indication of who won (though Michael Vontaggio in L.A. has worked with two previous contestants), we did get a sense of what we can expect from these people.
Mattin Noblia, San Francisco A former model, the Iluna Basque chef-owner has 870 Facebook friends and a “large collection of women,” according to one actual, analog fiend.
See a shirtless Noblia — with puppies! — in our scouting report.
Jennifer Carroll, Philadelphia “She is tough as nails, sharp as hell, and was an awesome athlete,” says her junior prom date. (Remember, Philly is a small town. “She got down and got dirty and she cleaned up nicely — meaning that she could be with the boys but not be one of the boys,” said a former boss.
Read the complete report.
Michael Voltaggio, Los Angeles “Michael Voltaggio is a bad-ass!” former Top Chef winner Hung Huynh told us. “Michael is a prick, but in a good way.” Voltaggio also worked with another Top Chef competitor, villain Marcel Vigneron. Plus, his brother Bryan is also competing. Sibling rivalry!
Hear more from Hung in our scouting report.
Jennifer Zavala, Philadelphia Zavala is a newcomer to Philadelphia and therefore hasn’t earned much of a reputation around town. But she’s known to be a “total sweetheart.” She’s worked in Connecticut, California, North Carolina, St. Croix, and Manhattan — but is that bouncing around, or merely gathering experience?
Study the scouting report
Laurine Wickett, San Francisco “She’s not ego-driven,” a former co-worker told us about Wickett. She does seem media-savvy, however, and ready to take advantage of Top Chef notoriety with a new blog and Twitter feed.
Read her scouting report.
Ash Fulk, New York He used to go by “Ashley” and was known to sing show tunes and quote Shakespeare in the kitchen. He can cook a mean dessert, but he’s also “respectful of produce” — an attitude that could impress Tom Colicchio.
Fulk’s former bosses tell all!
Preeti Mistry, San Francisco
Mistry runs the kitchen at Google HQ and recently cooked up braised pork belly and squash bisque for the hardworking nerds. According to her Facebook page, she likes Gruyère and pricey Champagne. According to her Twitter, she’s a boxer.
Get briefed on Mistry.