Well that was quite an episode. The holiday special was held in Chicago. This was my first visit to the windy city, and I have to say it was very eventful. I arrived at the W Hotel the day prior to the competition to check out the city a bit.
The day consisted of a visit to Bliss Spa, dinner at the renowned Alinea (which rocked), cocktails at Blackbird, and a very blurry remainder of the evening frequenting a number of local spots. The following day we arrived at a residence in the suburbs where we would be spending the next few days shooting the holiday special. When everyone started showing up, the party began. This particular group seemed to fall into the “holiday spirit” almost immediately. Tom Colicchio had stuffed everyone’s stocking with some sort of gift that related to their past experiences on “Top Chef”. I received a tie in my stocking. How fitting ….
Afterwards, we popped open a bunch of wine and began cooking together without skipping a beat. It was a lot of fun. CJ, Marcel, and I found ourselves passing the time experimenting with different cocktail concoctions after dinner and into the later hours of the evening. Each chef had left extremely hectic schedules to come to Chicago, and you could tell everyone was eager to get started. I had been on a construction site and in an office for the past six months working on my restaurant. As the interior designer for my project, it wasn’t the best idea to leave for several days, but duty called. Though there was $20,000 at stake, the competitive air was different from when we competing during our respective seasons.