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Top Chef Season 7 Casting Call at Craftsteak

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Yesterday morning, the minions of Lakshmi and Colicchio opened the doors of Craftsteak to eager hopefuls looking for spots on Top Chef: Season 7 (referred to as Top Chef Classic by the casting folks) and its new little sister, Top Chef: Just Desserts. Eater was there to look around, ask questions, and do its fair share of cringing. Onto a smattering of the under-qualified, the overqualified, the batshit, and everything in between:

Cheftestant: Brad McDonald
Just Desserts or Top Chef Classic: Classic.
Backstory: Right now I'm the Executive Chef at Crabtree's Kittle House in Chappaqua, Westchester County. I spent four years in the city before moving up there. I worked for Ducasse, I worked at Per Se for Thomas Keller, went to Copenhagen and worked at Noma.
Why do you want to be on Top Chef? I think they have raised the bar, as far as talent level, over the past couple of seasons. I don't think that it's just a competition for chefs who are trying to make a name for themselves anymore.
What type of "character" would you be on the show? I try to be the "constructive guy," I want to be the guy who's done ahead of time and helping the others out.
Bet: Dude's got the resume. Probably getting the greenlight.

Cheftestant: Paris Retana
Just Desserts or Top Chef Classic: Classic, I'm a terrible pastry chef.
Backstory: I was born in Mexico City and lived there until I was 18. My brother owns a couple of restaurants there and got me into cooking. And, of course, my grandma got me into cooking as well. Right now, I'm at the Taco Truck in Hoboken.
Why do you want to be on Top Chef? It would be a really great platform to, and this is going to sound cliché, but to try to change the way people see food in the States. Try to get better food—better ingredients, better quality, for everybody.
What type of "character" would you be on the show? I'll be the crazy guy. Usually, I'm very relaxed and nice, but if something doesn't go my way I get really crazy and frustrated.
Bet: He's got an accent. He promises he'll be crazy. Might happen for him.

Cheftestant: Robyn Friedman
Just Desserts or Top Chef Classic: Classic.
Backstory: I'm currently an owner of a catering company in Kennebunkport, Maine and I'm also a food rep for a distribution company. I've been cooking for ten years, I started in Washington DC as a dish washer and making chicken stock and eventually worked by way up the ladder.
Why do you want to be on Top Chef? I'm pretty amazing. I make for good television.
What type of "character" would you be on the show? I am the tattooed lesbian. The Jewish, tattooed lesbian.
Bet:Top Chef loves bitchy characters, but she might be too much for one cheftestant.

Cheftestant: Ashley Summers
Just Desserts or Top Chef Classic: Just Desserts.
Backstory: Mostly small town girl stuff. I worked in a lot of small restaurants and built my way up—I worked at a few places in Boston, I moved to China for a year. I like to move around. Now I'm working in New York. I've worked all over the East Side and I'm currently pastry chef at Tavern on the Green.
Why do you want to be on Top Chef? It's free money; I'm going get in and I'm going to win it.
What type of "character" would you be on the show? Robyn and I were just deciding who was going to play the bitch...
Bet: Well, she'll certainly be available.

Cheftestant: Michael Giletto
Just Desserts or Top Chef Classic: Old school Top Chef.
Backstory: I'm from Cherry Valley Country Club. Born and raised in Phildelphia. Got a little Robert DeNiro look going for me here, so I'm trying to play that out as much as possible in the TV and media. A lot of country club stints, a lot of hotel as well.
Why do you want to be on Top Chef? For multiple reasons, obviously. My cuisine brings all the women to my man cave and I want to show them what it's all about. I just want to show America what a local boy from New Jersey and Philly has.
What type of "character" would you be on the show? The Robert DeNiro, mean, sarcastic, ass-kicking chef.
Bet: Considering he mentioned the fact that he thinks he looks like DeNiro twice in thirty seconds, we'll probably be seeing him in Season 7. Also, he used the words "cuisine" and "man cave" in the same sentence.

Cheftestant: Rowan Johnson
Just Desserts or Top Chef Classic: Just Desserts.
Backstory: Currently I work at L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon at the Four Seasons. I work in the bread shop currently, but I've also worked in pastry there. I was a pastry sous at Picholine and also was the executive pastry chef at Red Restaurant in Napa.
Why do you want to be on Top Chef? Oh, it's fun. I think it's a fun challenge.
What type of "character" would you be on the show? I don't know...the pastry chef?
Bet: Seems like a pretty good bet.

