Sunday, June 20, 2010

Top Chef Tour 3 visits Phoenix

Top Chefs CJ Jacobson from season 3 and Ryan Scott from season 4 of Bravo's reality series "Top Chef" bantered as they cooked and shared behind-the-scenes stories at the Phoenix Public Market Saturday morning. The Phoenix event ended a 21-city tour that began April 14 in St. Louis. Fan Nunn Winship put her week-long ASNE Reynolds High School Journalism Institute training into practice and asked about their filming schedule.

"As hectic as it looks on air, even worse, they hit the ground running just as we did," said Winship.

We sure did hit the ground running on Saturday. The market was full of colorful art and delicious food - I recommend the cold brewed coffee and chai brittle. I'll be heading home to duplicate that chicken sandwich from Ryan and CJ - perhaps I'll skip the flaming pineapple, though.

I loved the way that Top Chef Ryan referred to the journalists there covering the story – they must have made quite an impression on him. Rob Schumacher talked about the importance of getting up close when taking photos and the videographer did just that, even after eliciting several comments from Ryan about him being too close. Ryan also opened the dialogue by using a question that an Arizona Republic reporter asked him about which three foods he’d take with him on a desert island. Any guesses what they are?

For those fellow foodies, I couldn't resist pulling out my notebook and taking a few notes. Here's a few highlights ...

What’s an herb you recommend for cooking?
Ryan recommended fennel from California’s Napa Valley. “It’s a cross between parsley and thyme,” said CJ.

Who inspires you?
“It’s my parents. When they had no money, they put me through college.” (Ryan shared that his passion for cooking showed as early as 9-years-old. His parents recognized his interest and encouraged him by buying cooking items for his birthdays, including a food dehydrator and a wok.)
CJ: “My mom – it was more a reaction against the food she produced in the house.”

What’s it like being on the show?
Meeting new people
CJ: "To have to be BFFs with 15 people and have cameras on you – it’s just fear, man.”
Ryan: “You sleep at home and the next day you’re sharing a house with seven roommates.”

Long hours - sometimes contestants wait up to nine hours in one room together with an open bar while the judges deliberate.
CJ: “That’s why people cry on the show. We left at 4 AM and started shooting at 9 AM.”
Ryan: “Jen’s over there kicking chairs and it’s 4:30 in the morning and I’m over there going is there any more Michelob?”

Working with Tom Colicchio
CJ: “He’s always straight up. He’s always honest.”
Ryan: “I changed my cooking style after that.”

Lisa Edmisten
Woodcreek High School
Roseville, Calif.


  1. Leslie,

    Thank you SO much for posting this original, neat and insightful story! I did not get to make it to the market yesterday morning and I was so jealous looking at all of the goodies and jewelry and snacks everyone was raving about and showing off.

    Reading this was a nice snipet of what I had to miss!


    Alyssa Carnley
    Harrison HS
    Kennesaw, GA

  2. You took notes and wrote down quotes? Oh man, Lisa, the Institute has got to you...and that's a good thing. Thanks for posting this. I'll be able to better recall the fun we all had!

  3. Wow. This is a nice reporting job. What an enjoyable and informative post. Thanks.

    Steve Elliott
    Arizona State University