Cheftestant: Fredrick Ortega
Just Desserts or Top Chef Classic: Just Desserts.
Backstory: I'm the executive pastry chef at the Rittenhouse Hotel in Philidephia and I've been with them for seven years. Before that I worked for the Ritz Carlton and The Four Seasons.
Why do you want to be on Top Chef? My staff kind of pushed me into it. They watch Top Chef and say, "you're the type of person who trouble fixes and all these things." I've never even seen Top Chef.
What type of "character" would you be on the show? I'll probably be neutral. I'll probably be the guy that everyone bounces off of.
Bet: He's no nonsense and down to business. The fact that he's never watched the show is puzzling, but, who knows, it could work to his advantage.

Cheftestant: Bethany Costello
Just Desserts or Top Chef Classic: Just Desserts.
Backstory: I've been doing pastry for three years. I work at Bouley in Tribeca right now.
Why do you want to be on Top Chef? I'm doing it for all my friends and family. I love desserts and I love pastry, but this is for them because they want me to succeed and I told them I'd try out for it.
What type of "character" would you be on the show? The quirky young white girl who's a little bit off.
Bet: Her lack of enthusiasm doesn't help much, but she is quirky!

Cheftestant: Juan Hunt
Just Desserts or Top Chef Classic: Classic.
Backstory: I've been a chef for five years. I worked in a Japanese restaurant in Manhattan for two years and then moved to Pennsylvania and worked at Paradise Stream.
Why do you want to be on Top Chef? To see exactly where I am in the culinary world. To see where I fit.
What type of "character" would you be on the show? I'll be a little bit of the good guy and the bad guy with a little bit of a quiet side.
Bet: It sounds like he's cool with being a potential back stabber--which scores major points--but it doesn't seem like he has the experience.

Cheftestant: Melissa Fritz-Walters
Just Desserts or Top Chef Classic: Just Desserts.
Backstory: I live in Charleston, SC. I have fourteen years of pastry chef experience. I'm currently the pastry chef at Baked and am an adjunct pastry instructor at the Culinary Institute of Charleston.
Why do you want to be on Top Chef? To win.
What type of "character" would you be on the show? I'd like to be the grounded person. Maybe with a hint of bitch, I definitely don't want to be a pushover.
Bet: She's got teaching experience, the desire to be a grounded bitch and two last names. It could go either way.

Cheftestant: Charmaine Jones
Just Desserts or Top Chef Classic: Just Desserts
Backstory: I'm the owner of Cake Diva.
Why do you want to be on Top Chef? I thought they were looking for something other than what they're actually looking for. I thought they were looking for a host. But I'm going to try out anyway, you know, whatever.
What type of "character" would you be on the show? Not that I want to, but they'd probably have me as the bitch.
Bet: Zero chance. No one tries to put Padma out of a job and gets away with it.

Cheftestant: Colleen Grapes
Just Desserts or Top Chef Classic: Just Desserts.
Backstory: I've been cooking for fourteen years and am now the Executive Pastry Chef at The Red Cat and The Harrison.
Why do you want to be on Top Chef? This is the first time I've done anything like this, except maybe a "Cool In Your Code" segment. It's actually all come together in the past three days!
What type of "character" would you be on the show? Depends on the situation. I think I'm pretty cool and collected, but the other day someone who works with me told me, 'You'll be funny when you freak out.' So maybe...
Bet: Girl's got the chops.

Cheftestant: Samuel Beket
Just Desserts or Top Chef Classic: Classic
Backstory: I went to school in France and have cooked at various French places in New York, like Le Bilboquet and Le Relais. I own Kuch Café in Brooklyn. I have been moving my style more toward French Pan African, but I can do anything really.
Why do you want to be on Top Chef? I've never done this and I want to expose myself to something different.
What type of "character" would you be on the show? I'm a little crazy.
Bet: Could go either way. The look, the accent, and the attitude help, though.

Cheftestant: Mallory Staley
Just Desserts or Top Chef Classic: Just Desserts
Backstory: I moved to NYC when I was 17 to go to culinary school. I'm now the pastry chef at The Oak Room.
Why do you want to be on Top Chef? It'll be challenging and will push me to a different level.
What type of "character" would you be on the show? Reserved. But when it's my time, it's my time.
Bet: Flip a coin.

Cheftestant: Edward Moon
Just Desserts or Top Chef Classic: Classic
Backstory: I'm the executive chef and co-owner of a restaurant in Rhode Island.
Why do you want to be on Top Chef? It looks like it's a lot of fun. I've been to a casting once before.
What type of "character" would you be on the show? Well, I really like Cliff [Crooks, Season 2].
Bet: Zzzzzz

Cheftestant: Bobby Will
Just Desserts or Top Chef Classic: Classic
Backstory: I've been cooking for 11 years. I attended the CIA and am now the sous chef at Tryst Bistro in Beverly, MA.
Why do you want to be on Top Chef? I've been solid with what I've been doing. I'm dedicated, passionate. I like competition and I think I can do well.
What type of "character" would you be on the show? I can be an asshole. But kind of a friendly asshole. My favorite contestants this season are Brian Voltaggio and Kevin.
Bet: Good chance you'll be seeing him on the tee vee.

Cheftestant: Ed Hardy
Just Desserts or Top Chef Classic: Classic
Backstory: I've been a chef for 10 years. I went to the FCI and I was chef de partie and all sorts of other things at Aquavit. I also worked for Danny Meyer at Cafe 2 and Terrace 5. I've also worked at tons of places in Virginia, where I went to UVA and got degrees in history and media studies. Before going into the restaurant business, I worked in politics. Did all sorts of sabotaging, dirty stuff. I worked as a campaign manager for Eric Cantor and Rob Simmons. It would be really cool if they filmed the show in DC this year, so I could be the 'politics dude.'
Why do you want to be on Top Chef? I've got a different approach, none of that molecular gastronomy stuff. I really think that the future is in historical cuisine rather than dehydrated stuff.
Bet: Has that perfect mix of skill and crazy.

Cheftestant: Hilda Terrera
Just Desserts or Top Chef Classic: Just Desserts.
Backstory: I went to NYC Technical College and originally wanted to be a FOH person, but I ended up becoming a pastry chef. I now work for Simply Savory Caterers.
Why do you want to be on Top Chef? I feel like I've done it all. It's time for a competition.
What type of "character" would you be on the show? Most likely Hung, but I'm not that feisty or high-strung.
Bet: Ne pas de Top Chef: Just Desserts for her.

Cheftestant: GeorgeAnn Leaming
Just Desserts or Top Chef Classic: Classic
Backstory: I've been cooking for ten years and work at Casa Di Napoli at The Showboat in Atlantic City.
Why do you want to be on Top Chef? This is my fourth time trying out. It'd be cool to compete and kick some ass.
What type of "character" would you be on the show? I really like LeeAnn Wong's type. I can be tough if I'm pushed to it.
Bet: Just give her a chance, already.

Cheftestant: Michelangelo Wescott
Just Desserts or Top Chef Classic: Classic
Backstory: I'm originally from Brooklyn, am self-taught, and have been cooking for twenty years. I own The Gypsy Apple Bistro in Shelburne Falls, MA. I do world cuisine with French technique.
Why do you want to be on Top Chef? My wife's been pressing me.
What type of "character" would you be on the show? I think I have a personality similar to Stephen's [Asprinio, Season 1].
Bet: Affable, bear-like, skilled. Let's hope he makes it on.

Cheftestant: Robert Murphy
Just Desserts or Top Chef Classic: Classic
Backstory: I've been a private chef and caterer to high profile people - I go where the jet takes me. The only client I can really tell you about is Marcy Klein, Calvin Klein's daughter.
Why do you want to be on Top Chef? Never done it before. I've actually been accepted to "Chopped" already, but I'd rather be on Top Chef.
What type of "character" would you be on the show? I really like Carla [Hall, Season 5]. Her southern cooking's right up my alley. I'm the loud one. I'm the wild card, though you couldn't tell by looking at me [maniacal laugh].
Bet: Citing crazy Carla as a favorite and naming one of your clients (even if it is Marcy Klein) is a bit questionable. He does toss in a maniacal laugh for good measure though, so who knows.
—Matt Duckor & Gabe Ulla


Le Bilboquet

25 East 63rd Street, New York, NY 10065

Craftsteak

85 10th Ave., New York, NY

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